Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Strain

The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, is an interesting new take on the vampire mythos. It's the first part of a trilogy, and is definitely written that way. It's a great read, moving along quickly, with well developed background, a rather overly quirky cast of characters, and a generally well-developed plot. I was disappointed* to discover it was the first part of a trilogy, with the following two novels not yet released (the second part is apparently due this month).

Del Toro's cinematic background is clearly evident throughout; many of the scenes and characters are clearly written for a blockbuster movie presentation, and I'd say it's a fair bet that we'll see a movie of this in a couple of years' time. Stuff out there on the internet seems to indicate that it was originally written as a miniseries or TV show, and that shows.

The main thing that is missing is del Toro's unique visual style. Nobody does critters quite like him, and these vampires, while scary and monstrous, aren't painted is vividly as one might hope.

This isn't one of the Sexy Vampire novels** that are all the rage with the kids these days; in many ways it's closer to Zombie fiction than vampire fiction - these vampires are a plague, and frequently compared to rats and other vermin. There is a nice biological background to it all, and the main character is a doctor ranked reasonably highly in the CDC in New York. The biology isn't relentlessly implausible, and so doesn't turn me off like some stories that try to create a scientific theory of vampirism.

It's a good read, and I'd recommend it to fans of the genre. I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for the sequels in bookshops.

* I'm strongly of the opinion that novels that are part of a series need nice big writing on the front saying "Book 7 of the NoseBludgeon Cycle" or something to that effect, so you don't get tricked into thinking you'll get to read the whole story without buying a pile more books.
** I've got nothing against the Sexy Vampire genre in general, and am quite enjoying the new True Blood season.

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