“The Strain” by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (William Morrow, 2009)

The Strainstarstarstar

From authors Guillermo del Toro, who needs no introduction except for maybe two words – Pan’s Labyrinth, and maybe two more, The Hobbit, and Chuck Hogan, of  Prince of Thieves and The Standoff, comes the first book in a trilogy about vampires of a different variety coming to take over the world.  In a horror-thriller that is a combination of classic Michael Crichton with some War of the Worlds and a foundation of Dracula, The Strain is a fast-paced book you’ll be tearing through from cover to cover, and then feeling sad it’s all over and having to wait for the sequel; while in the back of your mind you’ll be wondering what the movie will be like.

A Boeing 777 is scheduled to land at JFK; it touches down according to plan and as it begins taxiing to the terminal it suddenly shuts down, all lights go out, no communication coming from the plane.  When the authorities reach the 777 to investigate, they find all the window shades closed, the engines turned off, and no sign of activity.  Opening the emergency exit over the wing, they find all the passengers sitting peacefully in their seats, appearing dead.  The Canary Project, a rapid-response biological hazard team under the CDC is mobilized, headed by Dr. Eph Goodweather to investigate.  There are a couple of survivors who are rushed to hospital, the rest taken to the morgue.

As Goodweather slowly begins putting the pieces together, the pale corpses in the morgue come to life and return to their homes, infecting others, increasing the number of vampires exponentially.  The biology of these vampires involves a retractable stinger that elongates the mouth and launches with rapid speed at the victim.  A former professor, Abraham Setrakian, who knew this day would come, joins forces with Goodweather to try and stop this growing army of vampires.  Otherwise they’ll take Manhattan within a week, the country within a month, and the world in two months.

Del Toro and Hogan have created a unique war here in the humans vs.  vampires, as these vampires are akin to the zombies of 28 Days Later: seemingly unstoppable and outright terrifying.  The Strain will keep readers on the edge of their seats and wanting more.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on June 30th, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

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