19 February 2010

Book 4 of 2010

This was completed while I was home sick with two ear infections in the same ear. Ear infections are brutal. 

The Strain

4) The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
If the testament to a trilogy is how much the part one makes a person anxious to read the next installment, then The Strain fails big time.

Maybe it's having the Guillermo Del Toro name attached or that I bought a hardcover edition or that the initial concept and first 100 pages of a plane landing in New York with a slew of dead passengers by way of vampire was so intriguing that I had unrealistic expectations from the story. It's possible there's a combination of the three going on. Unfortunately, the story doesn't deliver. It feels padded and redundant for much of the middle section, constantly reemphasizing the logistics of how the vampires operate. Chuck Hogan, whom I suspect did most of the heavy lifting in the writing department, doesn't lay out action sequences very well in prose form here. That's a pretty important aspect of what amounts to an action-packed horror novel.

On the plus side, because the opening and first few chapters are so interesting, I flew through it. In the beginning it was because I wanted to know what happened next, but later on I wanted it to get back to the way it was in the beginning. Setrakian is the best character in the novel and the chapters that flashback to his beginnings were often better than most of the time spent in the present day. Perhaps the authors will devote more space to that in parts two and three, but I know if I do read those it won't be until they get published in paperback form.

I think what annoyed me the most is that having Del Toro's name attached made this book read (possibly subconsciously) like the extended treatment for a future film, or worse, a novelization. The larger ideas and big events in the novel feel very cinematic. The opening, for instance, is straight out of one of Del Toro's movies. And it would work great as an opening to a film. Much of this book would work better as a movie, really. As a book, it's just not there.

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