The Strain by Guillermo del Toro

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

This book is a hybrid between a traditional vampire story and a CSI mystery, if you can imagine that! The story takes place in modern day New York City, and begins with a huge Boeing 777 landing at JFK Airport, full of dead people.  Of course, terrorism is suspected immediately, but after that is ruled out, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) sends in their crack New York team, headed by Dr. Eph Goodweather.  They are shocked to find four survivors, and quarantine them immediately for testing so the doctors can figure out what happened to the rest of the people on the plane.  As it turns out, that giant, ornate box Eph saw near the plane was a indication of something ominous–in fact, a vampiric virus has been let loose on New York City!  A Holocaust survivor named Abraham Setrakian seems to understand exaxtly what is happening, and insists on talking to Eph and joins him in the quest to fight the fledgling virus.  Along the way they pick up exterminator named Vasiley Fet, who’s very useful since newly made vampires have similar behaviors to rats and have chased the infamous New York City rats out of their underground hiding places.

This books spends the first half explaining how the vampires are like a virus–very like the complicated medical discussions if you watch any of the CSI shows.  Pretty interesting stuff, and the authors also include some of Eph’s complicated family issues (divorce and custody fight) to explain his reactions to various twist in their investigation.  The Fall, which is the second book in the trilogy, continues the story with as many cliff hangers as the first book.  I highly recommend both.

This book was co-written by Guillermo del Toro, who directed Blade II,  the Hellboy series, and wrote Pan’s Labyrinth as well as a number of horror movies.  I’m impressed by the story and am relieved that his vampires are busy sucking blood instead of romancing sweet young things.  I recommend this without reservation to vampire, horror, and Stephen King fans.

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