Book Review: The Strain (Viscous)

The Strain

The Strain, Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

I shifted to The Strain after abandoning a science fiction novel that was killing me with how much I hated it. I expected it to be fairly light reading on the intellectual front. However, I did expect quality and frankly, that was largely absent. Naturally, one has to accept certain improbabilities if one is going to read a vampire story, and while the premise was a tad shaky, initially it was good enough. The first half of the book is setting up the scenario, and the airplane full of dead people is intriguing, as is the procedural aspect of the roles of TSA and the CDC, etc, if still seriously formulaic.

The trouble begins as the event unfolds into the result of this vampire contagion, where the book really breaks down into a series of predictable and boring scenarios of “another way to die by vampire and/or kill a vampire and splash a lot of yuck all over the place.” There are far too many commonalities with Walking Dead and it begins to feel exceptionally poorly imagined as the plot simply asks the reader to wade through a seemingly endless round of meeting new characters who have to die in a few pages. The reader loses touch with the main characters; their acceptance of vampire virus zombies happens too fast to be remotely believable, and the ending is so clearly a set up for the next book that one might wonder if a computer wrote this book and not a human. Also, whomever thought that the fluid that splashes out of the vampires in place of blood should be thick, white and viscous (and show up under black light) deserves 50 lashes for making it far too easy for a porn movie to do a..spoof? Tribute? Either way, there are things I don’t need to see gushing out of my vampire novel. One sad, solitary star.

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