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The Strain [Hardcover]

Guillermo del Toro , Chuck Hogan
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Jun 2009
High-concept thriller with a supernatural edge from world-famous director, whose films include Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy. A plane lands at JFK and mysteriously 'goes dark', stopping in the middle of the runway for no apparent reason, all lights off, all doors sealed. The pilots cannot be raised. When the hatch above the wing finally clicks open, it soon becomes clear that everyone on board is dead -- although there is no sign of any trauma or struggle. Ephraim Goodweather and his team from the Center for Disease Control must work quickly to establish the cause of this strange ocurrence before panic spreads. The first thing they discover is that four of the victims are actually still alive. But that's the only good news. And when all two hundred corpses disappear from various morgues around the city on the same night, things very rapidly get worse. Soon Eph and a small band of helpers will find themselves battling to protect not only their own loved ones, but the whole city, against an ancient threat to humanity.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Printing edition (2 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007310250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007310258
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘The first in a trilogy that soars with spellbinding intrigue. Truly, an unforgettable tale you can’t put down once you read the first page. I can’t wait until the next one.’ Clive Cussler

‘Blood and apocalypse mix in a terrifying story that feels like it was ripped from today's headlines. Vividly wrought and relentlessly paced, THE STRAIN haunts as much as it terrifies. I cannot wait to see where Del Toro and Hogan take us next.’ James Rollins

‘A rattling piece of escapism’ The Times

‘An entertaining mix of action blockbuster and vampire myth … with Del Toro’s talent for creating fantastical, macabre characters shining through … an exciting page-turner’ Metro

‘Del Toro and Hogan succeed in constructing a driving plot and delivering a gripping conclusion. Great characters … and a flair for striking scenes get this trilogy off to a first-rate start. Kirkus Reviews

Review

Best known as an innovative film director, Mexican Guillermo Del Toro makes his first foray into literature alongside thriller writer Chuck Hogan with this entertaining mix of action blockbuster and vampire myth. With an obvious nod to bram stoker's Dracula, The Strain follows the story of a plane that lands in New York with nearly all passangers dead and a mysterious, earth filled coffin in the hold.
Whether it's the curious dual authorship or just a desire to set the scene accurately, the beginning of the story is a disappointingly sluggish mass of technical description. Thankfully, once The Strain is unleashed and a host of half-zombie, half-vampire creatures start laying waste to New York, the book shifts up a few gears, with Del Toro's talent for creating fantastical, macarbre characters shining through. As part of an intended triology, The Strain ends on a hesitant note but it's still an exciting page turner, perfect for those with a taste for the gruesome.

'The Strain takes a horror staple and gives it a modern patina'

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but dragged on a bit 16 Oct 2011
By Manda Moo VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Whilst I enjoyed the style of writing used throughout The Strain, and was intrigued by the various strands of the story as they appeared I felt that a promising start dissolved into a rather lack lustre book. The story got a bit tired and relentless after the middle, I felt that it could have been about 200 pages shorter and still said the same things. I can't believe the story extends even further into a trilogy, but then I suppose there's still the potential of vampires spreading to the rest of the world isn't there. I might read the other books, but I'm not in a huge hurry.

If you are a fan of vampire stories, this is a good one, but with a good editing it could be much better and tighter.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I picked this up on the recommendation of a friend. They were of the opinion that I would LOVE this given that (and I'm not ruining anything here since it's on the cover of the book) it's all about a vampiric plague infesting New York.

The novel sees the arrival of a plane in New York City and the efforts by a CDC doctor, a disgraced European professor and assorted others in a race against time to fight the vampire contagion and `The Master'.

That short synopsis is effectively what the book is all about and that would have been enough to snare my attention and make me part with a few Queen's Heads for the book; but the big attraction for me was the author: Guillermo Del Toro, the man behind Mimic, Blade II, Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth. I was later to discover that Del Toro, although lending his name to this novel, submitted a 12 page layout and let co-writer Chuck Hogan do the rest.

However, I have to say, that considering this man put his name to the tome, I was quite disappointed. Allow me to seemingly contradict myself here, please do not doubt I enjoyed this book thoroughly! My problem lies with the fact that given Del Toro is identified as the author, the novel lacks the striking originality of much of his work, in fact, `The Strain' is an incredibly derivative piece of work. Allow me to explain...

Early in the novel, a plane lands at JFK airport in mysterious circumstances carrying a strange cargo; much like the Demeter in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Instead of a Transylvanian Count, we have a Polish nobleman. The Van Helsing of The Strain is a Holocaust survivor and we have a CDC doctor instead of Jonathan Harker.

Many reviewers seem to think that Del Toro was doffing his cap to the horror granddaddy with such references.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Trashy But Fun 5 Dec 2011
By Angela
Format:Paperback
*THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*

A good friend of mine sent me this in the post a couple of years ago and it's just been sitting on my bookshelf ever since collecting dust. I totally forgot that I even owned it until another friend was talking to me about it, so I eventually picked it up to read.

Modern vampire books worry me ever since `Twilight' became so inexplicably popular but thankfully this reads more like a Stephen King vampire concept (see 'Salems Lot) than Meyer's sparkling stalker. This is how vampires are supposed to behave - basically as evil beings.

Del Toro and Hogan have written a novel which adds a new dimension to vampire lore. I loved the concept of the vampire acting more as part of a hive as opposed to being an individual. I also loved how the vampire is viewed as a contagious virus and the description of how this virus is spread - those blood worms were fairly horrifying, and the white blood adds a nice creepy and gory element to it.

This book took me about 100 pages to get in to it as the beginning is extremely slow paced, and quite frankly dull. The writing is not particularly good either, but then I was expecting that as the friend who sent me the book had kindly put a note inside the covers telling me this was a trashy read but fun. He was correct; this IS a trashy, fun read and one that horror fans would lap up as there are some definite creepy moments in it. One element of the writing I loved were the flashbacks with Setrakian; an excellent use of storytelling and added a whole new level of creepiness to the novel in general.

A few things concern me though, and I am putting this down to bad writing. There are gaping holes in the plot which I find difficult to overlook.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible 27 Feb 2014
By Ian
Format:Paperback
I read this book as the author has made some boss films. I work as a librarian and as such have read many books good and bad. This was a very hard book to read, ideas seemed to be stolen from every virus related/vampire movie, computer game and novel. I am truly appalled at myself for forcing this book through my eyeballs into my skull. I cant get that time back. Avoid at all costs
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Start! 9 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback
"The Strain" is a competent beginning for a vampire trilogy, with lots going for it, like insane and tense action, scary moments and lots of wonderfully disgusting scenes. The writing is good, easy to read, with nice descriptions of the creatures and of the numerous action sequences. The characters are nice enough, with lots of space to develop in the next two books but already interesting and compelling, especially Abraham Setrakian, an old, tough vampire hunter, reminiscent of Van Helsing but with enough personality to stand on its own. His absolute hate and drive to destroy the vampires is contagious and he is without a doubt the best character in the book. The others could seriously use some work, especially our "hero" Eph, an epidemiologist who is burdened with the usual drivel about being divorced and his son's custody fight and all that drama for most of the book. It never works, never sets him apart from countless other characters in countless other fiction works. He works as an avatar for the reader, faced with this new "horror" that's almost impossible believe and learning about these vampires as we are but he's far to bland to gain any attachment from the reader. Even Fet, a pest control guy, whom only shows up in a few pages is far more interesting than him, with his big ugly face masking a swift mind and a lot of useful knowledge. There are more characters, like Nora, a silly love interest for Eph, his ex-wife, who could win a "Darwin Award", and his son, Zack who's depth stops at being smart... for a kid. Like I said, there's lots of space to improve.
Anyway you don't read a book like this for the great characters. So on to the juicy stuff. Well, the book starts slow, building up tension and cranking up the suspense and creepy factor.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
A little slow in the middle, but stick with it! Now it's on to the next book in the series.
Published 12 days ago by Ross
3.0 out of 5 stars A little two-dimensional
When a Boeing 777 arrives at the JFK airport and has lost contact with air control officials are perplexed and are unsure of what course of action should be taken. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Kate A. Best
3.0 out of 5 stars Good build-up, poor ending.
I picked this up very cheap as the kindle version, and it serves well enough as something to read on a trip, but the quality of this book dips dramatically in the third act. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Iain Alastair Nicol
4.0 out of 5 stars Great
If you are an apocalypse fiction fan, you will enjoy this book. It is an easy read, and a slightly different angle on vampires and the end of the world senarios. Read more
Published 1 month ago by vitaminfan
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
I've only read the first book in the trilogy.

A great and engaging read, similar in style to some of Stephen King's work. Read more
Published 1 month ago by omatko
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
I really enjoyed this take on the vampire story. It reminds me of Blade 2 in the way the vampires feed etc and i'm about to buy book 2 in the series. Would recommend.
Published 2 months ago by campo
5.0 out of 5 stars Love!
Have read three times now. I absolutely love this series of books especially this one. Definitely worth a read!
Del Toro is wonderful author and film maker.
Published 2 months ago by Essbee
1.0 out of 5 stars A mess
Awful characters, tedious plotting and impossibly stupid. Save your money, as well as time you'll never get back again, ever.
Published 3 months ago by Badwolf
5.0 out of 5 stars The Strain
First of all, I am a great fan of Guillermo del Toro's film work so when I found out that he had written a trilogy I simply had to buy all three regardless. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ciorstaidh MacTear
3.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling vampire novel
THE STRAIN is one of the better vampire novels to come out in years. Featuring memorable characters, a chilling atmosphere, and a frightening villain, it has a lot going for it. Read more
Published 4 months ago by BookExplorer
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