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The Strain [Hardcover]

Guillermo del Toro , Chuck Hogan
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (200 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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  • Read an extract from The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan [pdf file viewer required].

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: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (200 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 161,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘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


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
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but dragged on a bit 16 Oct 2011
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Viral Vampires 13 Oct 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I chose this book for the exciting blurb on the back of the book. It reads like this is a fast moving mystery thriller involving deaths of all but four passengers on an aeroplane which itself appears to have `died' on the runway moments after landing. For the first 150 pages or so it is exactly as the blurb on the back cover says, very exciting, mysterious and fast paced. At this point I would have given the book 5 stars. Then it dissolves into vampires and zombies feeding by their `stingers' (4ft long tongues that cut into human throats) leaving their prey to become another vampire and from here onwards I want to give the book just 1 or 2 stars.

There are holes all over this story - more than 200 passengers on a plane all turn into vampires, all escape from the morgues they were held in and all are on the search for blood. It's just impossible to contain yet a rat catcher, a doctor and a weak old man manage to save the Universe ! (or at least New York). It would probably make a better film than book and be a great one for `the boys'. It is a very chilling, scary read and with good make-up and masks this could be a very scary movie.

I prefer my books with a bit more reality (vampires don't exist, do they ?) and if there had been a hint of zombies or vampires on the back cover I would have avoided it. However, having read the whole thing (the second half rather sceptically), if vampires and the like are your thing then I'm sure this, the first of three, is a great start to a terrific vampire thriller chiller - but I won't be reading the next two.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Start! 9 Oct 2013
"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 Loved it!
This book kept me up at night reading until the early hours, maybe not the most original story. A cross between zombies and vampires but compelling all the same! Read more
Published 21 hours ago by Clare P
2.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant person, wrong medium...
I am a big fan of Benicio del Toro as a film director and producer. I like his playfulness and his imagination, the pacing of his movies, his ability to mix between the serious and... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Anton Gourman
5.0 out of 5 stars Great vampire tale
Really enjoyed this book, it's fast paced and doesn't let up at all. Finally, vampires are frightening again. Read more
Published 28 days ago by DJ Garcia
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't put it down
Brilliant, intense, a real page turner. Can't wait for the other books. Scary, and heart rending in equal measure, from a master story teller.
Published 1 month ago by michael cook
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
got it for a friend. its a book :D
Published 1 month ago by Mr. S. Chamelian
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 2 months ago by MarsieH
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this during the day in bright sunlight.
An intelligent reworking of a much covered genre. I was hooked from the start when a plane, after a perfect landing, stops on the taxiway with all systems shutdown, no lights and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Matt Hagen
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating
I could barely set the book down since I started it. Can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy.
Published 2 months ago by Kris
5.0 out of 5 stars The strain
Loved this book plays out like a film & the pace is so fast hope the rest of the trilogy is as good as this not usually a horror book fan but this is up there a must read
Published 2 months ago by Steven Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars back to basics
Vampires back to being bad instead of lovelorn boys and girls who live forever.
I am a fan of classic horror novels such as those written by Bram Stoker and Sheriden Le Fan -... Read more
Published 3 months ago by F. Thompson
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