Customer Review

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Trashy But Fun, 5 Dec 2011
This review is from: The Strain (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. All but four passengers on the plane are killed but then the ones who `died' on the plane come back to life in the morgue and then head home to their Dear Ones. Ok fine, however it was mentioned previously that when the Ancients fed, they made sure to kill their prey so they wouldn't reanimate and become `turned'. When I first read this I assumed that that is what had happened and the four who had survived were spared to serve a purpose. I'm confused as to why four would be apparently spared and the rest `killed' when they are ALL going to end up the same - a newly turned vampire.

Also, while I'm mentioning the plane, at no point does it become obvious or is it explained how every single passenger on the flight succumbed to the one vampire at exactly the same time. I've discussed with a friend and he could offer no definitive answer, and he's read the full trilogy.

Now on to the survivors. Three out of the four survivors are explained and investigated further by Del Toro and Hogan about what happened to them apart from the lawyer. The co-pilot is killed fairly early on, Ansel is killed in his shed, Bolivar becomes some sort of bodyguard slave to the Ancient/Sardu - where the hell is the lawyer?
About two-thirds of the way through the book her husband returns home, gets attacked, escapes and runs up the road. That's the last we hear of him. What the hell has happened to him? Did he escape? Did he survive the night? We don't know.
About halfway through the book, the lawyer's children are rescued by the housemaid and taken to her place, but yet again nothing else is mentioned of them after this so we, the readers, are just left wondering. It's frustrating to say the least.

It could be argued that these characters were overlooked and not really mentioned again for a number of reasons: one could be that the action had really started at this point with Eph and Setrakian hunting the vampires so mentioning a menial character at this stage would slow the action down; another reason could be that they are going to resurface in the sequel. If that is the case, it is a shoddy technique by the authors' and one that should have been slapped down by the editor.

I will read the rest of this trilogy as overall I did enjoy this book. I know it's not that well written or thought out. I know there are gaping holes in the theme and plot that need to be addressed by the authors'. I know all of this, but I still enjoyed it because every now and then I need to read a book that doesn't take itself too seriously. If I went to this book with expectations of anything other than it being a `trashy but fun' read, then I would probably be disappointed, but as it stands, it is exactly what I was promised by my friend.
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