The Strain by G. del Toro and C Hogan

Harper | Paperback, 495 pages
Publication Date: April 1st, 2010
Adult Fiction | Horror
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Everything checked out okay upon landing approach of a Boeing 777 at JFK International Airport. But when it stalled prior to reaching the gate, air traffic controllers were stumped. It seems that the plane just died. No humming engines; electrical functions were dead, and attempts to communicate were met with silence. Theories started to circulate: Was it a terror attack? Hijacked? No one could’ve predicted what was lying in wait at the belly of that plane.

Dr. Ephraim Goodweather’s personal life is on a tailspin. He’s fighting for custody of his son; he’s still madly in love with his wife, and he’s been having an affair with a colleague for an undetermined period of time. All those are going to be shoved aside as his career as an epidemiologist will be put to the test with this infection that will sweep New York. While he and his cronies at CDC try to figure out what caused the death of all but four of the passengers of the plane, a former professor and pawnshop owner, Abraham Setrakian is about to have his chance to finally kill a lifetime enemy. Together, they will try to stop the spread of the epidemic.

In the backdrop is a solar eclipse, which is also enough to send a population into a frenzy. No sunlight means, the monsters are free to roam about the country. Although there was very little significance in the first book, I have a feeling that the authors have a grander plan for the mention of this event in book two. Because I hardly read anything of worth in the first book.

I am not a reader of horror. I’m not even a person who could  be paid to sit through an episode of Ghost Hunters (fake as that show is). When I saw the trailer for this series, I was drawn by its allusion to a contagion of sort. See, I can’t get enough of those. I love watching films about a virus that has the potential to wipe out mankind. The Strain is a different beast altogether.

How best to explain this book? Well, if you’ve read novels about the vampire lore, you know that if a vampire bit you, you will go through a change. The monster turns you into its kind. But what happens exactly? What sort of biological change does a human body go through that turns in into a blood sucking predator? This book has its explanation…sort of. But while they are vampiric in nature (sunlight kills them, blood sings to them), they are the worst imaginable monsters. They don’t just suck blood, they are also carnivores. They have the combined appetites of a zombie and a vampire. If that’s not enough to give you nightmares, then the thought that the organism that lives inside them has the capacity to find another host simply by burrowing itself into a skin should do the trick.

So listen, this book is just the beginning of this harrowing tale. People that survived the plane perished one way or another, and the best thing about it is that each one of the gory story was told in their perspectives. You will see a story about a wife with a debilitating dependence on her husband, who unfortunately, was infected. What was she to do now? She can’t even function when he goes away for business. A rock star who’d been known for some really fucked-up antics both on and off the stage; an ambitious lawyer whose grand plans to make partner was stymied by her growing need to eat her kids; a little girl who came home on her own after she was declared dead. And there are other stories. Each one more horrific than the next.

The story unfolds in a slow, deliberate progression that perfectly fits the superior thriller of an ambiance the authors were going for. The burgeoning suspense and the taut tension will have you reading to your heart’s content. My foremost complaint about this series has nothing to do with the book. It’s the tv series that’s starting to drive me mad. None of the characters’ actions were computing, and I’m livid that there seems to be an absence of creative input from the writers regarding the characters’ actions (most specifically, Nora). Regardless, I think this is the first tv series that the husband and I will be following religiously. That’s a big deal because I don’t watch tv and my husband is permanently glued to all 156 (approx.) ESPN channels.

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