Skip to main content

CR3 #8: The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The Strain is the first book in a trilogy. It begins with a giant jet airplane landing at JFK and then going inexplicably dark. When the authorities finally board it, they discover every single passenger is dead--or so it appears, anyway.

This is a book about vampires, although their vampires more closely resemble the Reapers of Blade II than they do the traditional Bram Stoker style living dead. They're fast, creepy, gross, and dangerously close to taking over New York City.

Up against these bloodsuckers is a small group of concerned citizens. First there is Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, an epidemiologist from the CDC. (Mostly unrelated note: from the moment I read the name, all I could think of was Dr. Stanley Goodspeed from The Rock. Therefore, I read Eph as Nicolas Cage.) He is accompanied by his on-again-off-again girlfriend/colleague Nora Martinez. There is also Abraham Setrakian, a Holocaust survivor and the group's Van Helsing, a man who has been preparing for this "incursion" since his youth at Treblinka. In other parts of the city, a young Mexican gang banger and an exterminator have their own parts to play. To complicate matters, there is Eph's ex-wife Kelly and their son Zach. All of these characters are watching the world fall apart and trying to figure out how to cope, let alone fight back.

I find that this book very closely resembles another old favorite, Salem's Lot by Stephen King. From the arrival of the master vampire to the small band of slayers trying not to be overwhelmed, there are some definite similarities. In fact, there is a very definite parallel between what happens to the female lead in Salem's Lot and what happens to Kelly here. To be honest, I found it almost distracting how alike the two stories are, though The Strain plays out on a larger stage, and being a trilogy will have more room to spread out.

I definitely enjoyed the book, and I also found it pretty spooky--walking home from work last night, I saw someone sort of staggering along from the opposite direction, backlit by the street light, and had a moment of panic. Although this is not a genre-changing novel, it's certainly a good read, and I intend to invest in the sequels.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

CR3 # 17: Mount Misery by Samuel Shem

Mount Misery is the sequel to Samuel Shem's first book, House of God (review here). It follows Dr. Roy Basch as he leaves the House of God and moves to psychiatric hospital Mount Misery to begin his psychiatric residency. Unfortunately, it turns out that psychiatrists are just as crazy, confused, and often detrimental as medical doctors. As Dr. Basch cycles through the various sectors of the hospital (talk therapy, admissions, Freudian Analysis, drug therapy) he is horrified to discover that it seems everything he is being taught is not only wrong, but potentially dangerous. He begins to fall into terrible patterns of behavior, mirroring the problems his patients are having. Each area is worse than the last, with one doctor who thinks the best way to treat is to be aggressively hostile, one who cares only about insurance premiums and efficiency, one who treats with silence and "regression," and one who thinks the only viable treatment is to pump every patient full of exp…

CBR9 #5 Borgin Keep by Ron Ripley

I've read the entire Berkeley Street series, as well as the Haunted series, and I think this was definitely one of the better offerings. This time, former Marine Shane and his slowly growing band of willing (and unwilling) ghost hunting allies face their biggest challenge yet. While the ghosts of Borgin Keep are both very dangerous and very evil, Shane also must keep one step ahead of The Watchers, a ruthless and powerful organization who find him to be a threat to their shadowy goals.

As always, for me the best part are the characters. Shane and his ghost-hunting partner Frank (a former soldier/former monk) are joined once again by police detective Marie LaFontaine, who is a very tough woman determined to avenge a dead friend. I'm not as fond of Shane's girlfriend Courtney, but I understand her uses as far as character development.

The plot moves along quickly, and I found this book a little better fleshed out than a few of the previous ones in the series -- while I enjoye…

CBR9 #3: Missing Wives, Missing Lives by JJ Slate

There's a lot of discussion these days about things that are dangerous to women--is it heart disease? Is it stress? Car accidents? Drugs? Serial killers? Trans women in bathrooms?--but it seems like one of the biggest hazards to women are the men in their lives.

This book details the cases of thirty women who vanished. Stretching back to 1976, and with cases as recent as 2007, the women featured in this book seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth, never to be seen again. For some, the legal system was able to prove a case against the men in their lives, but for others, the search for justice may never be resolved.

The amazing thing to me was the stories that the husbands gave upon their wives' disappearances. "So, you had a fight, and she just left the house--at 3am. In her pajamas. Barefoot. Without her purse, or her glasses, or her car, or her TEETH? Leaving her small dependent children behind. And you decided to say nothing for three weeks? And while she was gon…