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If you have found yourself reading vampire fiction and thought, You know what this needs Vampires urinating and defecating on their victims Also, tongues that shoot out of their necks with stingers on the end And, make sure that they have worms crawling out of their milky white blood Then, boy, do I have the book for you As for me You need rubber gloves to touch this book, it is so gross.This book is so disgusting that I need a bath in bleach right now to clean off the yuckiness in my brain I need some therapy Maybe something with bunnies and unicorns Ah, that s better.This book reads like a disaster movie where it is following the story of a few different characters as this vampire virus starts spreading It even starts with an airplane that is down It really seemed like something that could easily be adapted to film and might actually be better than the book I know, I know Impossible, right Usually.It also reads like a total guys book Instead of chick lit, it is a bro book There are so many descriptions of things that seem incidental to me, but might interest a guy Especially an engineer Like, when the plane is sitting on the tarmac, we get to learn all about planes, the different models, how the air traffic control system works, and airport protocol When there are bodies in the morg, we get to learn exactly what goes down at an autopsy Waaaay than I wanted to know And, we get this kind of stuff throughout In the big picture, it didn t really matter what type of plane it was, or how an autopsy is performed, but for some reason, we had pages of this stuff That was where you found me skimming.If I want to learn about airplanes, I ll google it like a sane person.So, our main hero is a guy who works for the CDC and is called in when the airplane of dead things arrives All kinds of weird and creepy shit is happening, and when a strange old man tells him it is vampires, he feels like this is a reasonable explanation.Logic Some peoples don t got it.So, they pick up their next guy to join their superhero vampire killer group an exterminator This brings us the a place where we get to learn everything there is to know about rats FML What s next, grossy mcgrosserson How the sewage system works How sausage is made And, that s really what I kept telling myself Stop reading this book, it is making you miserable But, my OCD made me finish it And, now, I m just relieved it is over Yes, it had an open ending Yes, there are of them But, no Not going there again. This is a striking example of what is officially called literatherapy So tired from finals finishing a semester long draft ending with 322 pages plus a non fiction piece PLUS grading This is sooo irrelevant, but a good assessment of this reviewer s desperate mindset whilst reading the novel I REALLY had to do something about the overstimulated brain, to lull my senses significantly and inspire me to finally do something to chillax so I got this from the library, deciding that del Toro seems to be one of the few to have something both legitimately novel and ancient to say about my favorite all time genre, that is to say, Horror.But the cliches pile up like bodies this is what I mean by literotherapy They are so irresistibly recognizable the NYC backdrop WTC site, to be exact , the creatures from the night being tied to one main baddie, a father and son finally getting close by slaying mutilating vampires as to be the equivalent of McDonalds chicken nuggets the bright day after an enormous all night fiesta There is nothing out of this world here it is a so so mix between del Toro s Mimic that crap movie I Am Legend you can practically tell where all the CGI in the movie version of the novel will be found at the creatures tongues are than ready and rendered in 3D at this point I was disappointed that there is nothing new to inform on the genre But it is not easy to contribute to it at all The familiarity of it just wrapped me up like one large, fuzzy blanket. A Boeing Arrives At JFK And Is On Its Way Across The Tarmac, When It Suddenly Stops Dead All Window Shades Are Pulled Down All Lights Are Out All Communication Channels Have Gone Quiet Crews On The Ground Are Lost For Answers, But An Alert Goes Out To The CDC Dr Ephraim Eph Goodweather, Head Of Their Canary Project, A Rapid Response Team That Investigates Biological Threats, Gets The Call And Boards The Plane What He Finds Makes His Blood Run ColdIn A Pawnshop In Spanish Harlem, A Former Professor And Survivor Of The Holocaust Named Abraham Setrakian Knows Something Is Happening And He Knows The Time Has Come, That A War Is BrewingSo Begins A Battle Of Mammoth Proportions As The Vampiric Virus That Has Infected New York Begins To Spill Out Into The Streets Eph, Who Is Joined By Setrakian And A Motley Crew Of Fighters, Must Now Find A Way To Stop The Contagion And Save His City A City That Includes His Wife And Son Before It Is Too Late It was alright I kinda got lost Zero stars for the dogs And the milky stuff ewwwww I hate milk and this made me want to gag I still have to fight gagging when watching the first Alien for the millionth time Happy Halloween Mel This just isn t very good After a promising and creepy opening, it devolves into repetitive ridiculousness The writing is also just not good and sometimes laughable, providing such gems as this Eph too had been turned Not from human to vampire, but from healer to slayer I did somehow finish it My wife did not I m sure del Toro will eventually make a movie out of this and it will be one of the rare occasions that the movie is better than the book. Seems these days if you want to make a buck, you gotta write a vampire story Don t get me wrong I ve enjoyed many vampire books out there but think the sub genre has all but been bled dry So along comes a book co authored by visionary Guillermo Del Toro, a favorite movie director of mine, that claims to turn the concept of the vampire story on to its head So yeah, I had high hopes for the book It s too bad that after the promising first few chapters it simulated the experience of watching a bad TV mini series with a blindfold on complete with cliche characters, anti climactic and wholly ridiculous action scenes, and a very predictable and unsatisfying ending Here s the set up after a triple 7 jumbo jet taxis onto a JFK runway it goes mysteriously and completely belly up That s a hook All shades are inexplicably drawn and no one is able to communicate with the pilots or gain entrance to the plane Neat o What gives Once it s pried open like a tin of sardines and the door mysteriously opens they find a whole lot of people restfully peacefully in their seats, all dead Oh, and a coffin filled with some very nice compost Thankfully, a small cast of stereotypes is perceived to still be alive the pilot, the rock star, the vicious lawyer bitch, the cute kid and serve as some of the agents of the book s slow plot progression.We are left with some intriguing questions What s that horrible smell Why were all the shades drawn How did this very modern plane with independent and redundant electrical systems fail all at once Why were there no signs of struggle How did that coffin get through Customs when I have to practically strip naked to get on a plane Well, one of these questions is kind of answered in the rest of the book so I hope you re not a nitpicker like me.Enter our good guy, a free thinking doctor from the CDC with marriage problems He s not a bad fellow you see, he just works so hard at his job but BOY does he love his son He could have completed the cliche by being named Jack but instead goes byEph.Following our intrepid hero throughout the book, for no other reason than to provide a romantic interest and a counterpoint to his limp, wet dish rag relationship with his ex wife, is Nora, the Strong Silent Type So silent that she isn t given than two sentences of dialog throughout the entire book despite being nearly inseparable from our protagonist If this trilogy does make it to the theaters as so many speculate I feel for the woman cast in this thankless role.Expanding on our list of characters, we have a burly exterminator no, really, we do and a Holocaust survivor turned avenging vampire slayer, Abraham Rambo Setrakian Abe, though pushing 80 something, according to my calculations, is an absolute death dealing merchant in the presence of those pesky vampires His walking stick predictably conceals a silver Ginsu sword which he swings about like Errol freakin Flynn and yells My sword sings silver or something equally silly as he lops heads, arms, and other vampire appendages free in a furious rage Oh please Abe hints at the end of the book that there s a lot about the vampires that the authors have been keeping him from saying We ll see if that pays off in the future books.So, this whole redefining the genre nonsense You re asking yourself Can this really be true In a word, no As I said, the vampire genre has petered out significantly The recent publication of The Passage was entertaining and somewhat original but the concept of vampires being created by viruses was plumbed many times before Micheal Romkey s vampire books come to mind Cripes, one of them was even called The Vampire Virus The vampire elements could have been assembled from any number of checklists The Strain is purely paint by numbers.The middle of the book is maddeningly repetitive We are quickly presented with a sketch or our next victim in their home, arriving home, or leaving their home Their routine is interrupted by Something Unusual dirt on the floor, a Haitian housekeeper sneaking into a house, the shed door being strangely open, etc The soon to be victims move forward without a flashlight or lights turned on to investigate, unsuccessfully trying to build up some tension in the reader, are faced with a turned vampire usually a relative, friend, or cute kid are are pounced upon, drained by the vampire s proboscis, and pooped and urinated on by the attacker Aaaaand scene This is played out so many DAMN times with so many people we don t know or care about it becomes nearly unbearable The Strain might refer as much to the effort it takes to make it through these tedious scenes as it does the vampire virus.Other parts of the book are meant to inform the reader city rats, the inner workings of the CDC, the lunar eclipse HA HA It s actually an occultation, you fool for example but are so unnecessarily drawn out that they detract from what little story there is As I felt recently with Cherie Priest s Boneshaker book, less is often in these cases Lookit me I did my RESEARCH As for logic problems and plot holes, they exist a plenty I won t go into all of them but the biggest to me seem to involve the virus itself If it s a virus, why do our vampire buddies require an invitation to cross a body of water Is the virus transmitted by vampire blood or by these pesky inchworms Why would silver affect the vampires the way it does What the heck is with the coffin, other than it being a carryover from other vampire novels Its purpose is never explained and the reader is left wondering if there is any reason for it at all I also wonder how a Holocaust survivor turned professor turned pawn shop owner, an exterminator, and a doctor all somehow turn into vampire slaying ninjas in a matter of hours They are slicing, dicing, kicking, flipping, and karate chopping the vampires with such ruthless efficiency they emerge from every scuffle without a scratch This not only demolishes the believability of the book but also makes us even less interested in each skirmish s outcome We already know they ll be triumphant even if they are picked up by the head like a basketball with dandruff, thrown clear across the room into walls, and beset upon by legions of strong, fast, toothy monsters Hell bent to destroy them For all the slapstick violence The Strain could almost have been titled The Three Stooges Meet Dracula save for the lack of humor.We are given glimpses of some of the other six vampire Mafiosos near the end and are led to believe some kind of Vampire War is coming Some kind of truce was formed and 3 Bosses got land over there, the other 3 got land over here Our main vampire Boss in this book appears to have gotten the short end of the stick somewhere along the line and has been causing all sorts of ruckus of late because, darn it, he s had enough and he s not going to take it any With a set up like that the series promises to get a whole lot worse before getting any better And I m just talking about the writing and plot. This is the first of a planned trilogy The director of Pan s Labyrinth and an award winning mystery author brings their vision to the vampire tale Del Toro and friend from Geek Nation The Strain is a fast, entertaining read, with a twist to the rationale for vampirism that is fun, if a bit derivative In fact a lot of this book is derivative, cobbling together elements from a host of books and films There is a scene that is reminiscent of the haunted ship sequence in Dracula In the original a ship that is carrying Dracula s coffin, home soil, and Drac himself, makes it to its destination, but the ship is completely depopulated In this one an airplane manages to land, but all the passengers succumb to an instantaneous malady that appears to kill all but four of the people aboard Fans of Alien will recognize a smile at how these vamps bite their prey The subcutaneous squigglies that appear here will be familiar to anyone with the SyFy channel in their cable package The New York setting brings together hints of 9 11 with the sort of I Am Legend scenario of one or a few real humans holding off the vampiric hordes There is a strong element of 24 Days here as well How long will it be before the entire city, and then the nation is overtaken by the bloodsuckers And the vamps here seem to share considerable DNA with zombies There is a hint of Underworld and even Anne Rice in that there is mention of battles between factions of the undead No doubt fodder for volumes 2 and 3.While I found the frequent homages they are homages, right, not crass copying to prior works tiresome after the first batch, I enjoyed some of the mechanisms presented as ways of dispatching the blood hungry, and the added nuance to how mirrors work And the name Eldritch Palmer summons not only Lovecraft, but Philip K Dick s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.Jonathan Hyde as Eldritch Palmer from Mashable.comdelToro and Hogan have fun with darkness, from the dark cave that first takes the evil giant Sardu, to the darkness of the death plane, to the darkness of the solar eclipse They head to the appropriate underworld of the New York infrastructure and counterpoint a bit with the skyscraper home of a prime baddie A solar eclipse is imminent actually, the next one in NYC is not until 2079 and some people ascribe the extant madness to that event There are plenty of nifty visuals here, to be expected given that one author is such a master of visual media.David Bradley as Abraham Selvakian from The Mental AtticOur Van Helsing is Abraham Selvakian, an old pawnbroker and Talmudic scholar The authors go a bit overboard with some of their naming Our CDC hero is Ephrain Goodweather ReallyCorey Stoll at Ephrain Goodweather From IGNI enjoyed the vampire mechanism explanation, but I felt a strong compulsion not to look too closely I expect it would not hold up to any but the most cursory inspection And how did all the passengers on that plane suffer the same fate at the same time Surely someone saw someone else being harmed and left his or her seat, at the very least the Master from The Strain WikiaThe TV show, from which the above images were all taken, is fun, as is the book but, for both book and show, you will definitely have to check your brain before jumping in And what s that wormy thing on your arm 6.0 stars this one may make it onto my All Time Favorite list This is instantly on my list of the top five Vampire stories I have ever read or in this case read and also listened to on audiobook I am not a vampire book reader in general meaning I do not buy every new vampire story that comes out I do read a lot of SF Fantasy Horror and so I do come across them on a fairly typical basis For me, what makes a great vampire novel is when you can create a completely original or mostly original take on the very well known Vampire mythos Examples of well done, original vampire stories IMHO include 1 Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons 2 Agyar by Steven Brust and 3 the Lestat novels by Anne Rice yes these have been much imitated since they first came out and are likely responsible for the myriad of vampire novels out today but at the time they were ground breaking and created a whole new Vampire Mythos The Strain adds to this legacy by handling the vampire mythos in a very effective way In addition to making the vampires completely alien and scary i.e., no pretty people biting pretty people , the book is structured in a very clinical CSI type fashion which I thought was very well done Another very interesting and original aspect of the book is the way it explores the struggle of the newly infected in coping with what they are becoming and the danger they pose to their friends and family Very well done Highly recommended What if vampires were real, ancient, and spread their vampirism like a virus That s the central premise of The Strain, and I was on board from the first page Ultimately, it was a disappointment for me, and I won t be reading the other books in the trilogy.This book starts out with so much promise It s a taught, intense, compelling thriller that gradually introduces compelling characters that it s easy to care about.Then, in its middle third, it starts to wobble a little bit The characters start doing things that don t make sense based on what we know about them, but because the slightly too convenient plot demands it There were still enough interesting bits to keep me reading, but just past the halfway mark, I started to lose interest.In the final third, it completely collapses under the weight of lazy, hacky writing that moves from one set piece to the next, sloppily throwing in brief and unsatisfying character moments as an afterthought.So I m of two minds on this one, everything I stated above The other, maybe I could have just suspended my disbelief and enjoyed the ride which, I suspect, a lot of readers are able to do.Strangely, I expect that a lot of what didn t work for me in this book will actually play out fairly well on the television series that starts in July, and I m interested to see how they will handle it. This is a terrible book Nearly all of the characters were caricatures straight out of Central Casting, or TV Tropes We had the Wise Old Guy, the Street Smart Shitkicker, The Brain, and The Chick Oh, and speaking of The Chick, there were two the love interest of the Brain and the nagging, irrational Ex Wife because Ex Wives must never be charming and smart mother of The Wesley Crusher son of The Brain The whole book reads as though somebody figured out how to do Novel By Numbers and made a bestseller out of it Wait That s probably exactly what happened i.e., book packager So why three stars Because I couldn t put the damn thing down Even bought the sequel and devoured it too how bizarre is that It s terrible, but riveting The fresh take on vampirism which I didn t think I would care about because I DON T LIKE VAMPIRE NOVELS was enough to keep me reading despite the wooden characterization and leaden prose And then somehow I started liking the damn thing I never liked the good guys , kept hoping for them to die but the villains were so much worse that I kept hoping for them to die first Eventually I was just reading to enjoy every single character s death I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS.But any book that hooked me this hard deserves at least three stars, so here they are Oy vey.