A Review of The Strain
By Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
I bought this book at least three years ago when I was at Barnes & Noble with my cousin. She was super into microbial-apocalyptic-end-of-the-world novels at the time, and convinced me to pick up this book (despite the gruesome cover). After getting it home, I really had no plans to read it, so it sat on my shelf until now. Honestly, the reason I even pick up this book was I couldn’t really figure out which shelf I wanted it to go on, so obviously I had to read the book to figure that out. Obviously. (I know I have a problem… Don’t judge me.)
The book opens on a 777 Boeing plane full of passengers. After landing successfully, the plane goes dark and never shows up at its assigned gate. The crew has gone silent, all the window shades have been drawn, and nobody knows what to do. After calling in the rapid response team at the CDC, Doctors Ephraim Goodweather and Nora Martinez suit up and head onto the plane. What they find is shocking; seemingly every person on the plane has died with no probable cause. Not only that, but the entire plane seems dead, and the only man who knows what’s going on is a Holocaust survivor name Abraham Setrakian. After seeing news of the plane on the TV, Abraham knows exactly what’s happening; he has seen this vampiric virus spread in a past life. As Abraham and the doctors team up to wage war against the spreading infection, they struggle to contain the virus before its too late, and its spreading faster than they could have imagined.
This book was very well written, and is definitely a page-turner. As soon the book opens, it draws you in and makes you want to just. keep. reading. The scenes are set up well, the characters are likable, and the stories are fast-paced. Even though this book is 500+ pages (in paperback), I tore through it in just a few busy days. One thing I really appreciated about this book was that it tied in childhood horror stories from another culture, horrors from history, and modern life. I’ve read a lot of dystopian/apocalyptic/epidemic novels, and I have to say that this one drew me in and intrigued me more than many others that I’ve read. However, there were some things that (as a really weird person) bothered me enough to where I will not be reading the rest of the trilogy.
I know this will sound stupid, but worms that infect people are parasites. Not viruses. Additionally, viruses insert themselves into host cells DNA, hijacking the replication process and eventually taking over the host body in some cases. In this book, the infection is both of those things. Which. is. literally. impossible. and it DROVE. ME. NUTS. In many of the scenes, little white worms are noted as infecting people, but when scientists look at the infectious agent, they note it as a virus due to its replication process. Now, I know that this is a stupid thing to let ruin the book for me, but I can’t help it; I’ve got problems, okay?! There were also a few inconsistencies that I found confusing, but perhaps those things are explained better in the other books? The world (me) will never know.
My Recommendations: Either way, this was a good book. Sometimes it can be really hard to find epidemic/apocalyptic/dystopian novels that are not written for young adults, and this book does not disappoint. If you aren’t a crazy person that gets upset about parasite-versus-virus confusion, read this book! Del Toro and Hogan do a great job setting up the characters and the world, all while maintaining a high-intensity story that will draw you in. If you’re not one for books, this series has also been turned into a TV series that is getting pretty good reviews (I haven’t seen it), so consider checking that out instead.