Wednesday, March 16, 2011
No swooning here
Blood-sucking armies of the undead, anyone?
While sometimes a little sketchy and derivative, overall I enjoyed Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan's horror novel The Strain, appreciating the book's old-school approach to vampires. No sexy, seductive specimens who look good with their shirts off here: these vampires are scary, dangerous and gross. This horror fan appreciated that.
Also, I liked the way the story has it both ways: there's a scientific explanation for the vampires, but also a kind of evil vibe throughout the whole affair that suggests there likely was a supernatural curse somewhere in the distant past that got the whole vampire virus started.
With its handful of reluctant heroes operating on a near-apocalyptic battleground (the "near" may be gone by the second book in the trilogy), The Strain felt like one of those big Stephen King epics about the end of the world, but with a somewhat lighter, more comic-booky touch (but I'm talking good comic book here). There are even a couple of cliffhangers (including one involving a mysterious second strain of vampires) that felt like the cliffhangers in old Marvel comics from the 80's (but again, the good comics).
While I can't quite say that The Strain is a spectacular, entirely original, must-read horror novel, I can say it's a more-than-decent horror novel that's worth one's time. Heck, on the "originality" point, it's clear that the book isn't even trying to be super original, just a refreshing return to the kind of vampires horror fans used to enjoy before they became way too good-looking, stylish, and blow-dried (and played by teen idols in the movies). So kudos for that aspect of the story alone.
I'll definitely move onto The Fall, book two of the trilogy.
I listened to "The Strain" via an unabridged audio production (nicely read by Ron Perlman), that I acquired from Audible.com. Audible's prices vary, depending on your purchasing plan. You can also read "The Strain" on your Kindle for $8.99.