Friday, July 17, 2009

The Strain

I've just started reading 'The Strain', a vampire novel co-written by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hagen.

In some ways, it's reminding me of the Garden of Last Days in the way it's spending so much time focusing on the arrival of a plane filled with dead passengers (*), and the ensuing examination by the CDC. Like Garden, The Strain is also creating a sense of approaching doom.

(*) A nice riff on Dracula's arrival in England on the Demeter.

In other ways, it's reminding me of novels like the Keep and Nightworld by F. Paul Wilson with a little bit of Tom Clancy thrown in - pulpy, Euro-mystical (although not as bug-nuts insane as Wilson's 'Nightworld'), with a bit of 'super-competent protagonist' syndrome we usually find in modern blockbuster fiction. Oh, and a tendency to show off the authors' ability to google every single detail in the book to add an air of authority to what they're saying. (**)

(**) Something I'm guilty of, too!

I'm enjoying it so far (A biological horror novel? That sounds tailor-made for me), and I'm wondering how nasty and apocalyptic it's going to get. From the foreshadowing that's been going on, I can certainly see an I Am Legend level of civilisation destruction approaching -- and it'll be interesting to see how that plays out compared to the book's current sedate, precise tone.

... oh, and it has gotten under my skin. Last night, just after I started reading it, I had three separate vampirey/cannibally dreams ... which is a slightly higher rate than usual.

A couple of other things of note:
  • I'm not really interested in any of the characters yet - they seem more like chess pieces with arbitrary flaws and likeable traits - but because they're in an interesting situation, I'm willing to follow them
  • However, one character (Gus) has just been involved in a vividly written, short action sequence that's gotten him into a lot of trouble. He may be a Hispanic gang-member but what's happened to him is unfair, and I'm interested in finding out what happens to him next
  • ... and if people are interested, I can talk a little about the thing the novel is doing that I once considered doing myself and decided that it would be in bad taste (there would be spoilers, though)
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