Thursday, February 19, 2009
Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan gives us vampires as they should be.....Evil!
You can blame it on Joss Whedon. Ever since Buffy the Vampire Slayer fell in love with Angel, a vampire with a soul we were flooded with books with vampire slayers, mind readers, witches and demons falling in love with vampires. Now don't get me wrong. I love the series Buffy and Angel but with a few exceptions vampires were being written as the heroes(and again don't get me wrong here there are some well written books out). And don't get me started on the Twilight series.
These days most book stores don't even have a horror section. If a book has vampires in them it most likely winds up in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section or it's labeled "Paranormal Romance" and is shelved in the romance section.
It just that it's has been a long time since I have read a good horror novel with vampires were clearly evil(Brian Lumley's novels come to mind) and were out to either destroy humans or turn them into vampires as well.
Well now Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan has changed that with their novel The Strain.
This is the first of a trilogy(release date 6/2/2009) that begins at JFK Airport. As soon as a plane land it goes dark. No lights, no communication, no nothing. It doesn't take long to figure something is very wrong. As the plane is boarded things go from bad to worse very quickly as all the passengers and crew are found dead.
I don't have to tell you the cause of those death since the book is about vampires. But I will tell you this, from the time the plane lands Mr. Del Toro and Mr Hogan keep the pace of the book fast and the suspense coming, never slowing down.
The Strain has all the classic things about a great vampire novel that clearly we have to thank Bram Stoker for. You can make comparisons of some the books characters to characters from Dracula. There is Abraham Setrakians(Van Helsing) who knows of the vampires existence and who has planned for their coming. Ephraim Goodweather and Nora Martinez(Dr.Seward and Quincy Morris or Arthur Holmwood) who work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and they don't know or believe in the existence of vampires but as the story progresses can't help to see the truth. Eldritch Palmer(Renfield) who has a unknown connection to the vampire.
As for the vampires. Del Toro and Hogan seem to borrow from all different versions of the vampire to make their own, maybe not totally unique version but one they can call their own. But what is so great about their vampires is that they aren't some shiny, take some one to the prom, fall in love with a slayer kind. Their vampire are as they should be, Evil and scary. These are the vampires I read about and loved as a kid, late a night when the house was quiet and every one else was asleep.
Everything about The Strain is what horror should be. Good vs Evil with the humanity's existence at stake(no pun intended). But with a out come that doesn't absolutely mean that Good will win.
The plot is well done and the writing team keeps it nice and tight and doesn't go astray(with some trilogies in the first book a writer can introduce to many plots and then when the third book comes will tend to rush to tie all loose ends or even forget some). The characters(both major and minor) are written well and believable. You are invested in their lives and as with any good book you are never sure if the heroes will survive.
Is The Strain the most original novel, maybe not but between the first and last page Mr. Del Toro and Mr. Hogan write a classic horror novel that surely makes me want to read the next installment.