Review: The Strain, by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The StrainA Boeing 777 packed full of passengers lands at JFK and begins its way across the tarmac when it suddenly stops dead – the engine’s turned off, all window shades are down, all the lights are off, and no-one on board is communicating with the outside world, not even passengers screaming about delays through their cell phones.

The Strain, by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, begins with this eerie situation, and continues to pull you deep into the story at a full gallop. If you’ve been reading MsBookish.com for a while, you’ll know that I saved this book to take with me on holiday to Nova Scotia, where I then proceeded to read it one fog-filled morning, and didn’t put it down until I finished the book, late that same evening.

Perhaps not surprisingly, considering Del Toro’s film credentials, the book reads very much like an action-packed movie. Chapters are filled with shorter scenes that take the reader back and forth from place to place and character to character, all at a wonderfully thrilling speed that makes it difficult to put the book down until the very end.

Can you tell I enjoyed this book a lot? You’ve got a vampire virus thing going around, tons of suspense, the beginnings of some dark and evil mastermind plot and a motley crew of unlikely heroes – so yes, I loved it!

Be warned, though. The vampires in The Strain aren’t dark and handsome. They’re not about to play the romantic lead in any play, that’s for sure. Think more along the lines of brain-dead zombie-like creatures that just happen to want to suck your blood, and you’ll be on the right track.

Even though these ugly zombie-like vampires are involved, I wouldn’t call the book a horror novel. Nor did I find it extremely violent, either (although there are ample chopping and slashing scenes). I would put this book in the suspense thriller category, with just the right touch of spine-tingling suspense – the kind of suspense that makes you jump if someone comes up behind you while you’re reading it, especially when you’re reading it at a cottage by the Atlantic Ocean on a dark and foggy early summer night.

You don’t really want to read this one on a dark and stormy night when you’re home alone by yourself. But then again, maybe you might …

Where to buy The Strain:

U.S. (Amazon.com) | Indiebound | Canada (Chapters) | UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Review copy details: published by William Morrow/HarperCollinsPublishers, 2009, Hardcover, 401 pages

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