Okay, so this one is also a little out of my usual wheelhouse, but it was good. I got the idea to read this from following Wil Wheaton on Twitter. He really enjoyed it and as I am something of a geeky mind with him, I thought I’d give it a shot. Writer/director Guillermo del Toro (Yes, the man who directed the Hell Boy movies and Pan’s Labyrinth) hooked up with author Chuck Hogan to bring both a book trilogy and a television series called The Strain.
I’ve been a little disappointed with vampire themed books as late. I loved Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned. Those were the books that got me into fantasy/urban fantasy novels. I’d had hopes for the Anita Blake books, but they just turned into pure porn and the main character went from a fierce and principled person to a bit of a damsel in distress. Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels also started strong and ended with a whimper, so I’m a little leery of starting new vamp related series.
That being said, I finished this almost six hundred page book in about three hours. Its good, though I’m still debating whether I want to read the rest of the series. The best description I can give is that this is Outbreak meets Dracula. In this book, vampires are a parasite that transforms the host into a parastic, almost zombie-like really, feeding organism.
The main protagonist is an doctor with the CDC, Ephraim Goodweather. Goodweather is called in to JFK when a plane from Berlin just stops on a runway after landing. They made a perfectly safe, soft landing and then the plane went dark. When they finally get people on board, everyone is dead. Fearing some sort of bioterrorism, the CDC is called in.
And in a way, it is bioterrorism, but not in the way they’re expecting. While Ephraim and his coworker Nora Martinez are trying to figure out what killed all those people before it starts to spread (and it will), super richie rich Eldritch Palmer (okay, del Toro, really? Eldritch?) is actively working with the vampire master that was on the plane. He’s actively trying to spread this plague in return for immortality. Natch.
Meanwhile, the only one who knows what’s going on is an old Jewish gentleman who survived the extermination camps, a man by the name of Abraham Setrakian. Setrakian’s grandmother used to tell him stories of a monster named Sardu from her home town in the mountains of Eastern Europe. He himself saw the same monster while trying to survive the Nazis. He made it his life’s mission to be able to fight these things. At first, Ephraim doesn’t believe the raving old man, but when he can no longer deny it, he goes to the old man for help.
Anyway, I won’t go into too much detail but it was really good. There are real human connections in this book. More than just “oh, you’re cute, let’s hop in bed”. Ephraim Goodweather is trying to be a good dad in the midst of a divorce. AI’ll have to check out the series, I think. Rating: A.