Customer Reviews for

The Strain (Strain Trilogy #1)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

30 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

Best book I've read in several years!

I am an avid reader sometimes finishing 6 books a week. I have always loved the thriller genre and was looking forward to this book. I read it in one sitting and was not diappointed in it. I have never taken the time to write a book review until The Strain.. The boo...
I am an avid reader sometimes finishing 6 books a week. I have always loved the thriller genre and was looking forward to this book. I read it in one sitting and was not diappointed in it. I have never taken the time to write a book review until The Strain.. The book pulled me in from the very beginning at the airport and never let up. It reminded me of a conglomerate of the writing of Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and Robin Cook. Although the plot seems almost preposterous I believe the cental characters made me come to accept the storyline. It is well written and exciting and I cannot wait until Book Two!

posted by storker on June 7, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

13 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

Are these guys for real?

I can't for the life of me understand all the positive reviews on this site.

This book is full of horrible writing, grammatical errors and ideas that have been beaten to death in a hundred other, better written books. Plus the plot is absolutely nonsensical and s...
I can't for the life of me understand all the positive reviews on this site.

This book is full of horrible writing, grammatical errors and ideas that have been beaten to death in a hundred other, better written books. Plus the plot is absolutely nonsensical and suffers from continuity problems galore. For example: (Spoiler) vampirism is a purely biological affliction, however, vampires can't cross running water without assistance from living humans. Well, why not? Does that sound like a biological problem to you? The book is filled with little things like this that just don't make any sense.

Biggest of all, the book NEVER EXPLAINS what the deal is with all the dead people on the plane, which is only the soul focus of practically the entire first half of the book.

Full of dialog gems such as:

"She could tell by the look on his face that he was troubled by the look on her face."

Just flat out horrible writing.

Del Toro makes great movies, I'll give him that.

posted by WearCleanDraws on October 8, 2010

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  • Posted June 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Best book I've read in several years!

    I am an avid reader sometimes finishing 6 books a week. I have always loved the thriller genre and was looking forward to this book. I read it in one sitting and was not diappointed in it. I have never taken the time to write a book review until The Strain.. The book pulled me in from the very beginning at the airport and never let up. It reminded me of a conglomerate of the writing of Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and Robin Cook. Although the plot seems almost preposterous I believe the cental characters made me come to accept the storyline. It is well written and exciting and I cannot wait until Book Two!

    30 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 20, 2009

    THE STRAIN is like Vampire Anatomy 101

    Well, if you're idea of fun includes vampires, biological horror, scary folk tales, and the undead walking the earth, then I have a recommendation for you:

    THE STRAIN - book one of the trilogy of novels from Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

    If you're a big GDT fan (and I assume you are because you're reading this blog), then you are getting some classic, old school Guillermo here. This is his triumphant return to horror in a whole new medium.

    The end result?

    BLADE 2 meets CSI.

    THE STRAIN is not a meditation like PAN'S LABYRINTH, or a metaphorical folk tale like THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE. It is an in-your-face horror thriller that is not for the squeamish.

    Needless to say, I really enjoyed this book. It is very well written and honestly, I couldn't put it down. For my money, nothing holds my interest like a vampire plague, and this book has some cool new twists to the vampire mythology.

    The premise of a vampire "infecting" its victims with a virus is not completely new: I've seen the idea before. What THE STRAIN does well is explore the infection of the unfortunate victim in great detail. The main character of THE STRAIN is Ephraim Goodweather, epidemiologist for the Center of Disease Control. His investigation as to the nature of this sudden and mysterious plague requires understanding the nature and effects of the virus itself.

    In other words, the entire book is like playing in GDT's sandbox of the scientifically weird and grotesque. It is a medical journal for Guillermo's vision of the ultimate vampire.

    Talk about Gross Anatomy.

    I won't spoil anything about the vampires for you - that's the best part of the book - but I will say that they bare a striking similarity to the Reapers in BLADE 2. I know Guillermo said that he wasn't able to fully realize the Reapers the way he wanted to in that film, so perhaps this is finally his perfect vision of a vampire: grotesque, horrible, thirsty and a perfect evolutionary predator.

    The wonderful part about THE STRAIN is that the novel is the perfect medium for bringing GDT's vampires to life. You understand them inside and out (literally), but also you'll get uncomfortable access to the thoughts and fears of those who are infected...or are being infected.

    And that's stuff you'll never get from a movie, so consider it the ultimate bonus feature.

    17 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2009

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    For Non-Stop Action and Creative Monsters, Catch The Strain

    Normally, I'm turned off by novels written by a team of writers. Perhaps that's because I'm a writer myself, and I cannot comprehend how the creative process can be unselfishly shared with another. Had it not been my passion for two of Guillermo Del Toro's film projects, "Pan's Labyrinth" and "The Orphanage," I more than likely would not have read The Strain. What a tragedy that would have been, for this novel is one of the most exciting and page-turning stories I have encountered in a very long time.

    The story opens with one of the most uniquely bizarre events ever dreamt. An overseas flight arrives in New York. Upon taxiing to the terminal, the plane stops. All of its electrical functions cease and communication is lost. Upon examination of the plane, all of the passengers and crew (with the exception of four individuals) are found dead. What ensues is an outbreak of a unique blood infection that transforms its victims into blood-thirsty, vicious vampires.

    No, these are not the romantic and handsome vampires of modern fascination. Fans of Sookie Stackhouse or the Twilight series will be mortified if they read The Strain. Nor are these the sophisticated and classy drawing room vampires of Anne Rice of Bram Stoker. Del Toro's and Hogan's vampires are monsters, whose bodies transform into something other than human. Their mouths widen to reveal a long and sharp tongue-like appendage that slashes at their victims' necks to begin the blood flow. Think of the vampires in Matheson's I Am Legend or consider some of the more recent Zombie films like "28 Days Later" or the remake of "Dawn of the Dead." These creates are more comparable to the vampires in The Strain than any of the more traditional vampire roles.

    The Strain takes off from page one and does not stop, even at the end of the story. Before reading the book, consider that it is the first in what is to be a trilogy. Therefore, do not expect any resolution to the major conflicting issues in the book by the end of this installment. Also, I do not recommend reading this book unless you have a significant chunk of time to devote all at once. Its short chapters, non-stop action, and lingering suspense make it a true page-turner, one that is very difficult to put down. It is written perfectly for development into a film. Characterization and internal conflict are lacking, but the descriptive violence and unique nature of the monsters make up for any missing elements. Highly recommended.

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 8, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Are these guys for real?

    I can't for the life of me understand all the positive reviews on this site.

    This book is full of horrible writing, grammatical errors and ideas that have been beaten to death in a hundred other, better written books. Plus the plot is absolutely nonsensical and suffers from continuity problems galore. For example: (Spoiler) vampirism is a purely biological affliction, however, vampires can't cross running water without assistance from living humans. Well, why not? Does that sound like a biological problem to you? The book is filled with little things like this that just don't make any sense.

    Biggest of all, the book NEVER EXPLAINS what the deal is with all the dead people on the plane, which is only the soul focus of practically the entire first half of the book.

    Full of dialog gems such as:

    "She could tell by the look on his face that he was troubled by the look on her face."

    Just flat out horrible writing.

    Del Toro makes great movies, I'll give him that.

    13 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Thrilling!

    Whoa!!! This is one of the best books I have read this year!!!! To say that I LOVED it would be an extreme understatement. From the moment I turned to page one I was hooked. I only stopped in between to get a bit less scared.

    On September 24th 2010 a commercial plane lands at JFK. In the control tower someone notices that the plane never taxied to the final runway to off load its passengers and all contact with the plane has been lost. Efforts to reach the pilot come to naught and even more mystifying is the fact that the plane has gone dark. Is it terrorism? Is it some sort of biological attack? What exactly is going on? Emergency services rush to the scene and find everyone to be seemingly dead. They begin to investigate and cannot understand what has happened. Dr Ephraim Goodweather along with his partner Dr. Nora Martinez, both from the Center for Disease Control, are called in to investigate the disease angle. But nothing in their medical training can prepare them for how this story will unfold. They quickly discover four survivors whose memory of the landing is absent and provide no clues as to what has happened.

    Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan have managed to weave a tale that melds science and myth in a way that I personally have not seen done in a long time. Though they draw on certain long established vampire lore, there is definitely a different slant to the way they lay out the story. The horror that this is taking place in modern times serves to make the story even more terrifying. The way in which scenes are laid out and the masterful descriptiveness will have you on the edge of your seat and almost screaming out loud.

    One of the things that I noticed as I read the book was that it was very much like a movie. I began picturing how this story would appear on screen and maybe even what actor would play what part. It is very possible it seems this way because of Del Toro's contribution to the story(Del Toro directed Pan's Labyrinth). For the most part the authors stayed away from the usual mistake of having their main characters make stupid mistakes that propel them into dangerous situations. Except for one instance where I was forced to roll my eyes at the sheer carelessness of Ephraim, characters found themselves in danger not out of their own making but from the unfolding horror. By writing smart characters, they created people who were believable and sympathetic. There was a refreshing lack of melodrama between the characters and there was no beautiful woman that everyone is trying to save(Thank goodness for that). The vampires are evil, ugly and dank. These are not the sexy vampires of Anne Rice or the clean cut vampires that I hear populate the Twilight series. No, these vampires hate you and want to feast on your blood in a most horrifying way. Gosh I am almost scared to ride the subway home tonight.

    This is book one in a trilogy and I cannot wait to read what comes next.

    11 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2009

    Very disappointed

    When I bought this book I was looking forward to a new and inventive take on the vampire genre, I was very wrong. It started off well but soon degenerated into a mix of the stand, salems lot and the virus he penned for the second in the blade trilogy. The lack of originality was evident all through the book and besides a few clever killings it was all very run of the mill.
    Disappointed.

    10 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    These Vampires Don't Sparkle

    If you love Vampires and horror, but are tired of the current Twilight trend, this book is for you. In fact, the word Vampire isn't even used until page 215. The Strain follows a team of epidemiologists trying to determine why everyone on a flight from Germany to the US winds up dead for no apparent reason. The mythology of this novel hearkens back to Stoker's Dracula, but adds its own creepy twist to make these bloodsuckers even scarier. Guillermo del Toro's film experience gives the novel a cinematic feel in the way the events are laid out, which adds to the suspense of the story. It's going to be a long wait for the sequel, which doesn't come out until next summer.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 4, 2009

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    I think my expectations were too high

    I finished this book in a few hours, couldn't put it down. I thought it was an interesting spin, however at times it felt too much like a zombie tale. I'm used to my vampires as rather ruthless and intelligent beings, not mindless foaming at the mouth animals/monsters. It was more of horror story which is not a genre I read often. I'm not sure if I would be committed enough to finish the trilogy when the rest of the books come out, however this would make an awesome movie!

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    A cinematic, fresh, and gripping Vampire yarn

    Have you seen Hellboy 2? I know, one could easily dismiss that movie as comic book drivel. But it's really quite entertaining, and beautifully stunning, due in large part to Del Toro's eye and skill with storytelling. I bring this up for two reason. The first, and obvious, is that Del Toro had a hand in both that movie and this novel. The second, and more evident if you've seen the movie, is the introduction to the book. The first chapter alone brought to mind a direct corellation to the opening sequence of the Hellboy sequel. In the Strain's case, it is a grandmother telling her grandson a story while he eats his supper. In Hellboy, it was a father telling his son a bedtime story. The way the two introductions set the stage for the story that follows is what ties the two works together. The Strain opens, as I said, with a grandmother telling her grandson a tale of the local "giant," a towering man whose height nearly crippled him, but allowed him to both look down at everyone, but never look down at anyone. As the story goes, the man accompanies his family on a hunting trip, hunting not game, but wolf. On said trip, the entire group goes missing, save the giant (Sardo, as he's called), who returns home and locks himself in his estate. As the years go by, children start going missing in the night. The only sign of anything amiss is the "pick-pick-pick" noise of a cane hitting the ground as the families sleep in their homes. Sardo, essentially, becomes a boogeyman, allowing elders like the boys grandmother to use his strange case as a bargaining chip against rebellious children. Eat your food/do your chores/obey your elders or Sardo will get you. Flash forward to present day, and a plane lands at JFK. After touchdown, all of it's electronics shut off, and there is no sign of movement, distress...anything from the plane. The CDC is called in, only to find that all the passengers on the plane are dead, save four survivors, with no clue alluding to the cause of death. No traces of gas or poisons. No wounds. No nothing. They all died suddenly and without any recognition of what was happening. Shortly, the investigation is in full swing. The corpses show no signs of decomposition, even though they've been dead for nearly 24 hours. The survivors are quaranteened, though no one remembers anything about landing. No clues, no leads, no nothing. Then, while rooting through the cargo, a container is found. A large, 8 foot long container, with strange symbols on it. When opened, it is found to be filled with dirt. After removing the cargo and getting an inventory, the carton literally vanishes. Reviewing the security tapes, the box is there, and then isnt. Closer inspection shows an impossibly fast shadow darting away from where the crate was sitting. Again, no clues, but an impossible situation. From there, the story really begins to shift into high gear. With a perspective shifting narrative, we learn the whole story. There's the CDC workers. The boy who heard the story of Sardo in the beginning, now an old pawn shop owner. There is the mystery investor, who ordered the container to be shipped. But for what purpose? And is this Sardo? Or is something else happening here? Ultimately the story plays out. And the whole time, this cloud of anxiety and suspense looms over the reader. It's powerful, engrossing, and hard to put down. If I could write more, I would, but I've sadly reached t

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 18, 2009

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    2 1/2 stars.

    The Strain was very interesting at the beginning. I felt the story was a little predictable and boring toward the end. There was one part of the book I found to be abhorrent, when the man ate his dogs he loved! Horrible, disgusting, and I did not want to hear of such. I will not buy the next book in the series.

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2009

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    Strained my patience...

    Looking for a read comparable to World War Z, a realistic and enjoyable horror read, I was directed to this novel. The best thing I can say about it is that I bought it with my discount card.

    The plot is predictable, the characters are one dimensional. The overwhelming feeling I had was that it should have been a trashy horror film. Would probably have been more enjoyable.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2009

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    MAESTRO!!!!

    Ever since I knew of this book I was expecting something great. And the reality couldn´t be closer to my expectations. It actually exceeded them. Gillermo´s experienced storytelling together with Hogan´s give the reader a one of a lifetime experience. Well actually and fortunately we will have two more books so two more one of a life time experiences.
    The first thing I managed to think of after finishing the book and procesing all the information received in the last 10 days, of which I only slept 8 because of some noises in my bedroom caused by the vampire in my head, was to start it all over again and recomend it to everyone I know. Specially to the "Twilight" fans: "Dude, these are real vampires".
    There is no doubt that Guillermo del Toro is one of the great minds of his time, one of those that come only every 50 years or so. And there is much more to come. Of that I am sure.
    Gracias Maestro!

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    Wavers from storyline too often

    Leaves story and dwells on too many technical details. Appreciate descriptions but there is such thing as overkill...leads to boredom and a lot of skipping over. Had high hopes...disappointed.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2009

    Not very good!!

    Didn't really enjoy it that much. It was recommended by a friend but I just couldn't get into the story. I had to force myself to finish it.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2009

    To PdEW - Go back to twilight.

    To people like pdew, go back to reading twilight. This book does not join the bandwagon of vampire romantics and walking in day light. This goes back to the roots of them being evil creatures who crave human blood. PLAIN AND SIMPLE. Pdew is a moron and should not be allowed to review books, as they've been glamored by the twilight series. Twilight is a good tale, but its for teens. This here is a good adult vampire read with a great addictive storyline. MUST READ!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Cannot wait for second book

    I was waiting for this book since three months ago when I saw Guillermo del Toro's name on the book. I am not really a fan of vampire books because they are normally just the same old terrible story lines or they are cheesy like the Twilight series. This has a great story line and if you read this book with the lights and a candle like I did when the storm knocked out the electricity you will be FREAKED OUT!! Cannot wait for the second one in the series!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2012

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    High expectations = a letdown. The Strain starts on a high note

    High expectations = a letdown.

    The Strain starts on a high note with an airplane landing at JFK—only something goes horribly wrong. Mid-landing the plane ceases all movement. No lights, no noise, no nothing. After several failed attempts at raising the flight crew, the CDC is called to the scene under the leadership of Ephraim Goodweather. On boarding the doomed flight, he finds that all of the passengers, save four, have died under mysterious circumstances. Eph and his team investigate the cause of these deaths, fearing a viral outbreak could be to blame. The supernatural answers he finds cause him to question science, God and life as he knows it. Eph eventually teams up with a rag-tag band of misfits, including an old man who has previously encountered this strain, desperate to stop the ancient evil that's plaguing their city.

    Sounds promising, right? I thought so. I picked up this book with high hopes, expecting nothing but the best from my man, Guillermo del Toro. I mean, with a repertoire that consists of Pan’s Labyrinth, Hell Boy and Mimic, how could you possibly mess it up? So then why was it so hard for me to finish reading it? Why was I left feeling so completely malcontented? Let me break it down for you. When you’re a die-hard fan of someone’s work, there is a certain caliber of quality that you come to expect from them. I picked this book up for the simple fact that I wanted to be thoroughly creeped out. Del Toro is a master at the creep-factor. And don’t get me wrong; there were parts in this book that did just that. But that’s also the problem—the scary parts were too far and few between. The pacing was all wrong and in those down moments, I was completely bored. The beginning is so strong and then, all too quickly, it falls flat and it’s this way throughout the duration of the novel. What little action we’re left with is interspersed with really random tangents and it does nothing but detract from the actual story. I think the other big issue was the schizophrenic jumps in POV making it a challenge to follow. We’re given the story from a multitude of perspectives yet I found it hard to really connect or care about any one of them. It’s difficult to discern who’s a main character and who’s playing a supporting role because one is particularly memorable.

    Bad as it was, I must, however, give Hogan and del Toro their due credit. When they get it right, they really nail it. There were parts where I was gripping the armrests of my seat, anxiously waiting to find out what happens next. There were also parts where the suspense builds just enough tension to keep you hooked and wanting for more. The opening and closing chapters do this particularly well. I also really enjoyed their updated take on the vampire myth. These aren’t your usual sensationalized, overly-sexed vamps. They are ruthless, ugly and monstrous; not something we see very much of in today's entertainment. And what I really appreciated was the sci-fi spin woven through the book, making vampirism a plague of sorts. The lines between science and the supernatural are blurred in a way that feels very much like something out of a Michael Crichton novel, and that pleases the super geek in me. I know it sounds like I hated this novel, but really, I think I was just really let down. That’s what happens when your expectations are too high. Hogan and del Toro have some pretty fresh ideas, only they fail in their execution.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2012

    Admit. Read b/c it's Guillermo Del Toro and I love Pan's Labyrin

    Admit. Read b/c it's Guillermo Del Toro and I love Pan's Labyrinth and the Devils Spine. An interesting take on vampires. Makes them less romantic and human and more clinical. The vampire persona makes more sense in this book than in most others. Book was entertaining and spooky but hardly a masterpiece.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2012

    Beware

    Not a bad story, but beware if you plan to read the second and third book. They are way bad.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2011

    I'm Sorry Guillermo!

    As part of my standard traveling procedure, I picked this up on the way to San Francisco for business back in November. What a disappointment. I still haven't been able to finish the book or even make it halfway through. The strain on my patience finally forced me to shelve it and not look back. Almost every minute of this was tedious.

    Cronin's, "the Passage," seems to more successfully and eloquently conquer the subject matter that, "the Strain," attempted to.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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