Before I give my review of The Strain, you should know two of the things in horror that make me happy: 1) Guillermo Del Toro, and 2)Post-Apocalyptic settings. Sure there are lots of other things in horror that make me happy, but when you add this specific film-maker to my favourite horror sub-genre, I am going to get very, very excited.
Guillermo Del Toro (pictured to the right), for those of you who don't know, is the director of the Hellboy films, Pan's Labyrinth, Blade II (basically a remake of his own superior film Mimic), and one of my favourite ghost movies ever, The Devil's Backbone. His movies are bizarre, magical, and (to me at least) quite thought provoking.
Post Apocalyptic fiction is my personal favourite sub-section of horror; forget trying to escape serial killers, monsters, and ghosts, what would you do when the whole world gets f**ked up beyond repair? From the great ones (Swan Song, The Stand, Earth Abides) to the laughably cheesy ones (Night of the Comet), to the televised ones (Jericho, Jeremiah) this genre is my personal favourite and don't be surprised if I do a top ten list of both post-apocalyptic movies and books on it in the future.
Now, when I found out that these two great flavours of horror were going to be paired up in not one book, but a new horror trilogy I was ecstatic! To be honest though, even though I pride myself on keeping track of these types of books and movies, this one slipped under my radar, and I ended up noticing it at first in the book section of my local grocery store.
I read the book in just over two days and here (with as few spoilers as possible) is what I thought.
Brilliant. Simply brilliant.
If you like Horror, or Vampires, or Guillermo Del Toro, or action-packed reads, this book is definitely for you. Like a great disaster novel or film, it is structured in a way that you have an ensemble of main characters to invest in, and a race against time (even though you know they can't totally win - the book is the first part of a trilogy after all). The villains are great, every chapter ends with a mini-cliff hanger, and I finished the book desperately wanting the next one (May 2010).
I tend to judge books on two criteria, so let's check it out:
1) Would I read this book again? - yes, definitely yes.
2) Would I recommend this book to a friend? - yes, that's what I'm hoping to be doing with this review.
Looks like The Strain is a definite winner for me. But hey, let me know what you think.
I'll be doing a weekly review on great genre books I've found, alternating between classics and new stuff - feel free to send any suggestions my way!