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3.8 out of 5 stars28
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on September 28, 2010
I think one very important thing to know it that this it the first book in a trilogy. Many of the negative reviews are from people who don't seem to know this clearly pre established fact. I also don't like when people complain that Vampire books are to unrealistic or cliche. It is a story folks. You are supposed to lose yourself for a few minutes or hours in the landscape of the story. I loved the book. I thought it was awesome and have been waiting all year for the next book to keep it going! If you like vampire/armaggedon/outbreak type stuff you will enjoy it.
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on July 22, 2009
This book is a great mix of horror and action and does its job of making you feeling creeped out and keeping you interested in the plot so you don't put it down and continue reading page after page until you're either sleepy, or you're finished the entire story.

Action you ask? plenty of it! I like how this book just captures your attention immediately and best yet there are hardly any parts where the action stops. What I like about this book is, you get the sense of chaos about to errupt and you actually see it in development until things just hit the fan (so to speak) and by then it's too late to do anything.

There's plenty of unanswered questions and the ending leaves you with wanting a lot more. Unfortunately the second part of this trilogy is not to be released until 2010 (I'm not sure exactly when, they just gave out the year of its' future release on the backflap of the book). So obviously, I will probably have to reread this book again when the second one comes out. It's worth a second read though I think.

I'd have to say, this book does have certain similarities to Bram Stoker's Dracula (there I gave you a hint on what this book entails) (But it's not what you think!). You do have a Jonathan Harker, a Van Helsing type character, and even a Mina (not really though, sort of) which I found rather interesting and I wonder if the authors did that on purpose or it was just a creative fluke. The characters in the novels are all right and they are developing I think considering this is the first novel of a trilogy, perhaps you will see them develop more with the other two books. (I like Setrakian the most in my opinion).

I definitely do not recommend this book if you don't like blood and gore. There's a lot of it and it's very graphic. But if you don't mind, and if you like a good scare, this book does a great job of keeping you engrossed and making your skin crawl (in a good way).
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Everybody now knows of Guillermo del Toro, the genius filmmaker of things dark, grotesque and fantastical.

So it's no surprise that his first foray into fiction, "The Strain," is a masterpiece of horrific lyricism and ghastly atmosphere. Del Toro's talents mesh seamlessly with those of thriller/mystery author Chuck Hogan, slowly building up a suspenseful story of vampiric infection that threatens to engulf the entire human race. Half gut-clenching horror, half police procedural.

When Flight 753 lands at JFK, the entire plane goes dead -- and all but four passengers are found pale, bloodless and peacefully dead. And a giant cabinet is missing from the hold.

While a special disease unit tries to figure out the cause of death, Dr. Eph Goodwater starts investigating the mysterious disappearance of a cabinet from the hold. And strange physical changes begin occurring not only on the four survivors, but on the undecayed corpses in the morgue -- white blood, tracheal growths, enhanced senses, and a growing thirst for blood.

While ordinary people begin transforming into stinger-tongued horrors, Eph and his assistant Nora find Abraham Setrakian, an elderly pawnbroker who has fought the vampires since World War II. Fortunately he knows their weaknesses... and the ghastly Master who has broken an ancient truce. In just a few days, New York City is swarming with undead horrors, and

In some ways, "The Strain" initially seems like a 21st century version of "Dracula": a plane full of the dead, a coffin full of soil, and a little old man who knows way too much about vampires. But this book doesn't have a shred of Victorian romanticism or ornateness -- it's an intricate twist of New York City, scientific analysis, and grotesque horrors from darkened corners of the Old World.

And Del Toro and Hogan's writing styles complement each other beautifully. On one hand, Hogan builds up spooky suspense to hang over the plot, and manages to make the pathology and procedurals interesting. And del Toro embroiders it with moments of lyrical beauty (the occultation that stares "down at the earth with glowing, gossamer-white hair"), but he also splashes it with loads of pure horror (the heart in a jar that sends out suckers to snag blood).

And the vampires del Toro creates are the most horrific I've seen in a long time -- trust me, these are not sexy, romantic angsty immortals. They're corpses possessed by a ghastly virus that reshapes the body into a cancerous husk filled with parasitic worms. Also a stinger-tipped tentacle-tongue in yawning jaws. And while del Toro freaks us out enough with the biological changes, he also infuses the vampires with a genuine sense of evil. It's more than just a disease.

There's a pretty wide-ranging cast of characters here -- billionaires, housekeepers, doctors, street thugs, lawyers, and even a shock-rock-star in the Marilyn Manson vein. Eph is a likable protagonist -- a kindly genius with family issues and a rocky custody battle. Abraham serves as the Van Helsing of this story, and the authors use flashback chapters to explore how his battle started -- in a concentration camp.

As for the villain, the Master is a truly spinechilling one, all the more so because he uses the corrupted body of a saintly young man, and now dwells in one of the most horrific spots in New York City.

"The Strain: Book One of The Strain Trilogy" brings vampires back into the horror fold, and blends the talents of both Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro. Gripping, chilling... and not over.
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Everybody now knows of Guillermo del Toro, the genius filmmaker of things dark, grotesque and fantastical.

So it's no surprise that his first foray into fiction, "The Strain," is a masterpiece of horrific lyricism and ghastly atmosphere. Del Toro's talents mesh seamlessly with those of thriller/mystery author Chuck Hogan, slowly building up a suspenseful story of vampiric infection that threatens to engulf the entire human race. Half gut-clenching horror, half police procedural.

When Flight 753 lands at JFK, the entire plane goes dead -- and all but four passengers are found pale, bloodless and peacefully dead. And a giant cabinet is missing from the hold.

While a special disease unit tries to figure out the cause of death, Dr. Eph Goodwater starts investigating the mysterious disappearance of a cabinet from the hold. And strange physical changes begin occurring not only on the four survivors, but on the undecayed corpses in the morgue -- white blood, tracheal growths, enhanced senses, and a growing thirst for blood.

While ordinary people begin transforming into stinger-tongued horrors, Eph and his assistant Nora find Abraham Setrakian, an elderly pawnbroker who has fought the vampires since World War II. Fortunately he knows their weaknesses... and the ghastly Master who has broken an ancient truce. In just a few days, New York City is swarming with undead horrors, and

In some ways, "The Strain" initially seems like a 21st century version of "Dracula": a plane full of the dead, a coffin full of soil, and a little old man who knows way too much about vampires. But this book doesn't have a shred of Victorian romanticism or ornateness -- it's an intricate twist of New York City, scientific analysis, and grotesque horrors from darkened corners of the Old World.

And Del Toro and Hogan's writing styles complement each other beautifully. On one hand, Hogan builds up spooky suspense to hang over the plot, and manages to make the pathology and procedurals interesting. And del Toro embroiders it with moments of lyrical beauty (the occultation that stares "down at the earth with glowing, gossamer-white hair"), but he also splashes it with loads of pure horror (the heart in a jar that sends out suckers to snag blood).

And the vampires del Toro creates are the most horrific I've seen in a long time -- trust me, these are not sexy, romantic angsty immortals. They're corpses possessed by a ghastly virus that reshapes the body into a cancerous husk filled with parasitic worms. Also a stinger-tipped tentacle-tongue in yawning jaws. And while del Toro freaks us out enough with the biological changes, he also infuses the vampires with a genuine sense of evil. It's more than just a disease.

There's a pretty wide-ranging cast of characters here -- billionaires, housekeepers, doctors, street thugs, lawyers, and even a shock-rock-star in the Marilyn Manson vein. Eph is a likable protagonist -- a kindly genius with family issues and a rocky custody battle. Abraham serves as the Van Helsing of this story, and the authors use flashback chapters to explore how his battle started -- in a concentration camp.

As for the villain, the Master is a truly spinechilling one, all the more so because he uses the corrupted body of a saintly young man, and now dwells in one of the most horrific spots in New York City.

"The Strain: Book One of The Strain Trilogy" brings vampires back into the horror fold, and blends the talents of both Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro. Gripping, chilling... and not over.
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on August 3, 2014
No sparkly, sympathic creatures here! del Toro always has a fresh perspective on horror and the appcalyptic world he has fashioned here is no exception. The human characters are well moulded and the non human ones are creepier than anything I've seen in a long, long time.
There are no wasted words on these pages, the story is taut and fast paced- I can't wait to finish the series.
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on June 30, 2013
I read aloud to my husband and him and I were so tranced by this trilogy... We never read anything so "life like" in our lives!!! Thee best series I've ever read. Be prepared to be scared!
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on December 6, 2015
Starting with the legend of Jusef Sardu, the Polish nobleman who suffered from gigantism and met with some mysterious fate in Romania, this first installment in The Strain Trilogy tells the story of the horror that crosses continents in its terrifying mission to rule the world.

From the moment the dead airplane arrives at JFK International Airport right after an occultation, and all but 4 passengers are found inexplicably dead, the tension in the creepy atmosphere grips you and never lets go. Truly there are moments when the very air stops, yet the darkness keeps moving.

Led by Dr. Ephraim "Eph" Goodweather, a Director at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and with the discovery of a mysterious box in cargo, the theory of a deadly virus is considered. And as the Strigoi slowly takes over, we see the beginnings of the slow eradication of humankind, as handfuls and then large groups of people fall victim to a yet unheard of "disease".

As far as characters are concerned, of course the hero of this tale is Holocaust survivor Abraham Setrakian. Working at a nondescript pawnshop, we are slowly introduced to his life, his history and his ultimate mission. It is through him that we learn about the 7 Ancients, and the one rebel among them - the Master. And it is his decades of knowledge that puts together a plan that has any hopes of victory, and a group that has any hope of carrying his crusade through to its end.

Greatest in this group is exterminator Vasily Fet. Called in to inspect a rat attack in an upscale home, it is Fet who carries out his own inspection, and it is Fet who tracks down Eph and proves to be a fantastic asset as he transforms his knowledge of vermin living in the dark to this fight against the vampires.

Surprisingly, even though the author clearly positions Eph as the protagonist - we do follow him around right from the beginning - he was really not a very impressive person. An ordinary human at best, and a cliched divorcé at worst, his story was too insipid for him to be the hero of a vampire novel.

The sinister tone that was set up in that tiny kitchen where a grandmother told her grandson the story of the monster that goes pic.. pic.. pic... never lets up. Six foot stingers that zap out of the mouth and drain human blood while white parasitic worms take over the corpse and turn it into a vampire that will continue the cycle... Harking back to the concept of the vampire as created by Bram Stoker, this is true terror.
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on February 19, 2011
Guillermo Del Toro is best known as the director of dark and imaginative films, including Pan's Labyrinth, The Devil's Backbone and both Hellboy movies. Chuck Hogan is primarily known for his novel The Prince of Thieves, recently made into an excellent movie by Ben Affleck, The Town. Here the two team up to produce a novel more in keeping with Del Toro's claim to fame than Hogan's. The Strain is a vampire story, but one that mixes Michael Crichton-like scientific investigation with the more traditional tropes of vampire-lore originally birthed by Bram Stoker. The combination offers the reader a fast-paced, modern take on vampires that is miles from the brooding and sensual blood-suckers of the Twilight books, and reminiscent of Del Toro's take on the monsters in his underrated Blade 2.

In The Strain, vampires are treated purely as monsters, without the romanticism originally revived by Anne Rice and more recently popularized by Stephanie Meyer. Del Toro's creatures suck blood via a prehensile proboscis protruding from under the tongue. Turned vampires, in fact, behave more like zombies than effete sophisticates. As the title intimates, here, vampirism is a disease, not a gift of immortality and the ability to attract teenage girls.

Though reasonably well-written, The Strain does suffer from ham-fisted attempts at character development which mostly fall flat, and the use of surprisingly bad metaphors and similes. I don't know who, Del Toro or Hogan, did the bulk of the writing, especially considering English is Del Toro's second language. But The Strain contains little of the depth evident in Hogan's work (or even in The Town). The Strain is a novel that should be read for plot, action and suspense. Those in search of multi-dimensional characterization and nuanced dialogue in a vampire tale should look elsewhere (Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian comes immediately to mind).

Overall, it is a fine, fun read and I do look forward to the sequel, titled The Fall. But keep expectations low, especially where writing style is concerned. Fans of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child should enjoy The Strain, though they will be in no danger of abandoning Agent Pendergast and his creators.
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on January 28, 2011
I wanted to like this book because I had great expectations upon realizing who the authors were and how talented they were...having seen both The Town and Pan's Labyrinth. I expected a fresh approach to the "vampire" novel or at least one that would captivate me. Unfortunately, I was so disappointed in almost everything about this book that I only skimmed the last 50 pages. I was bored with the characters (I didn't care whether they lived or died) and I was dissatisfied with the actual writing. For example....one of their metaphors was something to do with being "straight up" like "Paula Abdul". I was reading (at the same time) a horror novel by another writer that was far superior, both in writing style and in plot and character development. Needless to say, I DID finish that one. I realize that this novel The Strain is the first in a series of three.....I have no intentions of reading the other two.
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on June 30, 2013
I tried to read it the first time on an airplane; bad idea. This novel is so fast paced and doesn't give any concessions. This is a novel to be awed, scared and always, always wanting more. If you are tired of teenage vampires with a broken soul this is thenovel for you.
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