summer book review: the strain

While I'm enjoying the last few days of summer (I'll be back blogging after the Labor Day weekend!) I thought I'd put up this little book blurb my father, manager of the Hope-Geneva Bookstore, wrote for the Michigan Association of College Stores newsletter when they called to ask what he'd been reading. The Strain was a novel that Hanna read and passed along to me earlier in the summer; I recommended it to my father who read it and passed it to my mother, who emailed me last week to tell me about this vampire novel she was reading . . . such is the, er, viral nature of good reads in a family of bibliophiliacs.

Without further ado, here's Mark:

If you are looking for a summer read that will keep you turning pages (or refreshing screens) late into the night you could do worse than, The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The first of a promised trilogy of vampire novels (forget the Twilight series), this worthy addition to the genre reads like a cross between Stephen King and Michael Crichton. While Spanish film maker del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) is not known as a novelist his storytelling ability is clearly on display. The novel starts out with a routine jumbo jet landing at New York’s JFK. The plane suddenly rolls to a stop and the lights go out. All communication with the tower cease. An investigation of the mystery reveals that everyone on board is dead including the pilot and co-pilot. The creepy action ramps up from there.

In a radio interview earlier this year del Torro described his effort in the book as wanting to take the modern romance and “sexiness” out the vampire legend and return to the concept of pure evil inherent in the blood-sucking parasites. I think he does a good job of honoring our core understanding of the mythology while combining it with the threat of a modern viral epidemic. His characters are familiar types but engagingly articulated and the close of the novel leaves us waiting for the next installments.