The Strain

The Strain - Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan I picked up The Strain after hearing that it was being made into a television series, and, as Guillermo del Toro's name was attached, thought it might be something I could really sink my teeth into (I'm SO lame, I know).

Well, it isn't terrible, but it wasn't really what I was expecting, either.

According to that fountain of potential misinformation Wikipedia, The Strain was originally part of a television series screenplay penned by del Toro, but was subsequently adapted into a trilogy of novels when it became evident that there was very little hope of the screenplay being picked up by a studio with the budget to do it justice. This sounds about right, because it reads like a screenplay that's been adapted into a novel.

Hogan's prose is functional rather than exceptional, and I often found myself thinking - especially during action scenes - that it actually felt more like someone describing what had happened in a TV show you might have missed, rather than an actual novel. The chapters are also divided into a vast number of scenes that jump from one place to the next (again, like a screenplay), with no real sense of how much time is elapsing in between - it got to a point where I had completely lost track of any sense of timescale in the story, and wouldn't have known if it was day or night (which is kind of an important factor in a vampire story, don't you think?) unless some kind of reference was slipped in somewhere to give me a clue.

Apparently, del Toro must have really loved those mutant reaper vampires from his movie Blade 2, because he's pretty much resurrected (I'm SO sorry) them for this, with a few (very minor) changes, along with a number of other ideas such as UV light bombs and a vampire-hunting squad made up of other vampires, to name just a couple.

Del Toro's trademark as a director is his dark and lavish visual style (which I happen to adore), as well as those over-the-top fight scenes, but you never really get much of a sense of any of that with this novel, leaving a fairly clich├ęd, slightly cheesy story (which, to be fair, is also a del Toro staple; but his imagery usually tends to make up for this) and writing that is, at times, clumsy to the point of awkwardness.

Hopefully, the TV show will be better.