I’m a HUGE Guillermo Del Toro fan. He has, without a doubt, one of the most amazing visual minds of anyone working in media today. It’s no wonder that everyone wants to work with Del Toro, from Disney to video game companies to novelist Chuck Hogan. Del Toro has a lot of ideas when it comes to vampires, and he takes some of his concepts from Blade II, along with plenty of new ideas, and brings them to his collaboration with Chuck Hogan, The Strain Trilogy.
I wasn’t the hugest fan of the original novel in the trilogy, The Strain. (check out my review) I felt like it was bit too much build up without enough resolution. That being said, I was still curious enough to see where the story was going to pick up The Fall, the second novel in the trilogy.
In The Fall, the vampiric strain has debilitated New York City, and the heroes of the original are trying to figure out their next steps, not realizing that the monsters behind the vampiric outbreak are already working on their endgame.
The vampiric virus unleashed in The Strain has taken over New York City. It is spreading across the country and soon, the world. Amid the chaos, Eph Goodweather—head of the Center for Disease Control’s team—leads a small band out to stop these bloodthirsty monsters. But it may be too late. Ignited by the Master’s horrific plan, a war erupts between Old and New World vampires, each vying for total control. Caught between these warring forces, humans—powerless and vulnerable—are no longer the consumers, but the consumed. Though Eph understands the vampiric plague better than anyone, even he cannot protect those he loves from the invading evil. His ex-wife, Kelly, has been turned by the Master, and now she stalks the city, in the darkness, looking for her chance to reclaim Zack, Eph’s young son. With the future of the world in the balance, Eph and his courageous team, guided by the brilliant former professor and Holocaust survivor Abraham Setrakian and exterminator Vasiliy Fet, must combat a terror whose ultimate plan is more terrible than anyone first imagined—a fate worse than annihilation.
I will admit that I enjoyed The Fall a heck of a lot more than The Strain, but it takes a long time to get going. In fact, it was a bit of an exercise in frustration for me because, out of 300 pages, the first 200 pages, really, felt like more build up for me. And after The Strain felt like a couple hundred pages of build up already, I was wondering just when the hell something was going to happen. You’ll find that, for the most part, the first two thirds of the book involve characters waiting for something to happen, and reacting more than being proactive. Not just waiting for things to happen, but also unsure of what to do. While the book ends in a pretty fantastic spot, I can’t help but feel that it really could have been chopped by about 50 pages during the slow stuff.
Adding to the frustration is that SO MUCH happens in the last 100 pages. I’m not sure which writer contributes what to the overall product, but I feel like Hogan brings in the long exposition and descriptions on scenes where nothing is happening – the history of Sotheby’s, or in the first book the many, many pages describing eclipses. But then, in the same book, you get passages like “then the building exploded behind them.” While the action moves quickly, it’s written in such an vague manner that you miss so many details, and have a hard time following the flow.
I know it sounds like I hated the book, but the thing is…I LIKED the ideas. I liked what was happening, and the characters and all the action – I just wish that the less important scenes were excised and the book was paced more appropriately. It’s literally nothing nothing nothing…BAM! action…over. If this were to be a movie, it would be a damn exciting one … in the last 45 minutes.
But I really couldn’t put the book down once it got there. I have a hard time recommending the book on account of that fact, though. The slow stuff isn’t bad…it’s just sluggish to get through. But you’re going to enjoy the end of this book if you like exciting horror action. Still…if you’re waiting for the movie…maybe you just should wait.