Review: The Strain

TITLE: The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1)
AUTHOR: Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
PUBLICATION: 2009 by Harper Audio
FORMAT: Audiobook (read by Ron Perlman)


They have always been here. Vampires. In secret and in darkness. Waiting. Now their time has come.

In one week, Manhattan will be gone. In one month, the country.

In two months–the world.

A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing . . .

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city–a city that includes his wife and son–before it is too late.


I am a fan of vampires, but my heart truly resides with the terrifying monsters of our deepest nightmares. I loved reading the first two books in the trilogy last year and I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of the final volume. My significant other was interested in the first book when he heard it was available as an audiobook and so I have access to Ron Perlman’s performance whenever I choose now. I decided to listen to it in full, since I’ve only really sampled the first disc in the past. I wish to reread the trilogy’s installments already published in readiness for the last book to be released at the end of this month. Partially from the fear that I forget too much of a story over time due to the sheer volume of books that I read, and perhaps also the desire to hear Ron Perlman read to me because I positively adored him as Vincent in the Beauty and the Beast television series!

One of the first things that I as a reader noticed about this book was how readable it turned out to be. In fact, it often feels as though a movie is playing, which shouldn’t be too surprising considering that one of the authors is a film director. I sincerely hope that del Toro and Hogan were writing the screenplay for a future movie because I wouldn’t miss it for anything! There are so many different perspectives that we are given from various characters, several whom only deign to make a single appearance but sometimes it can leave you cheering one moment and sick the next. Like the scene where the wife finds her abusive husband whom she believed to be dead nesting in her attic. Anyone who is familiar with Bram Stoker’s Dracula will see how The Strain is a homage to the vampire classic. One of the things that I like about reading (or listening to in this case) a book again is noticing all the little details that might have been missed upon the first perusal. I know what’s going to happen so I can pay attention to elements of the writing. And yes, I did forget things even though it’s only been about a year since I last read the novel.

It’s quite interesting the approach that the authors take in treating vampirism as a virus. And what it does to the body is not sexy, it’s utterly disgusting and vile what was once human can become after the blood worms do their work. In my opinion the ancient vampires are one of the coolest aspects of these books, and it makes me anxious for the next book because I know that they have a little more page time. While a stinger under the tongue doesn’t appear to be a unique feature in vampire literature if another book on vampires I read is to be believed, it most certainly is a refreshing change from pointy fangs. To be turned is definitely not a fate that you want to experience in this universe. Hogan and del Toro have made vampires cool again… in an utterly terrifying way.

Setrakian is easily my favorite character in the book. One of the things that I really like about Perlman’s narration of this novel is the voice that he gives this character.

Ron Perlman is a good narrator, and I think he works well for this particular story. I wouldn’t go so far to say he’s my favorite reader, but sometimes it was easy to lose myself in his narration of the beginning of the vampire apocalypse. I thought the dramatic music was a nice touch because it could startle you when you least expected it. The only thing I would have changed about the presentation of this audiobook is the inclusion of an “end of disc X” announcement. I’m just picky that way, I guess.

I want all the teenyboppers who want vampires for boyfriends to read this and tell me how much they want to procreate with this vision of the undead.

I definitely recommend that you read this book. More people need to read this trilogy! Now!



3 thoughts on “Review: The Strain

  1. Ever since I read The Passage by Justin Cronin I’ve wondered about this series. I looked on Amazon just now, and found the first of the trilogy for the Kindle for 1.99 USD. Not to be passed up I think. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for an excellent review!

    • I have The Passage awaiting to be read on my shelf. And yes, you can’t pass up sweet deals like that, my friend! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

  2. I’m interested in this one, I love books about proper vampires and not sparkly romantic hero vampires. The Passage is good, but I wouldn’t really call it a vampire book. It’s more about how humans cope when society breaks down.

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