Review – The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

the strainHave you ever read a book that was in a genre you enjoy, generally well written and easy to read?  But, you just weren’t feeling it?  That’s the case with me and The Strain.

And it’s very disappointing because it has so many elements that should have made it work.  Vampires, viruses, the CDC, strange old men, swords and more.  Part of the problem is the pacing.  It starts strong with a Boeing 777 going dark at the airport.  It doesn’t make it to the gate and when officials investigate they find all the passengers and crew dead.  The CDC is brought in to determine if it’s a virus or some other agent that killed them.

Man, that sounds great right?  You bet!  Too bad that the story then becomes bursts of action followed by purple and overly descriptive prose.  For example: “Eldritch Palmer sat waiting on an un-cushioned chair on the rooftop patio, bathed in night.  The only direct light was that of an outdoor gas lamp burning in the corner.  The terrace was on the top of the lower of the two adjoining buildings. The floor was made of square clay tiles, aged and blanched by the elements.  One low step preceded a high brick wall at the northern end, with two door-size archways hung with ironwork. Fluted terra-cotta tiling topped the wall and the overhangs on each side. To the left, through wider decorative archways, were oversize doorways to the residence.  Behind Palmer, centered before the southern white cement wall, was a headless statue of a woman in swirling robes, her shoulders and arms darkly weathered.  Ivy slithered up the stone base.  Though a few taller buildings were visible both north and east, the patio was reasonably private, as concealed a rooftop as one might hope to find in lower Manhattan.”

Why in the world do we need all that detail?  Do I care that the floor tiles are square or that the wall was white cement?  Yes, a writer needs to paint a picture but this was just overdone.

Since there were two writers I did think several times that some of this “overwriting” was probably done by only one of them.  I wonder how that works?  If you get pages from your co-writer and they are filled with this, what do you say to them?  That’s gotta be a tough one.

Anyway, a good story full of great ideas but it loses points for execution.  3/5 stars.

2 thoughts on “Review – The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

  1. I enjoyed this book and the second (haven’t picked up the 3rd one yet) but I do agree that it went a little overboard with some of the descriptions. They could have edited a lot out.

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