The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The Strain is another addition to the catastrophic pandemic-themed thriller genre, this one from the slightly creepy mind of film  director Guillermo Del Toro.  The book starts with a plane that lands and then sits on the tarmac for several minutes, completely shut down.  As it turns out, all but four people on the plane are dead of a new and unstoppable virus. These four survivors begin the spread of the deadly disease. The virus turns those infected into vampires, but there is a twist to these vampires in that they are somewhat like scorpions.  You’ll have to read the book to get a clear description of the specifics of this breed of vampire.

The book follows the formula of this genre, with a hero doctor, his ex-wife and son, and his partner/love interest.  There is a also a sage that has encountered these creatures before, and imparts his knowledge to the doctor.  The three embark on a journey to destroy the master vampire, who controls all the other vampires via a hive mind. The master vampire is aided by a human who is hoping to become immortal. Of course, the government and the medical establishment refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation, which allows things to quickly spiral out of control.

There are several main characters, and the book is told from their separate perspectives.  This allows a more multi-dimensional development of the plot and a clearer sense of what is happening to the world in the wake of the re-emergence of this disease.  Each character plays a key part in the plot, and no one part is small.  These characters range from the good doctor to a gang-banger just out of juvenile hall.

This nonstop thriller is somewhat formulaic, but I really didn’t care.  From the first page to the last, I couldn’t put it down.  I finished this book during a seven hour drive while I was on vacation this past week.  I’ve already purchased the second book in the trilogy, and I have the final book on preorder.

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