Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Review: 'The Fall'

There are a vast number of online readers out there who seek out reviews of movies, TV shows, and books that simultaneously expect those reviews to include a SPOILER ALERT!! when divulging into more specific realms of the plot.  I plan to include such a warning towards the end of this review.  Nevertheless, anyone who has read The Strain probably knows what the word "Fall" is alluding to in this particular novel. In the second book of The Strain Trilogy--the modern day vampire epic from film auteur Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (author of Prince of Thieves)--the human race finds itself in no position to battle the unprecedented plague that threatens the extinction of their species.  The time for any "Rise," if that time ever comes, will have to wait until the third and final chapter of this series that will be titled The Night Eternal

The plague in The Fall is vampirism.  The creatures that are referred to as vampires in this series, the strigoi, are very different from the vampires that have been populating popular culture in the past few years.  They do not have sex, they do not dare step into the light, and none of them have anything close to resembling a human soul.  They are more Zombie-like in nature.  The big difference is, is that there is a hierarchical structure among the vampires.  Behind all the struggles that are protagonist are encountering lies a dispute between the oldest of them, the Ancients.

The mythology of the Ancients, while a driving force in the plot, is not at the center of the story.  Instead we continue to follow an unusual resistance of humans made up of the Eph, Nora, Zach (Z), Abraham Setrakian, Fet, and Gus.  Setrakian, or the professor, is one of the few humans who is aware of the history of strigoi, along with billionaire Eldrich Palmer.  He is a holocaust survivor who has witnessed the horror of both humanity and the supernatural throughout his years.  Ephraim (Eph) Goodweather and Nora Martinez are doctors who used to work for the Center for Disease Control.  Zach, Eph's son, has just lost his mother to the vampire virus and now the evil that possesses her is doing all it can to turn Zach (or her Dear One).  Fet is New York exterminator whose knowledge of rodents and the city's underground makes his an extremely useful ally.  And finally there is Gus, who currently finds himself as part of another branch of the resistance.

Guillermo del Toro has said that if there was ever an adaptation of the The Strain, he would like to see it be made into a miniseries.  I think that is the perfect medium as well.  The action in movies often has to be hurried up compared to books.  But part of what makes this series different is reading about the metamorphosis that are characters, the infected humans, and society as a whole is going through.

Honestly though, right now I am really enjoying the hell out of this ride and can't wait for the very thing that Ephraim Goodweather and the other characters are dreading . . . The Night Eternal.


I am pretty sure there is a mistake in the beginning of copy of the book that I read.  If I remember correctly, the first book begins in late September.  And that is supported by Eph's journal entry and the beginning of this book when he states that is has taken sixty days for human society to fall (entry dated Friday, November 26, 2010).  Yet, the beginning of the present story begins Thurday, November 4th (which is said to be one week since the 777 landed at JFK).  I either misunderstood something or this is an error on the printer's or authors' part(s).

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