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'The Strain' by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan - Book Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating
User Rating 5 Star Rating (1 Review)


'The Strain' by  Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

'The Strain'


The Bottom Line

With Twilight, the Sookie Stackhouse novels, and a number of other recent dabblings into the world of the undead, it's a wonder that there is the need for another vampire saga. But what if this novel has the potential to be the most fresh and frightening? While Twilight veers the romantic route and the Sookie Stackhouse novels take on vampires as political and social allegory, Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro have concocted something ancient, scientific and terrifying to add to the lexicon. The Strain is the first of a new trilogy for readers to sink their teeth into; and it promises to give a ferocious bite back.


  • An old-fashioned approach to storytelling with a new history and future for vampirism.
  • Del Toro's original idea and Hogan's sharp and rich writing skills make this a compelling read.
  • It has the characterization and story arc to stand with any novel beyond the horror genre.


  • This one will keep you up late at night to keep the nightmares at bay.
  • Recommended for mature audiences only.


  • 'The Strain' by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan is a dark and enticing new beginning for vampires.
  • Publisher: William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins, June 2009
  • 401 pages

Guide Review - 'The Strain' by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan - Book Review

The horror genre just got injected with a shot of adrenaline. Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan have pumped a new, twisted biological strain into the vampire legend. What began with the masterful I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, these deft storytellers have blossomed into something entirely devastating, apocalyptic, and global.

Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, the lead in the Canary Project, the most skilled response team to biological threats, has been called in to investigate a plane that has landed at JFK where everyone inside is dead. Meanwhile, a local antiques dealer and Holocaust survivor, Abraham Setrakian, sees the story on the news and has a feeling that an old master is at play, one that he first encountered in a concentration camp. The ancient underworld of something and someone completely unholy is about to be unleashed on New York City.

The mounting tension created here is the best I've read in years. Perhaps not since Scott Smith's A Simple Plan has a novel been so good at drawing out terror like a professional with a syringe. The Strain would be frightening enough with two-dimensional characters; the fact that this novel's character interrelations are as strong as its scares makes it all the more fascinating.

The greatest horror lies in the world Del Toro and Hogan have unleashed: one without a potential savior. The hero, Setrakian, an old man with crippled hands gives these thoughts at the possibility of defeating such a foe: "...in the absence of God he had found Man. Man killing man, man helping man, both of them anonymous: the scourge and the blessing." The Strain too is a scourge and a blessing. So good you won't want to put it down; so bad because this is only part 1 of 3 and the horrific vision at the end of the first tale is what will stick like dried blood until the next part in the story arrives.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
The Strain, Member Julio_NC

I'm a huge fan of Del Toro's, and this is him at his best. If your looking for a finally fresh look at vampires, this is it. If your looking for a horror story to keep you awake at night, this could be it. It definitely has its moments, but just nothing that is absolutely terrifying. Yet... I look forward to the next installment in the series. It takes a lot for me to give out a 5, and this book earned it.

2 out of 2 people found this helpful.

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