#SpringHorror Review: The Strain by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan

This was nearly too gross for me.


The Strain by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan
Narrated by Ron Perlman
Audiobook Horror Fiction
Released May 2009, Unabridged
Amazon ♦ Goodreads
At New York’s JFK Airport, an arriving Boeing 777 taxiing along a runway suddenly stops dead. All the shades have been drawn, all communication channels have mysteriously gone quiet. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of a CDC rapid-response team investigating biological threats, boards the darkened plane—–and what he finds makes his blood run cold.

A terrifying contagion has come to the unsuspecting city, an unstoppable plague that will spread like all-consuming wildfire—–lethal, merciless, hungry . . . vampiric. And in a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, an aged Holocaust survivor knows that the war he has been dreading his entire life is finally here.

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


My Thoughts:

I have not seen the show created from this material. I DVR’d it but the thing got full and it was deleted. That may have been for the best . . .

The Strain begins when a passenger plane lands with its windows all darkened and none of its 199 passengers getting off the plane. Is it a terrorist attack or something even more insidious?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s the second one and this part of the book is so very creepy!

There was something on that plane that is now wreaking havoc on the family members of the extremely unlucky passengers aboard the plane – and on society at large.

This story is basically pandemic via vampiric strain and focuses a lot of time on the rush for experts to discover exactly what the hell is going on and how to stop it before everyone dies a horrid death or worse.

The audiobook is narrated by Ron Perlman who gives the material a lethal edge and he doesn’t even attempt to feign a female voice (thank all that is good and kind in this world). He is deadly serious as well he should be for a story like this! It’s tense and gory and action packed.

But you need to know something. Terrible things happen to people, to children, and to dogs (gawd, the dogs!) in this book so guard yourself before you step in. Some may say this is a spoiler but I say you MUST know if you have any feelings at all. I wish I had. I might’ve skipped it had I known about one particular scene. That scene had me in complete dread mode guessing what was going to happen and wishing I could unhear it and pretend it never happened after it did. My heart let me know that it hasn’t completely shriveled up yet.

I love pandemic and plague stories even though they give me endless nightmares because I know it’s going to happen to us one of these days and that we’ll probably deserve it (well, most of us anyway). But I only sometimes enjoy thrillers and vampire stories. This one combines the two and I mostly enjoyed it before it got too gross and boring because the vampires are evil, hungry and not at all sexy. Nope, there is no sexy to be had here (more on that in a minute). My biggest complaint about this book was the fact that it was mainly a thriller with heavy handed violence and the characters weren’t given enough space for me to get to know them (especially the women) because they were so busy doing important things to stop this blight on humanity. I really didn’t end up giving any craps about any of them because the whole thing lacked an emotional connection for me. I know not everyone necessarily needs that but I do with very few exceptions. I think reading Salem’s Lot as a kid may have spoiled most vampire novels for me.

As I said, this book is deadly serious but there is a moment of dialogue that I must share because I am still laughing about it.

“I am a drinker of men.”

Heh, I’ve never quite heard it put this way before and I think I like it! I wish there had been more unintentionally funny bits to break up the slaying.

Towards the middle it gets rather gross and I rarely say that. There’s a proboscis thing, there’s white goo/blood and, grossest of all, there’s peeing/pooping vampires. And they do it as they feed! I told you there is no sexy here and I wasn’t kidding! There is just entirely too much yuck to behold. Even my cast iron stomach was screaming for it to stop. Maybe it’s because I listened on audio and I find audio such an intimate experience that it became way too much? Or perhaps I’m getting whimpy? I don’t know what my problem was but I do know I probably won’t be reading the next two in the series because the last bits bored me to tears. It’s all chasing down vampires and slicing off their noggins and looking at vampire pee/poo and lots of telling and not any showing. I tuned out during the final acts and I’m too chicken to rewind. I was also totally fatigued by the story at this point. I probably won’t be moving on to the two sequels even though my library has them unless someone decides to be super evil and makes me change my mind! Please don’t.

I’m going to give it a three because the first half or so was incredibly chilling. I just wish it had all gone another, perhaps less grosser, way in the latter half.

Book #6 for the Spring into Horror Readathon

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Comments

  1. The gore didn't bother me at all but the story starting getting so big that I didn't care about anyone. I stopped at the first book. I watched one or maybe 2 seasons of the show but quit that too. But I cheated and watched the series finale just to see how it ended lol

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. I've been going back and forth about watching the show but I'm thinking no. Is the show as gross with the poo/pee stuff as the book? That's my sticking point, lol.

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  2. I have this but thanks for the dog warning. Don't know that I'll be picking it up. I will say I've watched the entire series and it was a fave or my husband and mine. I don't recall any real dog issues in the TV show. Now it's been a while but from your description, something so horrific sounding related to dogs would probably stick in my head. I don't recall a lot of poo/pee stuff in the show, just a lot of white vampire worms. I think you might like it. Hmmm...I am a drinker of men. I love it!

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    1. I think it would've stuck with you. One of the "survivors" had two st. bernards and that's all I'm saying :( Maybe they cut the pee/poo. Smart move!

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    2. No definitely no St. Bernards in the TV show. Yea, those scenes sound like they may have sunk the show!

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    3. Ahhh, maybe I can watch the show, after all!

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  3. I didn't know there was a book but I watched the show and loved it.

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    1. I think there's 3 books now. I am so on the fence with watching the show now. What to do, what to do?!

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  4. I have a feeling I'm getting whimpy as I get older. I used to have an iron clad stomach, but not so much anymore. Hubby and I bought this on Audible but I swear I read it. I read it a while back, before the show was out, but you think if I had listened that I would remember Ron Perlman. I love him! Either way, you're review is making me want to revisit this one, and maybe I can bypass the gross parts. And the parts where they hurt puppies. Don't mess with my puppies!!!

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    1. Yes, fast forward through the puppies for sure! The poo/pee stuff is scattered all over the place though so you'll just have to mentally block it out. Have fun with it :)

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  5. This might be a little too much for me. (Especially when they start hurting dogs!)

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  6. Oh man. Did you have a chance to watch the FX series?! I actually enjoyed this one quite a bit. I read it in preparation for the series premiere a couple of years ago now but I've not have the chance to read the rest of the books in the series.

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    1. I haven't seen the series. I'm still on the fence about it.

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  7. I really want to see the series but just not finding the time at the moment!

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    1. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it if you can squeeze it into the schedule.

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  8. Hmmm....on one hand this sounds kind of good but on the other hand it might be too much. Not a fan of any kind of violence towards animals.

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    1. It's a small part of the book but it's hard to read and as you can see, it hasn't left my brain :(

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  9. I feel like I've read so many books recently that had a lot of animal death. Every time it's a kick to the feels.

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  10. oh Guillermo del Toro. We have a complicated relationship! :) I either ADORE his work or it leaves me like HUH??? WTH??? The strain was a big W.T.H??? LOL

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    1. I think I'm the same! I really enjoyed The Shape of Water but not-so-much with this one.

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