Sunday, December 20, 2015

Rashmi bookmarks “The Night Eternal” (Book 3: The Strain Trilogy)

by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

This final book of The Strain trilogy is set in a world where the Master has successfully created a nuclear winter, and most humans - what little is left of them - live as slaves to the vampires.

While Fet and Gus continue to be the heroes of this story, this book also prominently features the fascinating life of Mr. Quinlan. Through interludes describing his fascinating history dating back to 40 AD, and narratives revealing his true purpose in life, it is now that we really get to know him. Eph - who I really wasn't that impressed by, even though he is clearly positioned as the main protagonist of this tale - does finally redeem himself in the final moments of this fight. Nora goes from somewhat useless to excessively annoying. And why Zach is the "chosen one" is never explained ... there is a weak 1-sentence attempt at an explanation, but that may have made it worse than just leaving it as an illogical plot point. Oh, and whatever happened to the Space Station that we very, very briefly visited some time back? Like the character of Phade, that was a good idea that went nowhere.

Generally speaking, while the first book was really good, and the second more of a placeholder, overall, I have mixed feelings about this final book. I liked the fast-paced action and the broad scope of the story that takes us to so many different areas where different people are seen to cope with this calamity in different ways. What I really did not like at all, was the concluding narrative where the authors walk us through the Bible and talk about God, and Sodom and Gomorrah, and what happened to Ozryel, and how Gabriel and Michael eventually return him to Heaven... The Strain had started on a scientific premise, basing vampirism on a hitherto undiscovered virus. How that became a story about god and the angels and heaven and hell, defies all explanation and good storytelling.

Still, overall, an interesting read - with some of the more interesting characters I have read about. For ultimately this is a story driven mainly by characters. The heroism of Abraham Setrakian, the villainy of Eldritch Palmer, the bravery of Augustin Elizalde, the loyalty of Vasiliy Fet, the unique story of Gabriel Bolivar, the fascinating saga of Mr. Quinlan ... it is their acts of bravery and their moments of cowardice, that ultimately creates this world of The Strain.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Rashmi bookmarks “The Fall” (Book 2: The Strain Trilogy)

by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

Things slow down considerably in this second novel in The Strain Trilogy. Where discovery of a new threat and its gradual takeover of the world is a natural foundation of storytelling, repetition of the same events and situations in a second book just makes it boring.

Regardless, the characters that had been established as the key players in this war against deadly vampires, continue to shine in this book. Setrakian's quest for the Occido Lumen, an ancient book that contains the secret for defeating the vampires and Fet, whose common sense, street smarts and bravery make him a perfect ally for any mission, were my two favourites in this book too. Gus, recruited as the vampire's "day hunter" forms a team comprising such memorable characters as Silver Angel. The luchador whose glory days are far behind him, has one of the more heroic and memorable moments in this tale. Even Eph appears to be set to take on a more active role in the coming days.

While the majority of this book was rather slow, the final scenes - including the ride in the Amtrak train and the confrontation between Setrakian and the Master in the nuclear power plant - were brilliant. Fast-paced and exciting, they changed events around quite a bit, and paved the way for an exciting final installment.