The Strain

By Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

William Morrow • 401 pages

The decision to begin reading the first book in a three-novel series is not one to be taken lightly, especially when the next two chapters have yet to hit store shelves. The potential problems of embarking such an endeavour are many, the least of which concerns an investment from the reader — as it concerns both money and time.

Judging by the opening installment in The Strain Trilogy, a horror-thriller collab between celebrated Mexican director Guillermo del Toro and award-winning crime writer Chuck Hogan, only a reader who is largely unfamiliar with Richard Matheson’s classic vampire novella, I Am Legend, and its endless big-screen incarnations (The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, and I Am Legend), as well as the recent rash of zombie-related entertainments, from 28 Days Later, World War Z, and the reimagined Dawn of the Dead, will find anything startling new here. The basic plot is the same; monsters are on the loose (in this case bloodsuckers), and very rapidly a stake is driven through the heart of the world as we know it.

That said, The Strain is an incredibly fast read, with a surprisingly effective procedural drama approach (think CSI: Transylvania) and an ample dose of creepiness.