Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Fall

A horrific virus has been unleashed in New York, creating savage vampires that hunt indiscriminately. Civilization has pretty much crumbled, leaving anarchy in the vampires' wake. There is only a small group of people that oppose these powerful creatures, including former CDC employee Ephraim Goodweather and his son, elderly Abraham Setrakian, Nora Martinez, and exterminator Vasiliy Fet. They are the only thing in between the strigoi and total human annihilation. The story continues just after the group failed to destroy the Master, the powerful vampire behind the epidemic. Setrakian hopes to obtain a book from the 17th century that could give him the key to destroying all the vampires, but every time this book has surfaced, disaster has followed, and it costs millions of dollars. To make things worse, Eldritch Palmer, a very rich and sickly man, is giving the Master his full support and Ephraim's ex-wife turned vampire is stalking the small group of heroes to turn her loved ones. Through all these obstacles, can Ephraim and his hodgepodge group save the human race?

Usually, the second book of a trilogy drags and falls flat, simply succeeding in setting up the characters for the grand finale. The Fall is not the typical second book. It is just as compelling as the first book, but very bleak. The vampires Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan created aren't your standard tall, dark, handsome, or sparkling types that have become popular in recent years. They are disgusting and their only interest in humans is for food and transmitting the virus so it will spread as far as possible. This view of vampires is refreshing since there are so few truly dangerous vampire stories out there. I like that the physiological changes from human to vampire are described in detail. It lends a sense of realism to a usually fantastical creature.

There are a few new things in this novel that I found particularly interesting and made the novel compelling. The first is the concept that human love is corrupted and changed in the conversion from human to vampire, leading the new vampire to infect their loved ones with the virus. It makes the epidemic all that more devastating that even love isn't safe from these brutal vampires. This theme recurs throughout the novel and proves to be toxic to the protagonists. Vampire children are introduced when children blinded by the eclipse are kidnapped and turned to be troops that don't rely on eyesight to fight the enemy. These creatures are incredibly disturbing and difficult for the humans to deal with since they still appear to be children. Another new addition is the small group of original ancient vampires that oppose the Master because they view vampirism as a great gift to be given with discretion to only the most deserving. They gather and fund a small army of gang members and other random people to join the fight against the Master. It makes sense that vampires wouldn't want to overtake humans because their food source would be extremely depleted and a situation like in the film Daybreakers may ensue. In that group of fighters is an interesting character named Angel, who is a retired wrestler. He goes from an old, washed up has-been to a fierce fighter again. He experiences a kind of rebirth. His interesting past and drive to fight despite his age made him my favorite new character.

The Strain Trilogy brings vampires from the romance genre they've settled in back to their true horror roots. The Fall is a worthy follow-up to The Strain. This series is addictive and I seriously can't wait for the final installment, Eternal Night, to come out.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins


M.A.D. said...

Great review, Titania! I read the Strain and loved it, now am frothing to get my hands on The Fall! :D

yllektra (force-oblique) said...

I think I will be adding this to my TBR list, not only because this is a great review and the book sounds so original and exciting, but also because I'm a fan of Del Toro's!!
Thanks so much!