Friday, November 18, 2011

The Night Eternal

Vampires have taken over the globe. The internet and cell phones are outlawed. Nuclear bombs are disarmed. The air is extremely polluted, shrinking daylight hours to only a couple each day. People with desirable blood types are put into farms to be bred or bled. Humanity keeps going as it always has, getting used to their vampire overlords' demands. Ephraim Goodweather is broken. His wife has been turned into a vampire and she frequently stalks and torments him. His son is missing and he has no idea if he's alive, or dead, or a vampire. In addition to all this, he has turned to drugs and alcohol to dull his feelings and survive day to day. He and his small group of friends are the only hope that human race has left to save themselves. They plan to find the Master's place of origin and nuke it, destroying him and all of his offspring. Can Ephraim hold it together long enough to destroy his mortal enemy or will he simply drown in his own sorrow?

The Night Eternal is the third and final book in the Strain trilogy. I loved both of the previous books and had high expectations for this one. I was a little disappointed, but many great things continued from the previous books. As always, the characters are completely fleshed out and multidimenstional. Ephraim is a good person, but became irresponsible and self indulgent due to his family and his world being completely torn apart. Nora is struggling to hide her less than lucid, aged mother from the new society that views the elderly as a drain of resources. Fez is trying to find a working nuclear bomb on his worldly travels and developing a relationship with Nora while Ephraim continues to drown his sorrows. The most compelling character to me is Mr. Quinlan, the only born vampire in existence. He was born during the reign of Caligula and his only goal is to destroy the Master, which would result in his death. His back story is fascinating and his enigmatic presence in the earlier books becomes more understandable. The other triumph of this book is the action sequences and sustaining a high level of suspense throughout. Their adventures take them from blood farms to the houses of the rich to the bowels of abandoned universities to a dark, ominous island.

The Night Eternal lost me when it broke from the other books and maintained a distinctly fantasy and mythology based origin for the vampires and relied on ridiculous moments of deus ex machina to solve their problems. I loved that the first two books had detailed, scientific explanations for vampire biology and behavior that the main characters figured out in order to defeat them. It was fascinating and something I had never seen before in vampire novels. This new, magic material just shatters the past science fiction basis. There are fallen angels, prophecies galore, and at least a few instances of deus ex machina, which is one of the worst writing tropes. It cheapened the story for me and was just annoying. I was disappointed that a great science fiction series suddenly changed into a mediocre fantasy.

Overall, I enjoyed The Night Eternal if I ignored the ridiculous prophecies and magical nonsense. The writing remained excellent beyond that and the characters stayed true to themselves. I would recommend that fans of this series ascertain if they can tolerate the change in tone before reading.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins


M.A.D. said...

Ah, I really enjoyed the Strain but haven't read beyond the first book in the trilogy - So kinda *skipped* thru the review to avoid potential spoilers.

Thanks though for reminding me I need to add these to my TBR/wish list :)

It's too easy to lose track if I don't keep an updated/current list going [my kids just *roll* their eyes when I complain about having so many terrific books to get to hehe].

LoriStrongin said...

Wow, talk about making things hard for your characters! I haven't read anything in this series before, but I totally want to as yeah, these characters sounds interesting and this world a really horrible ones for humans trying to survive.

Thanks for the rec!