2016 Reading Challenge: The Strain

Guys, I’ve held off with my reading challenge update because it’s going to come down to the wire! I know no one really cares if I complete it or not, but I came up with it. I want to finish! So I won’t tell you how close I am just yet.

My latest read was The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The story is eerily similar to that of I Am Legend. A virus tears across NYC and causes people to morph into vampires. Only in this story they are all controlled and connected to one another via The Master. A vampire hundreds of years old who can move from one host body to another whenever the need arises. An old pawnbroker, two epidemiologists, an exterminator, and a not-so-hardened criminal lead the fight against the vampire outbreak. But their most difficult opponent may very well be a wealthy businessman who has assisted The Master in exchange for eternal life.

First, I’m a big fan of the TV show based on this trilogy of books. So I did not go into this blind like I imagine readers before me did. But I still had some problems with it. The difference between this book and the other two vampire novels I’ve read (Dracula and I Am Legend) is that it goes from unbelievable to acceptance very quickly. The basis of the spread of the virus is a plane that arrives in NYC full of dead people. All but four people on board appear dead, except they’ve only been turned and not actually killed for good. It was only a night or two after this that the main characters of the story accepted that vampires were overrunning the city.

While reading this book I never felt invested in any of the characters. Which is saying something because it took me nearly 11 hours to finish! I didn’t like how chapters jumped from one perspective to another without any warning. I usually don’t mind if it’s done in different chapters rather than the same one. There was at least one 75 page chapter that I found ridiculous. 75 pages!

You’re reading this thinking I hated the book. I didn’t. I enjoyed it. The vampires are different from just about any I’ve ever imagined, which I already knew from the TV show. They had to be my favorite part of the book. Their brutality and gruesomeness is awesome, but so is the manner in which they’re killed. You have this old guy who walks around with a cane that isn’t really a cane. It’s a sword he uses to decapitate the vampires. He has an armory of weapons and devices he’s put together over the years as he waited for the war to begin.

I applaud the authors for their modern take on the vampire, but it did feel more like a copy than an original. The Count is still the greatest evil I’ve ever read in any book and Robert Neville fought the good fight ON HIS OWN. Those two books are simply on a different level from this one. This book wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t great. Maybe the other two books in the trilogy will be improvements. Overall I’d rate it about a 3.8 or 3.9 out of 5.

This book satisfied the requirement to read a book that’s your favorite color of my 2016 reading challenge.

What’s your favorite vampire novel!?

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2016 Reading Challenge Book #6: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

*Contains spoilers*

I also read this book weeks ago and failed to write a post or make a video about it.

I’m sure you know the basic premise of the story by now. The book is decades old. There’s an outbreak of a virus that turns people into what appear to be vampires. Dr. Robert Neville essentially makes it his life’s work to find a cure.

First, the book is NOT like the movie starring Will Smith. The stories are actually quite different and should be evaluated on their own individual merits.

The movie has a relatively happy ending. Dr. Neville sacrifices himself for the cure he finally finds. The book does not. There is no cure. Dr. Neville is taken from his home after he refuses to leave everything behind when a mysterious woman warns him of what’s to come. Then it becomes apparent that he’s now become an outsider to this new group of people. He’s different because he’s not infected. And he must be killed.

The book is exceptional. There’s no other way to say it. And it’s short, so you don’t have dozens of pages of filler. The writing is superb and Dr. Neville is a character you can easily relate to. Each night the loneliness he feels is nearly unbearable.

When I finished the book I immediately thought of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. He gave birth to the modern vampire. And his classic is nothing short of a masterpiece. But I Am Legend is nearly as brilliant.

I haven’t read too many vampire stories, but I imagine the two I’ve mentioned today are many steps above just about everything else out there.

Have you read either of these classic vampire tales?

This book satisfied the requirement from my reading challenge to read a book with a movie tie-in cover.