Even if one understands that what one is doing
is mad, it is indeed still madness—cutting the diseased
heart out of one's wife's chest and preserving it,
the corrupted organ beating with the craving of a blood
worm, inside a pickling jar. Life is madness,
thought Setrakian, done with his butchering, looking
about the room. And
so is love.
—The Fall, Morrow, ISBN 9780061558221, c.2010,
Tired of brooding, poser vampires working their
best James Dean moves for a little love with their feedings?
Well, step aside for a freight train of retro slag scattering
the remains of any leftover sympathy for those matinee
sanguinators, for this three-some of connected novels is
the antonym of Twilight.
Using lots of quasi-scientific info dumps advertising that
blood-sucking tics in desiccated, human form are perpetrated
as a virus, then, sensitive to its Creationist readers, covers
all channels in backstory by revealing the Master vampire
was an Archangel back in the day. Thus, The Strain Trilogy dispenses
with any and all ontological issues by straddling its suppositious
strudel with enough, ah, strain to get on with the
slaughtering vampires and getting slaughtered by vampires in an apocalyptical
scenario of page-turning velocity through 1,080 pages.
To be sure, the books are plot thick. It's a Thriller, for
Gad's sake. Atmosphere is experiencing the Big Apple turn
rotten as the life light of its residents putrefy like moldy,
infected fruit. By blowing all the nucleur reactors and other
poisonious machinations, the vampires turn the Earth into
uninhabitable sludge with a sunshine window of about 2-3
hours per day. Without fangs, they suck the essence out of
you with retractable, six-foot extended tubes buried under
their tongues. Think that second set of teeth on the Alien coming
at you suddenly. Yep, daylight kills them, silver hurts them,
beheadings stop them. And, it's a hive-mind setup so all
the vamps are Zombies answering to The Master.
Most of the other legendary characteristics hold.
Oh yeah, there ain't no sex, ‘cause these wasteoids got
shriveled genitals as a trade-off for immortality.
How could this have happened here in America, huh?
Well, it all starts with the landing of a Boeing
777 jet at JFK with all its 210 passengers and crew on
board done jumbies. Off the page, this happens all over
the world.(1) And,
just like that infamous Count of yesteryear who also traveled
overseas to start things a-rollin', a box of special dirt
goes missing from the plane and into NYC's subway underground.
Getting personal, a band of Fearless Vampire Killers forms.
Van Helsing is repped by Abraham Setrakian, an old, crusty-but-benign
Jew and survivor of the Holocaust. Then there are the tag-team
doctors of epidemiology and biochemistry from CDC, Dr.
Ephraim (Eph) Barnes & Dr.
Nora Martinez. The working class stand-in is Vasiliy Fet,
a ratcatcher by trade, a focused, tireless, action figure
The hominal counter-plot concerns Eph's divorced-from
family of ex-wife Kelly—turned vamp & camp early in
Zack, his tweener and somewhat-alienated son, who—natch—ends
up under the malodorous influence of The Master and must
be saved. Eph's a drunk and subsequently accident ready;
determined but overwhelmed to do the right thing, yet hamstrung
by cross-purposes involving his malleable son. One of the
driving, creative aspects of this trilogy is the irony of
the Dear Ones. You see, once a Zombievamp(2) is
made, the bonding emotions fixate off the Richter scale for
their deepest loved ones, begetting a one-way chasm of a
chewfest on the closest family members. It is a bitter valentine
to find your wife or mother a skin-stretched skeleton shambling
toward you for a tender embrace, only to rip out your jugular.
Anyway, weaponized with wonders like the automatic
nail gun that shoots silver brads, this ensemble of still-breathing
terrorists—by Book 3, Zombievamps dominate human society,
dividing them up into strictly bloodbags for feeding, proletariat
work camps a la Auschwitz, turned hunters, servants, police—gotta
figure a way to downsize The Master. With the help of such
notorious no-gooders like ghetto gang leaders, the Jonathan
Harker-ites devise a seemingly-stupid if not suicidal plan:
These books are as much fun to read as I had composing this
review. And, it is refreshing to see the vampire genre back
on track with innovations sponsoring them as villains to
all living creatures. Scuttlebutt has Del Toro bringing his
story to episodic TV production in the near future, just
as the success of The Walking Dead appears to be
waning. But it's not gonna be The Twilight Strain vaccinating
us against traditional bloodsuckers for the ennui-ridden
posturings of nouveau hipsters.
belief alert: I still can't figure how Master pulled
this one off.
can't talk, or think independently, for that matter.
02/14/2013 by Larry Crawford