The Strain, #1

Author: Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hoganstrain
Publisher: William Morrow
Date: 2009
Genre: Horror
ISBN: 978-0062068255
Price: $16.99
Number of Pages: 416
Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback, E-Book, Audio

Rating Scale: 3Q, 4P

Links to Author’s Website and Interviews

Links to Reviews

Reader’s Annotation

A plane full of passengers has arrived at an airport. There’s just one problem: they all appear to be dead.


This novel is a dark and serious take on the vampire genre. It begins with a dark force that is unleashed on an airplane, who seemingly kills everyone on board. Even more mysteriously, the plane manages to land perfectly despite the deaths of the pilots. CDC Epidemiologist Ephraim Goodweather is called to the scene to investigate the deaths as a possible disease outbreak. Ephraim is puzzled to find that there are no clear causes of death and is shocked to find that there are four people who have miraculously survived. Meanwhile, a mysterious coffin found on the plane is taken by a named Gus, who was hired to deliver the coffin to a man who man who has special plans for it. As Ephraim tries to figure out the cause of the deaths, he meets an old man name Abraham, who claims that a deadly, powerful vampire is behind the attack. Ephraim believes he is crazy at first, but as mysterious things begin to happen, such as the bodies of the plane passengers disappearing from the morgue, he is forced to re-evaluate everything he believes he knows.

Critical Evaluation

One of the best things about this book is that it is brings horror back to the vampire genre. In recent years, the trend was to portray vampires as heartthrobs who sweep women off their feet, such as in the Twilight books. The Strain’s vampires can’t be more different. Del Toro and Hogan make them both terrifying and disgusting, providing a refreshing take on the genre. The writers excel at the suspense and horror, as the novel can be truly scary at times. However, the pacing is uneven, as it takes some time into the book for the action to kick off. Sometimes the authors get bogged down in unnecessary, technical details, which can detract from the suspense of the story. Despite this, the authors still manage to craft an interesting story filled with intriguing and diverse characters. I’m definitely interested in reading the other two books in the series.

Significance of Book

This book has received a lot of buzz since its publication in 2009, primarily because of its connection to Oscar winning director, Guillermo Del Toro. This past summer, it was even made into a television show. The book really has the distinction of putting the horror back in the vampire genre.


Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz

The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman

Awards and Lists

Amazon Best of the Month, June 2009

Discussion Ideas

  • Discuss it’s connection to Dracula
  • Discuss Abraham and his past as a Holocaust victim.

Justification of Selection

What really intrigued me about this book is that it’s a different take on vampires. I was getting a little fatigued with all the vampire media, but this book seemed fresh and interesting. It was also a big plus that it was co-written by Guillermo Del Toro.


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