Posts Tagged ‘guillermo del toro’

The Night Eternal by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan – review (spoilers)

March 19, 2012

This is going to be short and sweet. The Night Eternal is the third, and final, installment in a horror trilogy about vampires, co-authored by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. If you’re interested in this (and haven’t already bought/rented it), I have to assume you have read the first two parts of the trilogy and you’re probably up to speed on Del Toro and Hogan’s take on vampires being the result of parasitic worms and nuclear winter being thrown over the earth.  This picks up two years after The Master nukes the origin sites of the other ancients, quickly picking up the strings of the resistance led by the fighters we have come to know in the first two books. The primary love story takes a step to the side a bit, which wasn’t all that unexpected, and The Master is having fun raising his new host, Ephraim’s son.

The world as The Master had envisioned it has pretty much come to pass. Anyone of any power or status has been killed, massive bleeding and breeding farms have been set up, and the human race has, by and large, acquiesced. Now, does any of this really matter? Not at all. truth be told, the end doesn’t particularly matter much, either.  In general terms, the end result for everyone falls roughly into line of what you would expect to happen for everyone. In my opinion, nothing really comes out of the blue in these regards.

But that’s also not the point of the story. The real point of the story is that it is an origins story. I  get the impression that Del Toro and Hogan knew there was only so much they could do with the characters moving forward. There are only so many ways a story like this can end, and really just one way (bad guy loses).  the real meat of the story had to come from something else, and that place was the history of The Master and the other Ancients. The idea of vampires having fallen from God isn’t exactly new, but tying them directly to angels, and then tying it into the mythical destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was fun and interesting. Then bringing that around at the end, with the death of The Master, was a nice way of wrapping up the trilogy.

Perhaps like any good trilogy, it also left us with the possibility of another sequal. The implications that vampires would no longer be around to pull the strings and push civilization in a direction that wouldn’t just careen out of control in an ugly death spiral was something that seems to have some legs, though it’s also ground that could just as well be covered by things like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Del Toro and Hogan do hint at a rosier outcome than the bleak trek to a dead sea that McCarthy envisioned, though.

So, if you liked the first two, go ahead, finish off the trilogy, it’s worth the few hundred pages. If you’ve held off on the trilogy and you’ve stumbled across this review, go, and check out the first two novels and get up to speed. To me, this is a pretty rare thing right now, a not-crappy horror series that manages to stay somewhat true to the genre and the subject matter, while also adding its own twists and innovations to make the work unique, special and a worthy addition to the field.

The Fall by del Toro and Hogan – a review

September 13, 2011

I owe a lot to the horror genre, and specifically Stephen King. Grades 1-5 took a lot of time and care to bludgeon out of me any joy that I got from reading. I was put into special reading groups, so I had to miss movies the rest of the grade got to see. I had to read books only two or three other people had to read. My spelling lists were different. My entire school experience was different from probably 95% of my classmates. My response was to say to hell with it and morph into one of the laziest (though still high grade attaining, which was quite the feat), most put off students you could find. I wasn’t put enough to quit doing the work, just enough to do it sloppily and as averagely as I could. Unfortunately, this was a lesson that I am still unable to entirely shake, as I still find myself wanting to default to “not give a shit mode.”

Thankfully, Stephen King (specifically, his Eyes of the Dragon novel) rescued my interests at some point in middle school and I took up reading again. Truth be told, I’ve never been overly interested in the horror genre outside of King. I tried Koontz, but couldn’t get into it. Lost interest in Lovecraft, and enjoyed the occasional zombie anthology. There was a brief time when I really dug Phil Rickman, but suddenly his books quit appearing on the bookshelves. Though intermittent reader, I’ve always kept at least half an eye turned towards the horror section, looking for something new and interesting.

I found it with the first book of what’s promised to be a trilogy, The Strain. It was original, returning vampires to the ugly, brutal cloth that I think they were originally meant to be before they were sanitized and made glittery.  It was a breath of fresh air for a subject that had simply lost me.

Reading The Fall, the newness of the approach is, as expected, gone. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does force the novel to stand on its own feet in a way the first novel didn’t have to bother itself with. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite hold up its own weight. The people you expect to die, do. Those you expect to live, do. And it clearly leaves off in preparation for a third act, so any great revelation isn’t to be expected.

Where the third book goes, is still up in the air. They seem to hint at a somewhat darker turn at points in this novel, specifically regarding Ephraim’s son and the biblical turn his story line appears to take towards the end of The Strain.

There are some larger themes at play in the book. There is certainly a question of obsessions becoming a blinding force, luring characters into actions they feel are necessary but are really foolish and destined for failure, often leading to the loss of loved ones. We see it with Ephraim. We come to see it with Setrakian. We see it with Palmer. We see it with the Ancients.  It’s repeatedly early and often in both books.

Also, there seems to be a lot going on with blood, not just in the sense of nourishment/poison, but in the sense of family, connections and responsibility and it often ties into the idea of obsessions. The vampires introduce their own idea of “blood” and family, and the obligations that go along with it. With the human characters we see varying definitions of what family means and entails, and the sacrifices that go with it. There might really be something here in regards to how the male and female characters treat the idea of familial responsibilities, and the success each gender has at fulfilling the roles they largely self-define.

This idea of family and blood, and the differences along these lines between the vampires (and specifically the ancients) and the humans gains a bit more depth considering the connection between the ancients and their “homes” and between humans and their homes.

Alright, my coffee cup is empty. I’ve been tempted to google some of the stuff from The Strain having to deal with The Master and things Satrakian said, but I actually don’t want to chance upon some part of the story the authors plan on revealing in their own good time. So while there might be more depths to plunge in that direction, they are going to have to be spelunked by someone else. Or if  I am to do it, it will be at a later time after having read the next book.

The Strain by del Toro and Hogan – Review

January 3, 2011

I’m not a fan of Twilight. I could never get into Ann Rice. The whole Dracula/vampire thing, as a whole, has always been something that just didn’t really grab me. I’m alright with the Buffy TV series (though I liked the movie more, and am not thrilled with the idea of a re-make of it) and thought From Dusk til Dawn was good stupid fun. Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan have created a vampire book that I can dig, though.

There is nothing cuddly or romantic about these vampires. There is also nothing admirable about them in The Strain they are directly and indirectly compared to a virus, to a plague, and it is a metaphor the authors do well in honing and expounding upon. There’s really nothing beyond their actions beyond replication and dominance, at least not until the end when a larger picture and direction are hinted at.

For anyone else who has simply had their fill of watered down vampire stories, The Strain is a refreshing change of pace. It keeps you turning pages and breaths a bit of life into an idea that has taken a bit of a beating lately. These vampires are actually scary and the book is well-written.