Book Review: The Fall
Since the release of the last novel in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn, and the enduring fiasco of their movie adaptations, I searched for a mature vampire epic that does not read like a daytime soap opera. For four years I have searched in vain until, alas, I stumbled upon my salvation in The Fall (Book 2 of The Strain series).
It was Guillermo Del Toro’s name on the cover that first caught my eye. The director of Pan’s Labyrinth and both Hellboy movies has proven he has a unique vision when it comes to horror. He has brought this same imagination to The Fall. Del Toro and author Chuck Hogan bring to life the vampire apocalypse with eloquence and graphic imagery. While the first book in the three-part series, The Strain, introduced the virus that causes zombie-like vampirism, the second book in the series details the struggles of the survivors to make sense of this epidemic and try to survive it with their humanity intact.
Gone are the vampires who sparkle and speak like the main characters of a Harlequin romance novel. They have been replaced with creatures that don’t bite your neck, but expel a flesh-colored, stinger-like extremity that latches onto your neck. While the first book was creepy and ominous with a mystery novel feel, The Fall is full of emotional conflict and far more disturbing images, such as the conversion of sight-deprived vampire children called “Feelers.”
Del Toro and Hogan do a masterful job of intertwining the history in the The Fall as the reader learns more about the rise of the trilogy’s antagonist. Both authors expertly steer away from the most prominent vampire clichés, with the most romantic pairing ending with the man cutting his wife’s heart out. However, even with the lack of romantic involvements, the reader is still able to become attached to the characters without becoming infatuated (Twihards, I’m talking to you).
One of the authors’ techniques that adds tension to The Fall is including more chapter breaks that end with cliffhangers and urge the reader to turn the page. These breaks propel the reader faster and faster toward the final conflict and climax of the book. The one negative aspect of The Fall‘s otherwise well-formed plot is the end of the book itself. The final battle is anti-climatic and brief. I was expecting the authors to spend more than four pages on the battle that claims the life of one of the main characters. I had to go back and make sure the book hadn’t been printed with pages missing.
While The Fall lacks the mystery and intrigue of its predecessor, the novel makes up for it with action, raw human emotion and disturbing images. While it’s obvious The Fall is the middle book in The Strain trilogy, it does its job by keeping the reader entertained and interested; when the final book arrives, readers will have no choice but to pick it up. If you’re looking for a real vampire epic that doesn’t appeal to a gaggle of screaming pre-teens and has nothing whatsoever to do with Robert Pattinson, then The Fall is worth your time. The Fall is scientific, intelligent, witty and takes place in a realistic setting that makes it a truly enjoyable and entertaining read.
Star Rating: 4.5/5