Horror, Sci-Fi, Series Spotlight, Thriller

Series Spotlight: The Strain Trilogy

The Strain Trilogy (The Strain, The Fall, The Night Eternal) by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

If you saw my vampire post on last week‘s Top Ten Tuesday, you know this series is on my top list of vampire books. Guillermo del Toro is the award-winning director of such films as Pan’s Labyrinth (love!), Blade II, and the Hellboy movies. Chuck Hogan is otherwise known for writing novels, among them The Town, which became a film of the same name.

I’m not a big fan of horror. I don’t like horror movies. I don’t like being scared. I especially don’t like being scared while reading. However, I sucked it up and read these books. I knew I would be scared, but I was too intrigued to let it go. Plus my mom read them and we had them in my house so I gave it a shot. Also probably helps that I read the first one over my winter break when I was recovering from a break-up (cue break-up horror jokes). A funny thing happened. Yes I was scared for maybe the first half of The Strain. And then I got acclimated. Or used to the brand of horror. Or something that required further meditation. But I stopped being scared and started just really enjoying myself.

I read the first half of The Fall when I was hanging out at the hospital one day over spring break, essentially convinced I had a brain tumor or meningitis or something (none of which was actually the case and yes, I’m fine now). I grabbed it on my way out because I was reading a pretty deep book at the time with small type and I wanted something with larger type (I had the headache to end all headaches), something fun, and most importantly, something that would distract me. It worked. I was actually a little bit sad when we got to the part of the day where they knocked me out with painkillers and other assorted drugs and I couldn’t stay awake to keep reading my book.

I read The Night Eternal this weekend under less-auspicious circumstances. No break-ups, no hospitals, just an airplane. Which, ironically, is where the first part of The Strain takes place.

All three were great books. I don’t think any one in particular was better or worse than the others. The Strain hit the ground running and the breakneck pace continued up to the final pages of The Night Eternal. Fun, thrilling, mysterious, historical, pretty much everything I love in a pleasure read (you know, because I NEVER read for pleasure or anything). I loved that vampirism was taken on in a disease format. In these days of superbugs and novels and films about superbugs (Books: The Hot Zone, The Andromeda Strain Movies: Contagion, 28 Days Later), it’s great to read more things adding to the space. Especially in the horror genre, since the worst horror comes from our own lives and our own world.

I’m not really sure where to classify this series. Thriller. Horror. Sci-Fi. Mish-mash is maybe more like it. Of these genres, I would say I’m most well-versed in thrillers. And this is a great contribution to the thriller genre.

On an interesting side note, I was driving on the freeway today when I saw a guy on a motorcycle in my rearview mirror with something strapped across his back. It wasn’t until he came up beside me that I saw it was a bow. Of course, having recently finished this series, I couldn’t help, but have a flash of Ephraim Goodweather riding a motorcycle with a silver sword strapped to his back, ready to do battle with some vampires. Of course he doesn’t ride a motorcycle in the books, but he’s still badass enough that, had one been available, he would have been on it.

Follow to Amazon for a synopsis of The Strain, The Fall, and The Night Eternal. All three books are now available in paperback as well.

Have any of you read this series?

Fiction, Top Ten Tuesday

TTT: Books for People Who Liked The Historian

TTT is hosted, as always, by The Broke and The Bookish. Today’s topic is: Top Ten Books for People Who Like X Book. I chose The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It’s doubtful you’ll see a review of this book on Isleofbooks. It’s been some years since I read it and as my current goal is to finish reading all the books I have and haven’t read, rereads are a long way off. That said, I really love this book.

Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.

The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known – and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up this quest herself – to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive.

What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler have to do with the modern world? Is it possible that the Dracula of myth truly existed – and that he has lived on, century after century, pursuing his own unknowable ends? The answer to these questions cross time and borders, as first the father and then the daughter search for clues, from dusty Ivy League libraries to Istanbul, Budapest, and the depths of Eastern Europe. In city after city, in monasteries and archives, in letters and in secret conversations, the horrible truth emerges about Vlad the Impaler’s dark reign – and about a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive down through the ages.

Parsing obsure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions – and evading the unknown adversaries who will go to any lengths to conceal and protect Vald’s ancient powers – one woman comes every closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil.

Without further ado, here is my list!

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker.

-I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend this book. Not the first fiction book about vampires, but definitely the first to cement the Dracula legend.

2. The Passage 

-Another of my absolute favorites. This is a chunky book like The Historian, but it moves fast. Love the modern take on vampires.

3. The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

-Watch for a review of the entire series later this week! Somewhat like the passage, this series posits vampirism as a virus. Titles include The Strain, The Fall, and The Night Eternal.

4. The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

-What good list of vampire books doesn’t include this series? Anne Rice was writing about vampires before Twilight made it cool.

5. Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

-Speaking of Twilight, here’s another YA vampire series. I admit, other than the Twilight series, I haven’t read much at all of the market saturation of YA vampire novels. I happen to like these, but no idea how they stack up to the numerous others.

6. I am Legend by Richard Matheson

-This is a vampire book, but I tend to think it of it more as a zombie book. Anyways, it’s worth a read.

7. Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino

-Okay, technically I haven’t read this. But I watched the show! And the show was awesome! So since manga > its anime counterpart, these must be extra awesome. Makes sense, right?

8. Mina by Elaine Bergstrom

-Typically, I don’t like books the purport to be sequels of other books that weren’t written by the same person. But I did actually like this one.

9. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

-I never resist a chance to promote this book. Not about vampires, but the writing has a similar tonal quality to The Historian.

10. Interred with their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell

-I really love historical fiction thrillers. E.G. The Historian. E.G. Interred with their Bones. This one’s about Shakespeare.

And no, I don’t watch True Blood or read the Sookie Stackhouse books.