Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Did Del Toro Change His Mind, Mid-Series?

[A little over a year ago I reviewed the first two books in Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan's The Strain trilogy. This review of the third book assumes that you've read my review for the first two books, which you can find here.]


About this time last year I offered up that the first two books in the trilogy (The Strain and The Fall) were pretty much Left Behind for pagans. I have changed my assessment, now that the trilogy has concluded. This trilogy is Left Behind for pagans who like a little mysticism sprinkled here and there. (The more cruel among us may just say it's for fans of Left Behind.) Initially, I said that del Toro (who refers to himself as a "lapsed Catholic") had taken a naturalistic approach to vampires and that his approach appeared to be intentional. Some described the series as Stephen King meets Michael Crichton.

When I read the third and final book The Night Eternal this last week, I was dumbfounded. It seemed like the series did a 180 worldview shift. Suddenly, now that the ragtag group of rebels have their hands on the infamous vampire text the occito lumen there is this whole backstory which emerges about how The Master (the big bad vampire who is in the process of taking over the world) is actually the ancient bloodworms of an heretofore unknown archangel named Ozryel who had what can only be described as having had vampiric tendencies before his body was torn to pieces by God as a punishment for biting one of his fellow archangels (or something... it was kind of a sloppy story...). Anyway, the series went from being highly scientific/naturalistic in book one to a very hopeless, nihilistic tone in book two, and then ultimately a very spiritual, religious message and tone in the last book.

God, somehow, becomes a big player in the book, and the unlikely second half of the book involves a lot of repetitive phrases such as "Eph stabbed the vampire,"... "Eph's silver sword impaled the vampire," ... "Eph was almost a gonner, but then Mr. Quinlan saved him." I say "unlikely" second half because while The Master has guns and helicopters and weapons galore, Eph and his fellow rebels really only have the Book, a bunch of swords, and a nuke which they plan to use to blow up The Master's birthplace. This nearly all-powerful being who has subjugated the entire human race by book three simply cannot seem to catch this group of oh-so-clever humans who refused to be turned into vampires.

And in the end, there's a reason for that. God is on their side. With God as the tale's before unknown (and certainly unspoken of) deus ex machina we all know there is no stopping Eph, Fet and Nora and their nuclear dream of a world without the Master. And so the drama is stripped from the story. Don't get me wrong - I'm glad that some sort of God won the day in this book, but because he was 100% absent in the first two books, it looks a little like a series that didn't have a built-in ending.

1 comment:

  1. OK, admittedly I have not read you other reviews of the first two books in the series(and I am only almost halfway through The Night Eternal) but I have tosay clearly you were NOT paying attention.None of this Came out of the blue and if you are familiar with Guillermo Del Toro uch of his stuff has a spiritual/fantasy/horror bent(Pan's Labyrinth).No, he did not change direction...you just weren't paying attention.I say where this was going by the end of the first book in the series, The Strain.


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