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Book Cover Image: The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck HoganTitle: The Fall (Strain Trilogy #2)

Author: Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogen

Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books): “The vampiric virus unleashed in The Strain has taken over New York City. It is spreading across the country and soon, the world. Amid the chaos, Eph Goodweather — head of the Center for Disease Control’s team — leads a small band out to stop these bloodthirsty monsters. But it may be too late.

Ignited by the Master’s horrific plan, a war erupts between Old and New World vampires, each vying for total control. Caught between these warring forces, humans — powerless and vulnerable — are no longer the consumers, but the consumed.

Though Eph understands the vampiric plague better than anyone, even he cannot protect those he loves from the invading evil. His ex-wife, Kelly, has been turned by the Master, and now she stalks the city, in the darkness, looking for her chance to reclaim Zack, Eph’s young son.

With the future of the world in the balance, Eph and his courageous team, guided by the brilliant former professor and Holocaust survivor Abraham Setrakian and exterminator Vasiliy Fet, must combat a terror whose ultimate plan is more terrible than anyone first imagined — a fate worse than annihilation.”

Thoughts: Picking up only a day or two after The Strain ends, The Fall segues away from the traditional horror, as established in The Strain, and moves towards a more psychological thriller. Instead of who and what, The Fall presents readers with the master plan – what it is, who is involved, and why. Given my reaction to the focus on the vampire virus and the vampires themselves in the first novel, this switch was a welcome change and definitely renewed my interest in the series.

For those not familiar with the series, The Fall does an excellent job of recapping the previous story without completely rehashing every detail. The end result is a novel that will not bore fans who read the first book but will bring new readers up-to-speed quickly. This allows more time for the real action of the story to develop.

Given its focus on the whys and hows behind the Master’s plan and its more psychological nature, one might assume that the book is less scary, less horrific. This is definitely not true. Rather than focusing on horror of the vampires, readers are introduced to the horrors of humans and the depths to which they are willing to descend for power. This is a much more horrifying aspect of the story because it is the one element of the series that could come true – humans selling out other humans for power and money. It is definitely nightmare-worthy.

Not being quite a fan of The Strain, I do think the series redeemed itself with The Fall. There are quite a few untied story lines and certain cliffhangers that make it clear that the third book is going to be just as different from the first two, as The Fall is from the first book. It definitely lost its humor and became a truly scary story.

Thank you to HarperCollins Publishing for my advanced reading copy!

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