Title: The Night Eternal: Book Three of the Strain Trilogy
Author: Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
No. of Pages: 371
“It’s been two years since the vampiric virus was unleashed in The Strain, and the entire world now lies on the brink of annihilation. There is only night as nuclear winter blankets the land, the sun filtering through the poisoned atmosphere for two hours each day—the perfect environment for the propagation of vampires.
There has been a mass extermination of humans, the best and the brightest, the wealthy and the influential, orchestrated by the Master—an ancient vampire possessed of unparalleled powers—who selects survivors based on compliance. Those humans who remain are entirely subjugated, interred in camps, and separated by status: those who breed more humans, and those who are bled for the sustenance of the Master’s vast army.
The future of humankind lies in the hands of a ragtag band of freedom fighters—Dr. Eph Goodweather, former head of the Centers for Disease Control’s biological threats team; Dr. Nora Martinez, a fellow doctor with a talent for dispatching the undead; Vasiliy Fet, the colorful Russian exterminator; and Mr. Quinlan, the half-breed offspring of the Master who is bent on revenge. It’s their job to rescue Eph’s son, Zack, and overturn this devastating new world order. But good and evil are malleable terms now, and the Master is most skilled at preying on the weaknesses of humans.
Now, at this critical hour, there is evidence of a traitor in their midst. . . . And only one man holds the answer to the Master’s demise, but is he one who can be trusted with the fate of the world? And who among them will pay the ultimate sacrifice—so that others may be saved?”
Thoughts: In the final installment of The Strain Trilogy, The Night Eternal starts up two years after the vampires destroyed the world with its massive nuclear attack, plunging the world into constant darkness. The authors highlight the changes wrought by the fallout and by the world domination of the Master and how humanity has changed as a result. It is an interesting assessment on the need to survive versus thrive in a situation where humans are no longer at the top of the food chain. The rather pessimistic viewpoint on this issue is very indicative of the authors’ own prejudices about their fellow humans and rather depressing in general. The Night Eternal is not the cheeriest of novels.
The first surprising thing readers will notice is that the entire band of fearless revolutionaries that they have followed for two novels are all still alive in this world of slavery and fear. Given the complete assimilation of most of humanity, the probability of the entire group surviving for so long seems too high for this scenario to be completely probable. In fact, the air of incredulity that already exists because of these vampires is only exacerbated by this miraculous survival of these ordinary humans. The second thing that strikes the reader is the fact that the authors still insist on calling these zombie aliens vampires even after multiple explanations of their origins and descriptions. In fact, certain events in this final installment of the trilogy solidify the idea that these creatures are most definitely NOT vampires. It may seem a trivial point to be so bothered but to sell the series as a vampire series is seriously misleading.
That being said, The Night EternalL holds no major surprises and very little in the way of tension. The final climatic scene is utterly predictable and expected, and the characters remain one-dimensional. More importantly, the novel continues to read as a screenplay for a fairly campy and yet surprisingly scary horror film. Fans of the first two books in the series will rejoice at finding out the fates of the key characters, but the true shining moment in the novel remains the complete history of the origins of the Ancients. This alone showcases the promise the first novel had with its unique and creative premise. Unfortunately, the entire series is an example of a story that did not have enough behind it to remain entertaining throughout all three novels.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to Chelsea Emmelhainz at William Morrow for my review copy!