Guillermo Del Toro &
Published 2010 390 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
“We survivors are bloodied, we are broken, we are defeated. But we are not turned. We are not Them. Not yet.”
The deadly virus unleashed on New York ravages the country. If the epidemic cannot be contained, soon the world will fall.
Amid the chaos, Dr Ephraim Goodweather leads a ragged crew defying the bloodthirsty masterminds behind the outbreak. Guided by Holocaust survivor Abraham Setrakian and guarded by veteran exterminator Vasiliy Fet, they survive in the city’s infested underground. Though there is one glimpse of hope, secretly Eph fears their resistance is too little, too late.
And as the origins of the Master behind the epidemic are gradually revealed, Eph learns there is a greater, more terrible plan in store for the human race – worse even than extinction…
The Fall is the second novel in Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire horror Strain trilogy. Following on from directly where The Strain left off, the story follows the increasingly dire circumstances of a group of vampire epidemic survivors in New York City. Civilisation is falling down around their ears while the upper echelons of government seem happy to fiddle while Rome burns (only in this case it’s Manhattan, not Rome.)
I thought The Strain was one of the best vampire horror thrillers I’d read in a long while and eagerly anticipated The Fall, expecting it to be just as good. However, I just couldn’t like this book anywhere nearly enough, let alone as much as I enjoyed The Strain. The Strain struck me as a would-be typical vampire thriller that avoided typical clichés by the addition of some wonderfully unusual characters. In particular Setrakian, the octogenarian vampire hunter, made a pleasant change from the more sexy “Buffy” female stereotypes that dominate the vampire slaying business. An alcoholic doctor and a pest exterminator also proved to be interesting characters – unlikely, if realistic heroes. In The Fall, all of these characters (with the exception of Setrakian) grated upon my nerves at various times during the story. Why I failed to reengage with them is anyone’s guess because even I can’t say for sure what irritated me so much about them.
The Fall rips along at a great pace but is unrelentingly grim and full of apocalyptic doom. The vampire virus epidemic is akin to a catastrophic zombie outbreak, human civilisation is over run with bloodthirsty undead mobs within weeks. I generally enjoy zombie movies and I’m a fan of The Walking Dead, which I find entertaining and ultimately uplifting despite its end-of-the-world scenarios – yet I found The Fall to be more dreary and draining, than entertaining. Maybe the authors went too far in trying to establish how far humanity falls. While setting the scene of “the greatest darkness is before dawn” they forgot to include some kind of hope that dawn might eventually arrive. If you’re feeling depressed you could lose the will to live while reading this gruelling book.
Another detractor from The Fall is the quality of writing. It’s nowhere near as good as that of The Strain. Assuming that you enjoy the story’s increasingly bleak landscapes and scenarios the language used to convey those scenes is poor. There are numerous uses of “he said” and “she said”. Not to mention the “nuke plant” and the “vamp”, rather than “nuclear power plant” and “vampire”. Petty annoyances, I know, but I also know the authors can write better than that.
I shall probably stick around for The Night Eternal, the third and final part of the trilogy – mainly because I’m a completist and also because feel I’m over half way to the end now that I’ve finished book two. However, I shan’t be running to the book store for it. A library loan when I recouped my reading energy will suffice.
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