The Fall by Guillermo del Toro

The Fall book cover
Rating 8.4/10
The imagination of del Toro and the pen-skills of Chuck Hogan work together perfectly.

The Fall, first published in the UK by HarperCollins on September 16, 2010, is the sequel to authors Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's The Strain (2009). The second instalment in The Strain Trilogy, which will be completed in 2011 following the publication of Eternal Night.

Humans have been displaced at the top of the food chain, and now understand – to their outright horror – what it is to be not the consumer, but the consumed. Ephraim Goodweather, director of the New York office of the Centers for Disease control, is one of the few humans who understand what is really happening. Vampires have arrived in New York City, and their condition is contagious. If they cannot be contained, the entire world is at risk of infection. As Eph becomes consumed with the battle against the total corruption of humanity, his ex-wife, Kelly, now a vampire herself is ever-more determined to claim their son, Zack. As the Biblical origins of the Ancient ones are gradually revealed, Eph learns that there is a greater, more terrible plan in store for the human race – worse even than annihilation…

For The Fall I broke my long-standing rule of never reading the second book in a series before reading the first. It is testament to the book's appeal that as soon as it arrived in the post I wanted to read it – vampires, the end of the world, a dystopian setting, humankind down but not yet out – these are things that I have always loved reading about. As a fan of The Stand by Stephen King, Swan Song by Robert McCammon and, much more recently, The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell I felt confident that The Strain Trilogy will appeal greatly both to myself and millions of others.

The Fall is an action-packed and adrenaline-fuelled novel that is a very enjoyable and exciting journey of escapism. Sometimes books of this type are so concerned with action that characterisation is often a secondary thought, but this is not the case here as each of the leads is sufficiently rounded to encourage empathy and understanding.

The word that I would use to describe Chuck Hogan's writing is accomplished. He does everything well and he is an author who appears to know his strengths and keeps to them. Although the story features much that is fictional it has used human history, and in particular the events that occurred in the concentration camps during the Second World War, to give the plot a realistic feel. The horrific happenings at Treblinka are central to the story and it would interest me to find out what those, for whom this subject is still a very sensitive and upsetting one - feel about them being used in book of vampire fiction.

The imagination of del Toro and the pen-skills of Chuck Hogan work together perfectly and the result is a satisfying, and at times educational, read. I am not a big fan of the recent vampire/romance novels and found it pleasing that the authors return the vampire to a figure that you would fear rather than flutter your eyelashes at. They also come at the vampire genre from a refreshingly different angle and this, alongside the clever melding of history and fiction, make for a rewarding and exiting read. Recommended, particularly to those who have read and enjoyed The Strain.

The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (16 Sep 2010)
ISBN-10: 0007319495
ISBN-13: 978-0007319497

Guillermo Del Toro was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and made his feature directorial debut in 1995 with the film Cronos, and has since gone on to direct Mimic, The Devil's Backbone, Blade II, Hellboy I, Hellboy II, and Pan's Labyrinth.

Chuck Hogan is the author of several acclaimed novels, including Devils in Exile and Prince of Thieves, which won the 2005 Hammett Award, was called one of the ten best novels of the year by Stephen King, and is a major motion picture from Warner Bros. titled The Town. Hogan lives with his family in Massachusetts.

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