Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ex Libris: Hogan & Del Toro's The Strain

Avoid Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro's The Strain like the plague.

Okay, that's kind of harsh-- but hey, at least you immediately know what I thought about the book. Consider this the biohazard sign attached to hazardous materials. The fact that I dropped-kicked the book a quarter of the way in says a lot given that I'm usually forgiving about bad books.

What didn't I like about it? I thought it felt like it written in vein of a movie. I thought the same way about Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, the way the action in the text moves like a movie scene with all the cuts and interjection.

That's the big difference between text and screen: in a book or short story, you've got to project the narrative smoothly in the reader's imagination. You can't pull and push the reader around the way TV shows or movies do.

There was also problem of too much info-dumping, like the scene involving the hazmat suits prior to the entrance to the airplane. It's one of the basic rules of writing: show, don't tell.

And what was worse was the authorial insertions every now and then, like the writer wanted to add a bit of literary language to the story. Seriously? This is a vampire book we're talking about. If I wanted to read something literary, I would have picked up something on the shortlist of the Booker Prize or something.

(Obviously, you can write a literary book about vampires. But this is not how do it.)

So yeah, Guillermo del Toro is a great director and I love his films. But his first outing as a novelist? I'll give this a pass. (Rating: No paws.)


dodo dayao said...

Word has it that chuck hogan is to blame for all the "writing" here. del toro merely provided the backbone and the universe and they stamped his name on the cover for added marquee value.

Culdn't finish this one, too.

banzai cat said...

huh, that is interesting though not surprising i guess in cases like these: the lesser known name being the one who does the writing chores.

though i swear i was wondering what kool-aid the writers of the positive reviews were drinking when i read 'em.