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Well, The Strain – where to start?

OK, so a plane lands in New York and kind of just sits on the runway, totally blacked out, no sound, no nothing. Quite creepy. The CDC are called when the plane is opened and everyone on it is found to be dead and nobody knows why or how. Except of course there are one or two who have survived but things don’t look good for them for long. Or indeed for the ones that are already dead.

Then there’s the really big box with the strange carvings and filled with smelly earth which disappears behind everyone’s backs.

Is there a new kind of virus rampaging through New York or is this a more insidious and ancient evil making itself felt?

What do you reckon? Yes, its “Dracula on a Plane”!

Which does seem a bit unfair given I read the second half of this in one sitting on the first Saturday of my holiday and enjoyed it sufficiently to know that I will almost certainly get the sequel when it comes out in paperback next year.  You can see the Great Guillermo’s paws all over the plot and the biology (which is lovely and gruesome), and it’s all incredibly easy to visualise.

But it isn’t as original as it thinks it is. Though to be fair maybe it doesn’t think it’s original and is just happily getting on with re-telling an old story in a modern setting with a thriller twist.

And all the thriller elements are definitely here:

  • the troubled hero with family problems (divorce, custody battle, on the wagon after manful struggle with alcoholism) tasked with finding out just what we are dealing with here;
  • the attractive co-worker who has been/almost certainly wants to continue being more than a friend;
  • the old man who is more than he appears, with esoteric knowledge they need, a haunted past and a plan that just might work if only someone would listen to him;
  • an ancient evil from the Old Country who is more powerful than you could ever imagine (some great puny mortal moments);
  • a man with far too much money and a debilitating illness who will do anything to live forever;
  • the friend that isn’t totally on their side and no one finds out until it’s just too late, dammit;
  • oh and a range of bureaucrats who do the whole “I can’t believe what you’re telling me, will you listen to yourself” schtick and not much else until it’s all beyond our control.

I can see the mini-series galloping towards me, probably on SyFy. It will be gross if done properly. It will be silly if not. I have already started casting this in my head.

If I was participating in RIP  V, then this would have been my first read.

I have been a huge fan of Posy Simmonds for many a long year; used to read her strips in The Guardian on the women’s page when I was a student, and have a number of her children’s books because I love her drawing style so much.

Tamara Drewe also appeared in The Guardian as a serial but it has been reworked for publication as a graphic novel, and is a very enjoyable look at the lives of the chattering classes in a countryside setting, where the members of a writer’s retreat are affected by the reappearance of Tamara after her nose job and with a successful career as a newspaper columnist. Tragedy strikes, as it inevitably must.

I’m not sure I really liked any of the characters much, and I’m not sure whether I was supposed to or not. The writer’s retreat lot were very middle class, pretty smug and deserved most of what they got. The locals, especially two teenagers, Jody and Casey, are also caught up in all the stuff around Tamara, and what happens to them is not so deserved. But it’s enjoyable as a black comedy, well written and looks fabulous.

If I was still taking part in the Graphic Novel Challenge 2010 then this would have been a read for that, but to be honest the reason I picked this out of the stacks where it has been languishing for a while is that Silvery Dude and his Good Lady saw the film version (fluff, forgettable but not awful was I think what he said), and thought I’d prefer the source to the movie.

And I’m probably right.

Bride of the Book God

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Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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October 2010