Friday, May 21, 2010

Bliss Part 18

Choice quotes from The Strain.

To minimize plot revelations, I shall provide only minimal context.

One of the best passages so far ( I'm now 205 pages in ) describes a solar eclipse:

"As the crescent sun continued to narrow, the complexion of the sky became a strangled violet. The darkness in the west gathered strength like a silent, windless storm system, spreading throughout the sky and closing in around the weakened sun, like a great organism succumbing to a corrupting force spreading from within.

The sun grew perilously thin, the view - through safety glasses - like that of a manhole lid being slid shut high above, squeezing out the daylight. The crescent blazed white, then turned to silver in its agonal last moments.

...The end came quickly. The last throes were chilling, intense, the crescent shrinking to a curved line, a slicing scar in the sky, then fragmenting into individual pearls of fiery white, representing the last of the sun's rays seeping through the deepest valleys along the lunar surface. These beads winked and vanished in rapid succession, snuffed out like a dying candle flame drowned in its own black wax. The crimson-colored band that was the chromosphere, the thin upper atmosphere of the sun, flared for a precious, final few seconds - and then the sun was gone.


I have to admit that the first 40 pages lumbered along at too leisurely a pace for me. But in hindsight, this was necessary in order to build up adequate momentum and introduce the reader to the key players.

It's quite rare - for me at least - to find a novel which contains everything I could possibly ask for: great characters, fantastic writing, cool story, nail-biting suspense - in equal measure. Usually, I enjoy a book for one or more of these features, with a single element somewhat lacking.

But no, The Strain has exceeded expectations on all counts. Could be due to the fact that I seldom read horror novels ( Dexter's gory, but infused with a lot of humour, which helps take the edge off ). Can't remember the last time I read a truly scary book; even Laurell K. Hamilton's Vampire Hunter series is more action-adventure than hair-raising.

I would highly recommend The Strain primarily for its exceptional writing. Hogan expertly draws you into a beautifully woven tale filled with vivid characters and exciting set pieces.

One of the scenes had me cowering in bed past midnight. Not good if you need to get up early the next morning for a meeting! Superbly written yet again, but if I quote it here, I will certainly ruin the surprise.

Have already expressed hope that a film adaptation will materialize in the near future, but del Toro has his hands full with The Hobbit, and I don't think any other director would be able to match his vision.

Maybe after the book trilogy is completed? Hint, hint. :)

Shall leave you to digest this over the weekend.

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