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Friday, September 9, 2011

The Fall, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan ($9.99) (c2010)

The second installment in del Toro and Hogan's trilogy is just as captivating as the first. Vampirism is not romantic or sexy in these books. It is more akin to a grotesque viral epidemic.

One of the heroes, Eph Goodweather, was an epidemiologist with the CDC. He sought to bring the truth to the world and was rewarded with a false accusation of murder, the loss of his job, and a spot on the FBI's most wanted list. His ex-wife became one of the "strigoi" -- the authors' preferred term for vampire -- in the first book, and her main goal is to find their son, Zach, and turn him into one as well.

Abraham Setrakian is an old man, one who first met the "Master," one of the prime vampires, in a concentration camp during World War II. He has made it his life's work to track down the Master and destroy him.

Vasiliy Fet was an exterminator of small vermin before the apocalpyse and he is still an exterminator, this time of the strigoi. He, Setrakian, and Eph have found each other, and form the core of the rebel group.

As the disease spreads throughout New York City, other characters have been added, including some gangbangers and a broken-down ex-wrestler/"B" movie star. The collapse of political, social, and protective structures is worldwide, but the main characters and the Master are dueling in the Big Apple.

This episode has more of the same as the first book, with a few choice hints dropped on how each side may defeat the other. A mysterious book must be found by the vampire hunters if humankind is to survive. It contains information on who the ancients -- of which the Master is one -- are and, with luck, how they may be defeated. Or so the story goes.

What I enjoy about these books are the nods to science and to a philosophy embracing the archetypes lying within the collective unconscious. Medicine AND voodoo. Although del Toro is a movie maker, with the help of Chuck Hogan*, perhaps, the book doesn't feel that it could go straight to screen without much effort. They are books first and budding screenplays second.

The book ends with a bleak, apocalpytic vision of the world, but with enough hope to ensure that we head straight for the third book the minute it is available!

* Hogan is known for his gritty crime dramas, and his touch can be seen in the development of scenes and characters in the tough neighborhoods of New York.

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