October 30, 2014

Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain; a not so in depth book/tv comparison

Over the summer FX aired season one of the Strain, which is for the most part set to follow The Strain, the first book of The Strain Trilogy. I read in an article that del Toro wanted to the tv show originally, couldn't find a network, wrote the books to tell the story and is now getting the chance to actually do the show all the way through. See kids, dreams can come true.

Book Description

A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Ephraim "Eph" Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing.

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city - a city that includes his wife and son - before it is too late.

Instead of actually doing a full book review or season review that might spoil you, I’m just gonna talk about a few things that lend better to either the show or the book. All images are promotional material from before the show aired or from the first episode. Content warning for below the cut: blood, gore and violence. 

The Characters

For the most part the characters are the same in the book and the show (‘Team Vampire Hunters’ pictured above), a few live longer or start appearing in the show when they don’t come in until the second book, but in some ways I think this worked better on the show. The book has A LOT of different POVs to deal with as it tries to get the plot across which really lends itself better to visual than just reading. But this means the internal dialogue is lost in translation and means so, so much more exposition with one person telling a story happens in the show.

The Plot

The book is really good at moving things along in an efficient and attention grabbing manner, something the show has a hard time with. It may just be that thirteen episodes gave too much time elaboration on flashbacks and the characters issues or I may have been expecting a bit more excitement to go on. The book seems to have a better horror flow of things starting out normal, having a crisis that doesn’t seem at all what it is, and then escalating from there. The show instead has bursts of forward motion followed by several very slow, and slightly boring episodes.

The World Building

The Vampire mythology in both the book and the show is the same and is really quite interesting to learn about through the flashbacks, memories, or exposition by Abe. If you’re tired of the run of the mill vampire tale definitely check out either the book or the show as both explain in good detail. The only difference I’d say is the first book doesn’t gives as much background as fast as the show did. I think that’s a good thing looking ahead to season two it can focus maybe not so much on the past and get the apocalypse rolling.

The Gross

Reading horror/gore is so very different from seeing the special effects of guts and gore and projectile tongue things. While I happened to be reading the book as the first two episodes were airing so I used those as reference points the shock value of the show’s gore is a lot to handle at times. If you’re someone that is all about blood and hearts in jars then this show has got loads of it.

What do you think? Have you read both the book and the show and picked one you prefer more?

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