The Night Eternal

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Night Eternal
Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, 2011

Premise: Sequel to The Strain and The Fall. Two years have passed since the events of The Fall, and the global Vampire-pocalypse is in full swing. Eph, Nora, Fet and Gus continue to try to fight the Master, but unless they find his origin site, no victory is possible. Eph has an additional problem: the Master still holds his son Zack captive.

Well, nuts.

There is a trope, in which a previously fine character goes off the deep end, suicidal depression, betraying the heroes, etc., only to have pull him or herself together at the eleventh hour to save the day. It can be done in a way that makes sense, that inspires sympathy and understanding from the audience. Okay, I can't actually think of an example like that just now, but I'll believe it can happen. However, most of the time it just makes me want to shake the character violently until they stop being idiotic.

In case you haven't guessed yet, I did not really enjoy The Night Eternal.

It was still decently written, and there were aspects that worked, scenes that were strong, and some backstory that was interesting. But given that I really didn't care at all about Eph at this point, a lot of the angsting was really boring to me.

It's really too bad, because I liked all the characters in the first book. And maybe it's “realistic” to have people go to that level of character decay (it's harder to make that case for the inevitable recovery, though). But it's not interesting.

Maybe it's not interesting because I feel like the fall happened between books, (although I don't remember the end of The Fall very clearly) so it's as though the character's just been replaced with a less interesting doppleganger.

The saving grace of this book, such as it has, is that many of the other characters are still awesome. Fet is still quietly smart, laconic and driven. Gus is colorful, brave and passionate. Quinlan is badass, and we finally get his backstory, which is pretty cool, if not terribly original.

The origin of the vampires in revealed as well, which, for me, was original to the point of WTF. At this point, the balance between science and magic that I liked so much in the earlier books is abandoned completely, which I found really disappointing.

Also certain sections crossed my personal lines of “stuff I really just don't want to read about and will never forgive a character, and/or sometimes an author, for.” Spoiler: the animal cruelty in Zack's plot makes him irredeemable in my eyes, and that pushed me even farther away from caring about Eph's desire for his son. I didn't think the plot was handled well enough to justify stuff that felt "shocking" for the sake of being shocking.

I'm glad I read it, I think, but it left me really unsatisfied.


2 Stars – An Okay Book

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