Audiobook Review: The Night Eternal by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

2 12 2011

The Night Eternal by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan (The Strain, Book 3)

Read by Daniel Oreskes

Harper Audio

Length: 13 Hrs 54 Mins

Genre: Vampire Apocalypse/ Horror

Quick Thoughts: The Night Eternal, and the Strain trilogy in total, may not live up entirely to what I expected, but if you can trudge through the rough patches early in the novel you will be rewarded with a well plotted final confrontation which leaves the series on a high note.

Grade: B-

I remember when I first found out that a new post apocalyptic vampire series was coming out that I was quite excited. This series offered a lot of reasons to be excited, being that is was co-written by Guillermo Del Toro, director of some excellent movies including Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth, and Chuck Hogan, and excellent thriller writer who has also had some Hollywood success. To make things even better, the first novel of the series was being narrated by actor Ron Pearlman. Yet, when The Strain came out, I was a bit under whelmed. It was quite original, well narrated and full of some stunning images, but I just really didn’t connect with the story.  The Vampires were just too odd, and it just took me too long to adjust to the mythology. I did appreciate the novel, and enjoyed the historic interplay but it just didn’t grab me as I had expected. I chalked that initial reaction to the fact that is was the first book in a trilogy, and that is spent a lot of time building up a unique world and mythology. When book two came out, The Fall, I still didn’t really engage with the story, yet I began to become more attached to the characters. There was a side story in The Fall that dealt with a masked luchador named Angel that was excellent and probably saved the novel for me. The Fall changed narrators, which I was skeptical about, but the story tightened up, and I began to see that there was hope for a great finale. Still, I was skeptical. My overall feeling was that the final installment would make or break this series for me.

The Night Eternal is the final book of the trilogy. In the two years since the Strain was released, The Master has created a dystopic paradise for Vampires. For humans, well things pretty much suck. Humanity has been relegated to cattle, and the Vampires, and their human capitulators control all aspects of their lives. Our heroes from the first books, Eph, Vassily, Nora and Gus are still fighting to bring down The Master, yet their alliance is incredibly shaky. I need to be completely honest, the first half of The Night Eternal is brutal, and not in a good way. The characters are whiney and completely frustrating. Now, you’re in the midst of a Vampire Apocalypse so I don’t expect you to be singing Mary Poppins songs, but I found their bitterness and mistrust of each other to be quite petty. Eph, who son was kidnapped by the Master, is a borderline junkie and full on depressive. Worst, his friends are totally unsympathetic and, in my opinion, cruel towards him. He is beat up about being obsessed with his lost son, by people who have their own issues, including one who has his own Vampire mother chained in a secret chamber. If I wasn’t so invested in the characters and the story I may have given into my temptation to just stop listening. I’m glad I didn’t, because in the second half, things actually start to happen. The second half of this novel is excellent, full of action and brutal confrontations. There was even some heart touching moments. The highlight of the novel for me is the historic and mythological elements, giving us the story of how the Vampire came to be in a stunningly original way. The Night Eternal, and the Strain trilogy in total, may not live up entirely to what I expected, but if you can trudge through the rough patches early in the novel you will be rewarded with a well plotted final confrontation which leaves the series on a high note.

I was quite concerned and a bit disappointed when the switched narrators after the first book. I remember after listening to the second book feeling that Daniel Oreskes did a decent job replacing Ron Pearlman. I’m not sure what changed but I really struggled with his narration in The Night Eternal. His voice is nice enough, he just brought absolutely no energy to his reading. There was little to no attempts to differentiate between characters, outside of a random accent. I had a hard time with the any dialogue between Nora and the main characters because Oreskes voice for Nora basically matched his narrative voice. Sadly, Oreskes came off bored with the reading, like he was just plodding through the narrative, and I think that was a significant factor in my dislike of the first half of the book. So, perhaps, with a better, more energetic narrator, things may have been a bit better for me. Or maybe in print. If you are looking for an alternate view of the Print version of this novel, check out Jenn’s Bookshelves review of The Night Eternal.



One response

2 12 2011

Again, I have to comment that I love your blog and the genre you cover. I always check your site first and it is where I always find a great book. I agree wholly with your reviews of the Strain trilogy. The history of the “ancients” was quite interesting. I also felt that in the first book, the core group of characters was more likable. I rooted for them and enjoyed the little successes they made against utter devastation. Having been through so much, I knew that the group would become profoundly hardened. But, I had hoped, like in the first book, the group would continue to hold onto some type of bond. I was not surprised by the ending, of course. But I yearned (maybe naively) that Eph would have gotten his only wish a little earlier with a mutual feeling of family even with the same ending occurring. He deserved just a little bit more I thought. Wow, it just occurred to me that I must need a little sappiness thrown into my end-of-the-world horror books. Yet, if I read a review expressing that sentiment, I would probably avoid purchasing it. I also loved Ron Perlman as narrator.

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