Review: The Night Eternal – Third Book in the Strain Trilogy

The Story

Taking place two years after the vampiric plague took over the world, Dr. Goodweather and his co-horts are still in the struggle against the Master.  Goodweather is still looking for his son Zack, kidnapped by the strigoi.  Desperation has set in (for all of them) and someone in their midst will do what it takes to survive, even if it means betraying humanity to do it.

Painful Plot Advancement

Things looked pretty bleak at the end of the second book (The Fall).  Nora, Goodweather’s girlfriend and CDC co-colleague, loses Ephraim’s son Zack to the now turned ex-wife Kelly.  Key characters also died by the end of the second book, in their final struggle with the Master vampire.

This final book in the series picks up years later after those events and we find our characters in very different places from where we left them.  Ephraim Goodweather is just a shell of himself, the kidnapping of his son has taken a great toll on him and he’s begun to be a danger to his fellow resistors.  Nora Martinez is Ephraim’s girlfriend, but with Goodweather so withdrawn from the world, she and the rat catcher Fet have found comfort in each other.  Speaking of Vasiliy Fet. Fet has been globetrotting, in search of weapons that will help fight off the vampire menace once and for all.  He’s found a few things that might be just what the doctor ordered.  New and old characters are introduced and the stakes grow larger rather than smaller.  Even fewer will survive this time.  The Night Eternal indeed.

A Turn For The Metaphysical

So much big stuff is revealed in this last book that it’s quite hard to tiptoe around things without spoiling just a little bit.  I can’t help, but mention this tidbit though as it’s the most fascinating revelation in the direction the writers have taken the material.  Throughout the last two books, Del Toro and Hogan have been very clinical and scientific in their description and handling of the vampire myth.  Much of that remains in the third book, but a new layer has been added.  A layer that some may very probably be pissed off about.  The book takes a turn for the mystical with the vampire story.  Whereas our previous understanding of the creatures was all based on things that we can imagine happening in real life, mutations of science, and of existing precedent.  Del Toro throws a right hook to our brain and ask us to think bigger; to things we cannot explain.  Concepts of fate, ordainment, biblical visions, miracles, God, angels.  All of that is introduced to us, and in a wholly original way.  Very unexpected, but all quite interesting.

If you’ve seen the Alex “Dark City” Proyas film Knowing, then you have some idea (and you don’t) of what to expect. In the Proyas film, biblical prophecies of the end of times are reinterpreted by mixing them with scientific concepts and understandings.  Chuck and Guillermo take an even more radical approach with their new mythology.

The team has managed to take the vampiric canon and breathe some real long lasting life into it.  Del Toro set out to reinvent the creatures and I’d say he succeeded resoundingly.

Final Thoughts on Finality

It’s been a long journey since the events of the first book.  We’ve experienced every emotion with these characters and survived, just barely.  I only finished reading the final lines a mere hours ago, but already I miss them.  From Setrakian to The Born.  Nora to Kelly.  Fet and Creed…er..Creem.  It’s sad to see their stories over.

Guillermo is a sucker for melodramatic endings, that and killing off characters we really care about.  Guilty again, on both counts.  We thank him for it.

Conclusion

B+ for storytelling and characterizations

A for concept and myth building

Overall a B+

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Maurice
Original surviving founder of Fanboy Confidential, the podcast, and this supporting website. This is the fruit of his labor, created while on his off days from saving orphaned children from forest fires. Only some of this is true.

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