The Night Eternal (Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan)

The Night Eternal is the third novel in The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.
Finished on: 22.1.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other two books.]

Plot [with SPOILERS for the previous books]:
It’s been two years since the Master’s plan was made reality and the earth has sunken into nuclear winter. Now there are only a few hours every day where the sunlight is strong enough to keep vampires from venturing outside; and most of humanity is enslaved. Nevertheless, there are still pockets of human resistance. Ephraim Goodweather is keeping his distance from the rest of his group, though, consumed by his alcoholism and the search for his son Zach who was adopted by the Master. Meanwhile, Vasiliy Fet and Nora Martinez are trying to decipher the Occido Lumen, an old book that may hold the key to their salvation.

The Strain was a strong start to the trilogy, The Fall a disappointing middle and now The Night Eternal is the really bad conclusion. Any charm that still carried over from The Strain to The Fall was lost for me in The Night Eternal.

As befits the final installment of a series, The Night Eternal closes some gaps that it had left open thus far. One of those gaps is the background of Quinlan – which unfortunately was filled to the brim with stereotypes, misogyny and racism. Not only is Quinlan infertile and thus unable “to claim a woman as his own”, but when he does get a (exoticized brown) wife, it only takes two paragraphs until she is fridged and described as savage. (I tweeted about it here.) And that’s only two short bits of a much longer story.

This book also drops any pretense that we might deal with a scientific event here (which was the thing I loved the most about the original conception of the vampires) and goes the whole way to religious fervor. Which is not bad per se, but when you love something because it finds entirely unfantastic explanations for a supernatural creature, only to have it end with angels ascending to heaven (literally), that’s disappointing to say the least.

And since neither the story itself, nor the characters in it (Nora as usual being sidelined by the plot, Ephraim being insufferable, Quinlan destroyed by his backstory and Vasiliy being problematic as fuck) grabbed my attention, the quality of the writing took center stage – and it is definitely not strong enough to carry all that load.

Honestly, I just finished the book because I had already invested so much time in the story and was being a completist. I probably shouldn’t have.

Summarizing: If I had known that was what I’d get from the story, I never would have started with the trilogy at all.

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