Knowing was the worst part. Awareness of insanity does not make one any less insane. Awareness of drowning does not make one any less of a drowning person—it only adds the burden of panic.
The Night Eternal (The Strain #3)
Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan | 2011 | 371 Pages
My how the world has changed since the devastating events of The Fall. Two years have passed, the Strigoi have gone full Nazi, and (most of) our intrepid heroes are still trying to fight the good fight. As the Lumen begins to unfold its secrets, an endgame takes shape. Who lives, who dies, and what will become of New York City and the greater world?
Many books can’t pull off a time jump, but thankfully that was not the case in this instance. By setting the novel years after the previous events readers are able to see an immediate contrast between a world run by humans versus one controlled by the iron fist of the Master. There is no slow build, no crawling descent, you are instantly plunged into a very different, and very terrifying version of New York City. On top of that, there are peaks into outside locations. While the show feels very insular, the books reference other places, making the Strigoi really feel like a global crisis.
Furthermore, the character progressions felt natural, and we got more Quinlan and he’s pretty awesome. Everyone continues to do their part to end the menace, but in their own way and with their own means. Gus is basically a ninja, Fet carries the Setrakian torch all the way to Iceland, and Ephraim just mopes, but at least it’s a believable moping. The placement of the different protagonists allows the full changes of the world to be realized. What is being done about the humans? How are they handled? What has happened to civilization, media, technology? I really enjoyed the time jump, and I’m a little sad that we probably won’t be seeing it on the television iteration- for one, there are major discrepancies between who is alive, dead, or totally made up on the FX Series. Secondly, there is only one season left, and I’m just not sure enough pieces have fallen into place to make the time jump, and the rest of the events in The Night Eternal, make sense.
I wanted to see more of the mythology. The Night Eternal tells us the story of the Ancients and where they came from. It dives into the history of Mr. Quinlen and of the concept of the Born. It is mystical, fantastical, and rooted in religious stories.
…But there isn’t enough of it, and it makes the ending itself feel rushed and well within the territory of deus ex machina. On top of that, there are plot holes that are never addressed, and it ended up being not as good as it could have been. This is a commentary on the series as a whole, and not just on the final piece by the way. The concept of visions, and angels, and everything else should have been present earlier. The build up took too long, and when the final page turned there were plot points that felt like hurried cop outs.
Plus the stupid “epilogue” chapter had some crap in it that was just no. Why are jump ahead Epilogues such garbage? I’m looking at you Deathly Hallows. Whatever, I’m like 90% alright with all of the people who lived and died, so that’s cool.
Should You Read This?
If you’ve made it this far I don’t know why you wouldn’t finish up the trilogy. It resolves the saga, answers a lot of unanswered questions, and creates a mythology that honestly left me wanting more even though the ending wasn’t the best.
The series as a whole was quite a strange thrill ride, and if you’re looking for some weird horror novels that actually aren’t that scary (which is not a complaint!) I would grab these and breeze through them. And in case you’re wondering, I would recommend the books over the television show every time. The tone is just very different between the two and I preferred this medium, plot holes and all.