FX’s The Strain

Last night The Strain premiered on FX and it did not disappoint.  The Strain is adapted from the book series written by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan.  I have not read any of the books nor did I come into this show with much knowledge about it.  I knew it was about vampires and that’s about it.

The show starts out with a plane getting ready to land.  When the airport tower tries to contact the plane during landing the controller doesn’t get a response.  He then sees that the plane is sitting on the runway with nothing running.  After initial investigation by the control tower, many government officials and agencies converge on the scene with the CDC taking ultimate control.  Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, a/k/a Eph, and a team member, outfitted in haz-mat suits, board the plane to check things out.  They find all the passengers are dead.  Further investigation under black lights show all kinds of fluids on the planes interior as well as passengers.  Eph’s team member, Nora, checks out the front of the plane while he heads for the back.  While Nora is looking around the cockpit door opens (never a good sign).  Nora goes in to take a look and suddenly the pilot opens his eyes.  Ends up that four passengers survived while all others are dead.  The CDC moves all the bodies to a refrigerated area so they can continue their investigation.

We get glimpses into the Master and the people who, I’m assuming, are his caretakers.  The best part was during the medical examiner scene.  Gross and creepy highlighted by a musical choice of Sweet Caroline with a beating heart.

I think the biggest complaint about this show will be that it has some typical clichés – the crazy guy who knows what’s going on, the main character whose life is falling apart and that story is easily forgotten,  etc.  I’m fine with all of that.  The Strain brings back the creepy, scary vampire stories I liked to watch when I was a kid. It also gives a different take on vampirism being a virus rather than a blood sucking origin.  Vampires being a threat is the focus here, not how sexy and good-looking they can be.

I do think the show teters on the edge of being good vs being campy.  If someone other than Del Toro was involved,  it would most likely fall on the campy side. Luckily that’s not the case.  I’m intrigued by the virus plot and like having the CDC involved.   I’m also looking forward to finding out more about the Master and what he/it is all about.  I have the first book but will hold off on reading it until the season ends.  Not knowing what’s going to happen makes me look forward to future episodes and I’m hoping things only get better.  Anyone else watch this show?  What are your thoughts?

The Intern’s Handbook – Be warned, the intern is out to get you!

Interns aren’t really interns.  They are working as such to hide their real job of being deadly, trained assassins.  Yup that’s right – that intern who doesn’t say much and kind of keeps to himself, he’s killed a whole bunch of people and is plotting to add one more body to his list.  So watch out before he unleashes his skills upon you!

That’s what Shane Kuhn would have you believe in his book The Intern’s Handbook – a humorous, witty, fast paced, and slightly emotional read that I really enjoyed.  John Lago who works for HR, Inc., a placement agency that secretly places assassins posing as interns, is set to work on his last job.  He’s hit 25 and the-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-buttonin the intern world, 25 is old.  John’s last job is with one of New York’s most prestigious law firms and John needs to work his way up the ladder as fast as possible in order to filter out his main target from the top three partners in the firm.  As a parting gift, John has decided to leave his future fellow interns a handbook on how to be as successful as he’s been. Definitely not a run of the mill type of handbook, this one is far more interesting.

Lago provides a number of rules throughout the handbook – #3 Go Postal, #8 Jump, #13 Everything is a Weapon – and the back story to the rule.  The back stories are tales of prior hits and Lago’s overall bad-assedness.  Lago’s targets are all “really bad people” – human traffickers, sellers of witness protection lists, etc. – which makes him seem more of a sympathetic character.  John also gets involved with a coworker whom he comes to find out is also doing some pretending.

There are some unexpected twists towards the end of the book that gave the story that emotional jolt.  Overall a very enjoyable read – especially if you like your assassins to be on the likable side and to have a bit of a human element to them.  Not a deep book by any means, but one that I would recommend if you want a fun read.

Code Zero – A Weak Heartbeat

Discovering sequels or a follow-up to a book is always exciting.  You get to visit the characters you liked from the first book again and hope the author does a good job with the second (or subsequent) book.  I had read Patent Zero, the first book in the Joe Ledger series by Johnathan Maberry and made a mental note to add the Joe Ledger series to my “I’ll buy those one day” list.  One day I was checking out Mayberry’s website and found a follow-up to Patient Zero had come out: Code Zero.  I was excited about this went to the bookstore that weekend to buy a copy.  Unfortunately, the follow-up wasn’t the best.Code Zero - A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry

Code Zero deals with the DMS’s (Department of Military Services) cache of genetically modified viruses and the zombie virus encountered in Patient Zero and how those get infiltrated.  The viruses are unleashed to the public with the potential to cause massive panic and death.

Let’s start with the good: More of Joe Ledger.  Joe is an ex-cop, ex-military guy.  A bit macho for my usual taste but Maberry keeps the machoness to an acceptable amount and peppers in a bit of a level-headed guy traits as well;  The DMS .  The DMS is the super secret government agency that combats all the genetic freaks mad scientists and bad people come up with.  If you read my blog, you know I love my secret government agencies; Smart chicks that rock. Gotta love that and support my fellow chicks (even if they aren’t real).

the-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-buttonAnd now the not so good: The main villain, Mother Night, is supposed to be this super smart girl.  I found her to be an egomaniac that didn’t have the nerve to stand up for herself;  The flash back scenes.  In Code Zero, the flash back scenes come too often.  One character is portrayed as a fairly high up and integral person within the DMS but this character was never mentioned in the first novel (at least that I can recall).  This caused the book to have a lot of flash back chapters that, although short and did provide a good background, chopped up the main story too much.  Would have made more sense if this character would have been at least mentioned in the first book; Too much detail.  The fight scenes got a bit long for me and were told in too much detail.  It’s not necessary for Joe to describe what’s happening during a fight each and every time; The naivety of the DMS.  I found the villain connection to be blatantly obvious.  A department that is supposed to be super smart taking so long to figure things out was in line with the FBI of the t.v. show The Following.  Very disappointing and almost frustrating.

Overall, Code Zero was an Okay book.  I was hoping for a better story but just didn’t get one.  This book is the follow-up to Patient Zero and it does mention events that happened in other Joe Ledger stories. It didn’t take anything away from the book, but made me kind of wish I would have read the other J.L. books before this one.