The Strain is the first book in a horror trilogy by crime novelist Chuck Hogan and acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro.The first book chronicles the arrival of an airplane at JFK airport filled with dead bodies drained of their blood. Dr. Ephraim Goodweather of the CDC is called in to investigate, but is baffled by the virus that seems to have killed these people. That is until a old man provides him with information that this not a virus, but another V-Word: Vampire.Followed by two sequels: The Fall released in 2010 and The Night Eternal in 2011. The book is being adapted into a TV show by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, The Strain TV Series.
Blind Seer: A group of blind children are turned to create good trackers.
Big Applesauce: When evil heads to the New World, which city will he land at? The book explains this to some extent - although New York is an island, inconvenient if you can't cross flowing water without being invited, it has a vast underground system perfect for hiding in. It's also implied that the Master, a spirit of evil and destruction, is attracted to the site of the World Trade Center where so many died.
Body Horror: The transformation from human to vampire is quite detailed, including how the lungs are turned inside out to form the stinger.
But What About The Astronauts?: Global Vampire attacks prevent NASA from retrieving the three astronauts on ISS. The American astronaut provides commentary on the state of the world from above while Ground Control provides exposition on the state of the rest of the world.
Captain's Log: Eph's Diary and Fet's Blog provide a bit of emotional insight and additional exposition.
Coincidental Broadcast: In "The Fall", even though vampire outbreaks are occurring all over the world, Eph's arrest still makes the news, just so our heroes can learn about it.
Actually, Eph is a wanted criminal because of events in "The Strain", where he is falsely charged with murder and stealing dead bodies, as part of the cover-up allowing the Master to dominate New York. Eph is also a prominent figure because he uploads the first footage of a vampire, which is regarded as a hoax, since no-one fully understands the situations unfolding worldwide, or they are covered up. Factor in that he tried to shoot the richest man in the world in "The Fall", and his arrest would make the news.
Collector of the Strange : As a pawnbreaker Setrakian has many strange things, but then you get down to his basement and see that he has kept a vampire heart alive in a jar by pricking his finger every day among many other things.
Former Luchadore the Silver Angel gets a similar moment in the same scene; he dons his old mask, charges into the fight between Setrakian and the Master, and effectively slaps the latter across the face with his old signature move, which is amazing given the Master's speed.
Expy: The Goth rock star, Gabriel Bolivar, seems to be based on Marilyn Manson, with the exception that Bolivar is described as being very handsome.
Center for Disease Control Director Everett Barnes' resemblance to Colonel Sanders is likely based on former Surgeon General Everett Koop.
As an evil old rich guy with failing health who has spent years searching for the secret to vampiric immortality, Eldritch Palmer has a lot in common with Dieter de la Guardia, the villain from del Toro's debut film Cronos.
Full-Frontal Assault: Several of the vampires that escape from the morgue have their clothes removed. One of them is a fat guy who gets in a fight with Gus.
Fate Worse than Death: Setrakian dumps a Nazi vampire in the bottom of the sea after removing his limbs, where he'll be stuck forever.
First Father Wins: Played painfully straight with Matt in The Strain. Matt is painted as a milquetoast coward, works to divide Kelly and Eph and his thinking Eph's crazy and trying to get attention leads to both he and Kelly staying in New York and dying. His ultimate turning and destruction by Eph was probably the closest you can get to outright murdering of a "substitute father" without actually feeling guilt.
Homage: To Dracula; the famous scene in Bram Stoker's novel when the Demeter, a Russian ship, runs aground crewless in England is updated in this novel to a Boeing 777 which inexplicably shuts down completely shortly after landing.
The Master's going to New York is an homage to Dracula's going to London.
I Have Your Wife: It doesn't end well. She is infected by the Master and turned against her family.
Justified Trope: Unlike Twilight, every break from traditional conceptions of vampires is explained. Religious artifacts have no effect, but when vampires were first known to the world in the middle ages, the church used them as an oportunity to increase their own power by saying only God could kill them. Garlic is ineffective, but its usefullness in folk remedies and its unpleasant smell gave rise to the belief. Their stinger leaves only a small, thin slit, but Head Hunters are shown to execute humans with long, vaguely fang-like iron spikes, making two wounds to the neck appear as a bite. They don't turn into bats and wolves, but before houses had basements and cellars, they would hid in caves near towns, driving the animals in them out into the town. A similar effect happens in New York, but with rats
Large and in Charge: The Master is two and half meters tall. After his body is damaged he takes Bolivar's.
"Mr. Quinlan", the Ancients' head... headhunter, is described as being very large.
To be fair, Quinlan is a half-breed created by The Master feeding on but not killing a pregnant woman in ancient Rome.
Vasily Fett is described as "filling the doorway."
Angel Hurtado, a former wrestler is also very large.
The name is also a hack on that of a not-particularly-benign plutocrat from P.K. Dick's The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.
As an extra bonus, the company Palmer owns is called the Stoneheart Group. Not quite as blatant, but you'd think an image consultant would suggested changing it to something that makes them sound less like The Heartless.
Our Vampires Are Different: While they are disposed by sunlight and silver, religious artifacts have no effect. Setrakian notes how many vampire myths are based on common misconceptions. A vampire doesn't have fangs, but a long stinger. They can't turn into animals like bats and rodents, but drive such animals from their dwellings. They aren't invisible in mirrors, but - on silver-backed mirrored surfaces - appear to be shaking, allowing them to be instantly identified.
In-universe, Mr. Quinlan. He lacks the blood-worms, and is identified as unique by his masters. this, as of yet unexplained, uniqueness saved him from dying with all the other non-Brood vampires at the end of The Fall.
In "The Night Eternal", Quinlan's backstory is explained pretty thoroughly. The Master was an quasi-adviser to Caligula, and as such had anything he desired, including a below-ground chamber where he fed on virgins. When Caligula's reign was toppled, The Master was in the process of feeding off a pregnant woman, who subsequently escaped. Quinlan was born as a half breed, known as The Born. The Lumen mentions other Borns, who would have been destroyed when The Master set off the nukes of the other six Ancient Ones at the end of "The Fall".
Sexual Extortion: Dr. Barnes offers Nora a job at his mansion to get her and her mother out of the concentration camp; however, he makes it pretty obvious what kind of 'service' he expects from her.
Shout-Out: Abraham Setrakian, a former proffesor from East Europe, a call back to Abraham Van Helsing of Dracula
And of course, as noted above, Eldritch Palmer is a none-too-subtle shout-out to Philip K. Dick.
Shown Their Work: Chuck Hogan certainly did his research about rat trapping, the distribution of fuel tanks in the Boeing 777, cutting tool brands and types, and the intricacies of getting into a biohazard suit. At times borders on Technology Porn.
Then leans into the outright comical when he decides the audience needs to be told what tort law and solar eclipses are.
Smug Snake: The Master who despises humans and even the other Ancients. His arrogance causes occasional setbacks for his masterplan.