If you like: **spoilers**Vampires *Trilogies * God
The Night Eternal is the final book of The Strain Trilogy. (See my reviews of The Strain and The Fall.) The book takes place two years after the end of The Fall. The first two books detailed the discovery of the vampire strain, and the research into its destruction. The third book focuses on the total collapse of society, and the eventual defeat of the Master and his vampire progeny.
The story of Zachary Goodweather takes an interesting turn in this book. At the end of book two, we see he is about to be captured by his vampire mother. We suspect that, like her, he will be turned by the Master and used as a tool against his father. Zack is changed, but not into a vampire. The Master has cultivated Zack as his successor, and turned him from a bright and curious boy into a broody teen with no moral frame of reference. Ephraim Goodweather believed that his son being turned was the worst of all outcomes, but he learns the corruption that has taken place is in fact much worse. If his son were just a vampire, it would be easy for Ephraim to release him. Instead, he slowly realizes that his son is unsaveable, but not an inhuman monster that can be destroyed guiltlessly. Many parents worry about the consequences of their child falling in with the wrong crowd, and Zack is an extreme lillustration of just how much harm that can cause.
The Night Eternal differed from the first two books of the trilogy in its portrayal of science and religion. The first book is very focused on using science and research to understand the cause of the mutations and discover a way to cure the infection. Ephraim Goodweather is one of the lead investigators for the CDC, and it is his knowledge and skill that leads the main resistance to survive. The second book focuses on what he has learned, as well as the lifetime of research by Abraham Setrakian. All of the tools that are used against the vampires are the result of research and testing. The characters' own skills are the only thing they need to survive. In the third book this changes. Ephraim becomes unhinged—his background and history are totally irrelevant, and he has become almost useless in his despair. Rather than relying on their skills and abilities, the resistance fighters rely on luck and interventions from God. It is mentioned many times in the first two books that the world has become godless, and that there is no longer a place for religion in society. Then, in The Night Eternal, we see direct intervention. Ephraim doesn't figure out how to read the Occido Lumen, a text compiled as an instruction manual for destroying the Master, he has a vision in which God shows him the answers. Fighting skills and research are not what makes their rescue of Nora from the blood camp a success, it is the voice of God telling the last survivor on the space shuttle it is time to take it down. This really weakened the series for me. These characters did not have to be the best at what they did in order to succeed. I think that with a few changes, this could have been avoided. The Occido Lumen could still be complied with its religious nature, and share the word of God, but the characters could have discovered how to interpret it on their own without a vision. Ephriam could have remained a flawed character without completely losing his sense of self.
Overall, I found this to be a really interesting story. There was a lot of depth and detail to the mythology, and the imagery of the world in captivity is arresting. I would recommend the series, but the first book is the strongest of the three. My complaints do not mean this isn't a great book. I found it wasn't completely cohesive as a conclusion to the series, but it is good on its own.
If you are looking for a vampire story where the humans win at a great cost, and fate plays a main role, read The Strain Trilogy.
Hogan, Chuck and Guillermo Del Toro. "The Night Eternal" (Guillermo Del Toro, Chuck Hogan). New York: HarperCollins, 2011. Epub edition.