Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The story begins 10-15 years in the future, close enough to make the events vaguely plausible and even spookier. A military experiment to create a super-soldier, one who can heal after devastating wounds or even deflect ammo, has taken a turn for the scary; the twelve death-row inmates who are being used for testing have turned into "virals." These creatures are bloodthirsty vampires, who are able to get into the minds of people, and quickly escape their military confinement and destroy humanity as we know it in a matter of a few years. The thirteenth patient, a young girl, was infected by the same virus, but holds the key to the survival of humankind.
Cut to 92 years into the future, and a small settlement of people have eked out a living in northern California. The lights that surround their village are failing, though, and a group of desperate humans have set out into a world unpopulated for decades to explore the vast unknown. They, along with the mysterious girl who has entered their lives, must trek through this brutal landscape to find the key to their own survival.
Cronin has done a masterful job of blending the literary aspects of the story with the supernatural. I have no problem admitting that there were one or two restless nights during the reading of this novel; the writing is so descriptive and set in our world that it's difficult to not get wrapped up in the goings-on. This isn't like the recent wave of vampire fiction- there is no hope for romance between humans and "virals." Instead, this is a mesmerizing struggle for survival in the face of unprecedented catastrophe. I really can't say enough great things about The Passage. If you can squeeze a nearly 800-page tome into your schedule, I highly recommend choosing this one.