Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Passage

 I should start by apologizing.  If I've talked to you in the last couple of weeks, chances are high that you've already heard me extolling the virtues of Justin Cronin's new novel The Passage.  It's not my fault that this book is unputdownable, that the story spans decades, that I was held captive by the plot twists and character development.  The only downside is that the book is over 750 pages; this could be construed as a positive, as the length allows you to get incredibly involved in the story and build up the anticipation.  But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.
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.


  1. Finished this book last night and was baffled by the ending. Didn't know it was part of a trilogy. Can't imagine two more tomes like this one!! I read a bunch of comments on the ending on Amazon so I'm not the only one a little let down. Like "Hunger Games" -- this one is a bit disturbing! Still..... I did finish it. Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. You're not the first person to say they were disappointed by the ending; I also felt it was a bit abrupt. Parts of the book dragged, but overall, the concept is so interesting and the characters so great, that I liked it anyway!