Review: The Passage

The Passage
The Passage by Justin Cronin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Addendum to review: I really loved this book. But after writing my review, I read some of the others, and found a large spread, which leads to an overall rating of about 4.0. Reading them, I was struck by the different expectations of the reviewers/readers. Some objected to it’s length, over 700 pages, and some found it dull at times, or with uneven pacing. Let me clear this up with my thoughts on it. This book is not guts and glory, blood and gore (although that’s not such a bad thing at times). It is not your typical vampire/zombie book. It is the journey of the intertwining lives of several people, over a space of time and place. At first it starts out with how. Then moves on to the journey they take, and then the why. You don’t have to believe in God, I don’t, but I think it helps if you believe in some uniting thing, like humanity, “the Force,” or simply cosmic threads that interweave – the Butterfly Effect, or even Kismet, fate, etc. It is both a metaphysical journey in places as well as the personal journeys of these people. Its companion book, “The Twelve,” both a prequel and sequel combined, says on the back that it was a top ten book for 2010 for Time and Library Journal, as well as one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post, Esquire, U.S. News and World Reports, NPR, etc. So my stance on it is in good company. But if you are cautious about exploring new avenues, I encourage you to read the other reviews as well, to get a feel for the divergent views on this book, ranging from 1 star to 5. Since they all balance out to 4 stars, I’d say the majority gave it a high rating.

This over 700 page book took me 5 days to read – a rec ord, since I read for hours each night. But it was worth it. A tour de force, in a undead-vampire hybrid book. It starts out with the story of a military experiment gone awry, which quickly escalates into chaos that collapses the U.S. and possibly the world. Left are at least one pocket of survivors. Most of the book focuses on the group – how it came to be, and some central characters, strongly delineated, that stood at the heart of the book – ones that wanted to know, not just survive. Among them was “Amy” a young girl, maybe 13, who arrived at the Colony walls one day, about 100 years after the virus came and wiped out most of the population. Where she came from, how she got there, how she survived was a question she couldn’t answer. She didn’t speak. But some realized that she was different – that she radiated a power and a peace about her, and were determined to protect her at all costs. This led to a dangerous journey from southern California to Colorado – to the heart of where it all began, and finally down south to Texas. Sweeping, majestic, full of hope, human triumphs and failure, it is the most upbeat book on a world of chaos, which is why I didn’t classify it as “dystopian,” even though things are not rosy. Much is gone and most are barely hanging on, knowledge lost. But throughout the book, the message is clear – that if you open your mind and heart, answers will come, and things will get better. It delves deeply into each of the twelve that started out – with complex interpersonal relations, secrets, and yet abiding deep friendships. A must-read. Not sure how I missed this book that graced a large number of best books lists of 2010.

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2 responses to “Review: The Passage

  1. This sounds like a really interesting book. I like the way you described it. Based on your review, this is a book that I would read.

  2. Then I did my job!