Friday, July 16, 2010

Book Review: The Passage

The Passage by Justin Cronin (web site)
Genre: horror, apcocalyptic
Publisher: Ballantine, June 8, 2010
Hardcover 766 pages

From Goodreads:
"It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born."

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

With The Passage, award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterful prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.
From the Publisher (Random House)

So my first thoughts on this novel are what a great read this was! It's the first time in awhile that I've lost myself in a story. I found myself caring deeply for the characters and praying for their salvation (though you know some of them are gonna die along the way). This book has frequently been compared to Stephen King's The Stand and I'm going to have to strongly agree here. Two comparisons that immediately come to mind are...shared dreams/visions and a wise, old, woman. The Passage's Auntie reminded me so much of Mother Abigail ("I'm 106 years old, and I still makes my own bread."). Like other great apocalyptic reads, there is that desire to know what is still left of the world. In the case of Mary (The Forest of Hands and Teeth) and Peter (The Passage), they want to know about the ocean. Their desire to discover the unknown, even at the risk of losing their lives, is all consuming.

I like the way Cronin drops clues along the journey. I have my own theories of the significance of Amy's Peter the can't be coincidence.

My only true complaint with The Passage is the confusion I felt when the book jumps ahead about 100 years into the future and describes life in the survivor's colony.  The book goes into a lot of detail on the rules of the new society and the roles of the inhabitants. It was the one time I wished I hadn't been reading it on a Kindle, as I would have been flipping back and forth trying to refresh my memory on who was who and from what family they came from.

Another awesome novel that ranks right up there with The Passage and The Stand is Robert McCammon's The Swan Song. What sets this book apart from the other two is that the world ends with a nuclear disaster ...the world is a wasteland. If you've read The Road by Cormac McCarthy then you know what I mean.

I've been reading on the internet that The Passage is the first book in a trilogy-wow, that's pretty ambitious considering the whopping size of this one! With that said, the book ends with somewhat of a cliff-hanger but it's still a satisfying conclusion. I'm really looking forward to his second installment.


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