The Passage (The Passage, #1)by Justin Cronin Published 08 Jun 2010
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An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.
"The Passage (The Passage, #1)" Reviews
At the start of this book I was pretty sure it would be a 5* read. In the middle I was losing the will to read on and thought it would do well to wring 3* from me. By the end I give it a hearty 3* but just can't bring myself to offer 4.
So, this is a vampire book without the sparkling, the forever sexy trope, or the stalker-horror vibe.
Cronin's writing reminded me a lot of Stephen King, though with a more literary edge (which is not to say that King doesn't have a literary edge ... he does, and in many ways it's his popular success that blinds a lot of 'serious' readers to King's writing chops).
Cronin writes very good prose. He is rather too wordy for my taste and spends too long getting around to things, but he writes some excellent lines and has a poet's sensibilities.
The book comes in many sub divisions but for me it breaks into three main parts. First there is the pre-disaster section where we dive in great detail into the lives of a handful of protagonists while slowly bringing them together for the "vampire stuff". The amount of time spent on these individuals makes you sure that they are going to be the pillars of this story. Which makes it rather a shock when you suddenly leave them all behind and start off with an entirely new and larger set of characters far away in time and space.
The second section, the colony, is where I started to lose interest. There were just so many characters and so few reasons for me to care about them. Additionally the point of view hops around between them regularly, which I found distancing and made it hard for me to attach to anyone.
I found this section particularly wordy and slow moving. Cronin is using these people and their detailed individual stories to indirectly paint a larger picture of the world we find ourselves in ... I understand that. And if it had been half the length with the focus on half the characters I would have been much more taken with it.
As it was it was a great relief when things started to go tits up and the roll call began to diminish rapidly.
The third and final section is the quest, and here I found myself much more invested. The interest level started to climb along with the tension, and I was pleased with myself to have predicted the existence of something that I felt was the literary inheritor of "the new warren" from Watership Down.
Even so, the pace was still sluggish and Cronin takes an age to get us anywhere.
Some will say that this is a book about characters rather than plot, and that's fair enough. I like character driven stories. I like stories about characters. It's just that in this particular book I found the plot far more interesting than the characters.
And finally, the book ends. But not with an great deal of resolution. It's very much a book 1 of a series (trilogy?). I can only think that some of the massive character building at the start of the book, that then vanished down a hole never to be spoken of again, may come to fruition in later books ... I'm looking at you Carter.
So yeah... Strong literary writing, a great imagination, but just too very many multitudinous words, too slowly meanderingly point failing to get toingly ponderously paced for this particular reader.
EDIT: And one small but crazy detail ... the only curse word they seem to own is fliers. I don't know if the editors were aiming for a PG rating but with so much time taken to build believable characters the dialogue seemed laughably clean and the appearance of "fliers" grew steadily more comical.
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Epic . . . very, very Epic!
I feel like I just read about 5 books. Not because it was long, but just because there is so much story here that changes direction so many times. I cannot believe there are still two books to go . . . I mean, I can believe it because there is more story to tell, but how much more epic can this get!?
4.5 out of 5 stars
This one lost a little for me in the middle due to a blah transition that caused me to lose interest for a period of time. Looking back after knowing what happened, it makes sense, but it was slow for a bit. So, if you are reading this review before you read the book, know that you should not give up if you get bored in the middle . . . this too shall pass!
In addition to being epic, this was great story telling. And, despite the size, there really wasn’t filler. Each page, each paragraph, each sentence had its place and kept the story moving (even during the blah part!). From deep, meaningful conversations to gore-filled action sequences, the story was always moving on to the next place and had me hungry to find out what was next.
If you like post-apocalyptic and monster stories, but need a new twist and are not afraid to invest a lot of time, you should read this. I guarantee that you will enjoy it!
Good afternoon. This is Wolf Blitzer from CNN’s The Situation Room, the program that tries to make viewers think that you’re seeing the busy hub of television journalism instead of admitting that despite our high-tech looking set and satellite feeds, you’d probably learn more about what’s actually going on in the world by looking out your window.
We turn our focus now to growing rumors that the U.S. Army is conducting secret medical experiments on American soil. The bizarre claims seem like something out of a Stephen King novel yet despite repeated denials by the Defense Department the stories continue to grow, and documents posted on WikiLeaks seem to support some of this.
Is this just an urban myth gaining popularity thanks to the internet, or is there something to these rumors? Joining me now via satellite from his office is Major John Smith, a spokesman from the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. Major, thanks for joining us.
Major John Smith: Thanks for having me.
Wolf Blitzer: So I’m sure you’re aware of these persistent stories circulating, Major.
MJS: *laughs* Yes, they’re keeping my office quite busy.
WB: And the Army’s position is that they’re absolutely unfounded?
MJS: Of course. Frankly, Wolf, I’m surprised we even have to bother discussing this. It’s obviously the work of internet hoaxsters.
WB: But what about the documentation that’s leaked out?
MJS: They are clearly forgeries. Have you read this stuff? Secret bases on U.S. soil? Convicted felons recruited and used for guinea pigs for drug trials to extend human life? Vampire-like creatures that have some kind of telepathic connection and cause bad dreams? I think someone just posted an old X-Files script. I find it sad that Americans are wasting time on this nonsense.
WB: It does seem outlandish, but let’s talk a few specifics. The documents mention a Project Noah that the USAMRIID is running. And there are line items in the USAMRIID budget for a Project Noah for a significant amount of money.
MJS: I can confirm that there is a Project Noah, and while it’s top-secret, I have been authorized to disclose that it involves research into cutting edge medical technologies that could be used to save more lives on the battlefield. That’s all I can say about it. But it’s obvious that these conspiracy theorists just took a real project name and used it for their own purposes.
WB: So there never was a research team funded by USAMRIID that was slaughtered in the jungles of Central America while seeking a virus sample that could greatly boost human healing abilities?
MJS: Of course not. Unfortunately, we did have a team in that area that was researching a botany project, and they did sustain casualties after accidentally coming across some local drug runners, but that’s all it was.
WB: And the USAMRID does not have government agents recruiting death row prisoners to be the subjects of experimental drug trials?
MJS: Again, that’s ridiculous.
WB: So where have these prisoners gone, Major?
MJS: Considering they were death row inmates, I think it’s safe to say they got executed.
WB: I assume you’ll also deny the existence of this secret lab, hidden somewhere underground in the Rocky Mountains?
WB: What about reports from Telluride, Colorado, of citizens having the same nightmares and behaving strangely?
MJS: Complete nonsense. I’m based in Telluride myself, and I sleep just fine.
WB: One last question, Major. A new wave of rumors regarding a small girl in Memphis being abducted by government agents have begun circulating today. Any comment?
MJS: The idea that the US Army had anything to do with abducting children is absurd, Wolf. Think about these stories. Does it really seem possible that the U.S. government has a secret base in Colorado where we’re experimenting with a virus on convicts and small children that turns them into some kind of Dracula-type creature with the ability to invade dreams and brainwash people. Seriously, what’s next? I’m sure the people who believe that will tell you that it’s inevitable that some kind of accident will unleash the virus on an unsuspecting public, and that the country will be consumed by a plague of these creatures until civilization is completely destroyed. And then what? Maybe a small handful of survivors will manage to establish a safe zone and a new type of society? Oh, and a couple of generations down the line, like a hundred years from now, a few of these survivors will embark on an odyssey to find the truth in a post-apocalyptic landscape? Does that really seem likely, Wolf?
WB: *chuckles* When you put it that way, Major, it does seem pretty far fetched….
(Crashing noises and screams are heard.)
WB: Major, what’s happened? Are you alright?
MJS: Ugh.. I’m perfectly…Arr… fine, Wolf. Ow! Just..uh… just dropped a glass. Arrgh..
WM: Major, I don’t mean to argue with you, but it seems like some kind of horrible vampire-like creature has just burst into your office and is biting you.
MJS: That’s…UHH…totally ridiculous…. Oh, shit!…. Ow… This is … arrr… my assistant…. EH!.. He just has….owwww.. low blood sugar. Arrrghh…
WB: Well, you’re obviously busy, Major. We’ll let you go now. Thanks for your time.
MJS: My plesur… OWWWW!… HOLY JESUS SOMEBODY SHOOT THIS GODDAMN…..
WB: It appears we lost the link. So did we just see a US Army officer get his face gnawed off by a vampire-like creature that he had just finished denying the existence of? Or is this just another internet hoax? We may never know. Up next, global warming critics continue to say that the whole thing is a liberal lie.
Pretty cool!! 😊💕
Cronin combines two classic and overused literary elements--vampires and the end of the world--and spins them into something entirely fresh and new. To me, it's an amazing accomplishment.
Oh, The Passage. You promised me such wonderful things with your sparkly cover, your titillating title (a passage to WHERE??), and your massive hype. Also your sizable heft, as you are a large, obese book, full of words and things. I figured if I didn't like you, I could use you to stone evil-doers in some town square somewhere. How could I turn you down?
Your promises, though, were only partially fulfilled. While I enjoyed stoning people in the village square with you, your cover was simply too pretty to be true, and your title too vague to really *mean* anything. I still don't know what the passage was, but it was full of vampire-things and massive doses of character backstory that also didn't really *mean* anything... except make you a very, very heavy book. Brick-like, really. I believe next I'll tie a ransom note to you and throw you through a window, just for the giggles.
You had such lovely backstory, such vivid characters in your opening quarter, I couldn't put you down. Well, I could, because you are a fatass and my arms grew lethargic and weak after about an hour, but figuratively speaking. I was hooked, and I loved you for it. Vivid characters, shocking scenery, emotion. You had it all, baby.
But then things changed. Oh, did they change. You forgot your old ways and introduced me to a whole slew of new characters. Characters that I didn't care about, in a situation that seemed so distant and unreal compared to your sharply defined predecessors that I thought perhaps I was reading a different book. Gone were the late nights of voracious reading. Gone were my massive biceps developed from holding you at a readable height. I slogged through you, sometimes telling friends that you were "getting better," even daring to say "really good again" in whispered tones... but you would then disappoint, like a dog who is allergic to grass, and I would yell angrily at perfect strangers that you were a meandering, lame book with stupid characters and unbelievable situations. I finished you, though, because I had devoted a better part of the year reading you, and I had to see it through. Like climbing Everest, I just wanted to *breath* again, but I knew I had to finish you anyway.
And see you through I did, to an ending that only set you up for a sequel, likely full of more meaningless backstory and characters painstakingly developed over 100's of pages only to be forgotten or rendered unimportant. I did not spend 3 weeks reading you to get a cliffhanger, damnit. [email protected]#$ you, The Passage. [email protected]#$ you.
Goodbye, The Passage. You were a good workout, and my man-arms thank you. But you were bit of a slog and kind of boring. Sorry.