THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin [Review]

The Passage by Justin Cronin isn’t your typical beach read, but it’s still poised to be the biggest book of the summer. Now that I’ve read it, I think it deserves all the hype that surrounds it and then some. The Passage is an ambitious, epic story that manages to be grounded in science, yet mystical at the same time. It grabbed me from the first page and wouldn’t let go.

The premise of The Passage is that, in an attempt to create immortal super soldiers, the US military accidentally unleashes a viral pandemic. The virus does indeed give the infected super strength and long lives, but it also makes them bloodthirsty monsters. The virals are vampire-like creatures, and I know vampire books have been done to death lately, but The Passage is more of a post-apocalyptic (think The Road by Cormac McCarthy) meets outbreak story than it is a traditional vampire story. So don’t let the v-word scare you away.

At the center of the story is Amy, a young girl that was part of the military’s experiment. She’s been exposed to the virus but doesn’t have the side effects, potentially making her the key to saving humanity.

If you think that sounds like a good story so far, well, that’s just the set up for the first 200 pages. Eventually, it picks up almost 100 years later at a colony of survivors in California. Here the story moves slowly as we meet an entire settlement’s worth of new characters and learn their story of survival.

When I say that the story is slow paced, I don’t mean it as a criticism. Unlike most thrillers, The Passage takes its time telling the story, focusing on specific details and using beautiful, descriptive language. It’s a very literary book and tackling the almost 800(!) pages requires patience, but the result is a very rewarding experience.

Even if post-apocalyptic vampires wouldn’t be your first choice for beach reading, I dare you to start reading this book and then just try putting it down. I bet you will find that the mythology, characters, and descriptive prose contained in The Passage to be mesmerizing.

The Passage is the first book in a planned trilogy and I absolutely cannot wait for the next installment.

Quotes from The Passage:

Before she became the Girl from Nowhere—the One Who Walked In, the First and Last and Only, who lived a thousand years—she was just a little girl in Iowa, named Amy. Amy Harper Bellafonte.

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

When all time had ended, and the world had lost its memory, and the man that he was had receded from view like a ship sailing away, round the blade of the earth with his old life locked in its hold; and when the gyring stars gazed down upon noting, and the moon in its arc no longer remembered his name, and all that remained was the great sea of hunger on which he floated forever—still, inside him, in the deepest place, was this: one year. The mountain and the turning seasons, and Amy. Amy and the Year of Zero.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: Ballantine Books | Pages: 784 | Source: Purchased | Buy on Amazon

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