Like so many other books about the “Apocalypse” The Passage delivers in many aspects but also fails in others.
Dubbed as a “vampire” book by some reviewers, this intrigued me to further investigate a novel by an author I had never heard of. The fact that the book is huge, approximately 800 pages long turned me off from buying it in hard copy, instead I purchased it for my Kindle where I could read it without the bulky weight.
In the end I decided to read this book as it was recommended by the amazing Stephen King whose has written so many of my favourite books (and movie adaptations) notably The Stand, The Green Mile and The Shining.
Here what he had to say about The Passage:
"Every so often a novel-reader's novel comes along: an enthralling, entertaining story wedded to simple, supple prose, both informed by tremendous imagination. Summer is the perfect time for such books, and this year readers can enjoy the gift of Justin Cronin’s The Passage. Read fifteen pages and you will find yourself captivated; read thirty and you will find yourself taken prisoner and reading late into the night. It has the vividness that only epic works of fantasy and imagination can achieve. What else can I say? This: read this book and the ordinary world disappears." [source]
After finishing the book I must say that I disagree with Mr King is some aspects. The first few chapters of the book are utterly boring (although necessary to the story) with an array of characters which can become a bit confusing.
However, like most good books you must continue reading to get to the good parts. I found the first section of the book really set the scene well for future chapters. It was well written and Cronin thoroughly got into the heads of some of the main characters such as Wolgast and Carter. I have to admit that once the first section of the book (The Time Before) was finished I felt quite sad as the original characters were no longer with me anymore.
The hallmark of a great author is one who can bring the characters to life and in turn renders them real in your imagination. Cronin definitely achieved this by focussing on “real” aspects of peoples lives such as love, death and friendship.
The first part also goes into detail about how the virus (which kills people or makes them turn into an ‘animal’) began and why. The Twelve original carriers of the virus are brought to your attention, the main ones in this novel being Zero (who is only mentioned in the first part of the book), Carter- a convicted killer with an interesting past and Babcock-an essential character in this book who happens to be the most powerful of all of the virals.
The second part of the book brings lots of new characters who live in the First Colony in California. The people there live behind a wall of lights which is intended to keep the virals or “smokes” at bay.
The main characters of the First Colony are Peter and Theo Jaxon, Michael and Sara Fischer, Alicia Donadio and Mausami Patel.
Some sections of the second part of the book confused me as the author attempted to get into the heads of so many different characters of the people who lived in the First Colony. Although it was interesting to read about different people’s experiences and their “primitive” lives, it was essentially confusing and dragged the middle part of the book out for a bit too long.
The last part of the book occurs when the book’s protagonist Amy arrives as a “walker” at the First Colony.Amy is also know throughout the book as Amy Harper Bellafonte , “Amy NLN” and "The Girl From Nowhere".
Michael Fischer, who runs the lights, knows that it will only be a short time until the lights go out completely due to battery failure. Michael is also the one who discovers a chip in Amy’s skin which is sending out a message all the way from Colorado.
He and his good friend Peter along with others begin the long journey, mostly by foot, to Colorado in an attempt to find the sender of the message.
Many wonderful and terrible things occurs to them along the way including death, love, a baby, new friendships as well as a viral attack that changes everything.
I would love to say more but don’t want to spoil the fun for anyone wanting to read this. Although this wasn’t the best book I have ever read by far, it was a great experience, a must read for almost anyone.
I would give it 4/5 stars. I would have given it 5 stars if it weren’t so long through the middle of the book.
The next book is due to come out sometime in 2012 (I cannot wait!)