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The Passage: A Novel
NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST NOVELS OF THE YEAR BY TIME AND LIBRARY JOURNAL—AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • Esquire • U.S. News & World Report • NPR/On Point • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • BookPage
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.
“Enthralling . . . You will find yourself captivated.”—Stephen King
“Magnificently unnerving . . . The Stand meets The Road.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Great entertainment . . . [a] big, engrossing read.”—The Dallas Morning News
“Mythic storytelling.”—San Francisco Chronicle
The story of Amy continues in The Twelve, coming soon. Look for a special preview in the back of the eBook.
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479 of 529 found the following review helpful:
It's The End Of the World As We Know It--Several TimesApr 22, 2010
By K. Harris
It has been a while since I've encountered a horror novel of such magnitude and scope, but Justin Cronin's hefty tome "The Passage" seems poised to announce itself as the latest true "horror epic." It's about time too! Ambitious and thought-provoking, but filled with propulsive action and bloodshed, "The Passage" is the thinking person's genre thrill ride. This massive book starts in the near future with a pretty unique combination of vampiric lore meshed with science gone awry. But Cronin, while nailing these explosive first chapters, has much more up his sleeve. The expansive (and sometimes it seems the story will never end) plot resets several times until we have followed the confrontations to their inevitable conclusion many generations later.
The comparisons to Stephen King's "The Stand" seem apt and, I believe, will be widespread. And in case anyone has a passing interest on where I fall on "The Stand," I think it's the best book of its type that I've ever read. Although the books are quite different in plotting and structure, thematically they share much. From the veritable destruction of the world as we know it, to the efforts to rebuild some semblance of a new world order, to the ultimate confrontation between good an evil replete with the requisite supernatural underpinnings--both books challenge ordinary citizens to rise to extraordinary levels to champion the human cause. In the right hands, these apocalyptic epics can be unforgettable--and I'll just say that Cronin's hands are quite capable.
Don't misunderstand the King reference, however, "The Passage" stands as its own unique portrait of a ravaged future. It's just that there are so few horror novels that set out to accomplish so much in storytelling. Cronin's novel is gutsy, challenging and filled with high level drama of the first order. It's not breezy or light entertainment, however. It's a serious reading commitment for those looking for their gore mixed with a lot of substance. A real change-of-pace and a welcome new addition to the ranks of horror lore, "The Passage" has earned the title of "epic."
343 of 393 found the following review helpful:
Keep the Lights OnApr 29, 2010
By Jennifer L. Rinehart
If this review sounds disjointed, meandering and incoherent, forgive me, because I am exhausted. My eyes are gritty and I have a cramp in my hand because I fell asleep on it.
I got this book on Tuesday, read until my eyes were blurry and then snuck out of bed to sit in the icy cold living room so late at night (or early, depending on your point of view) to finish this book.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that this book is addictive.
First of all, I should tell you a little about my reading history. I've read The Stand, The Strain, Andromeda Strain, Red Storm Rising, One Second After, The Descent and World War Z, I could go on, but if you recognize any of these titles you will know that I have a thing for everything-goes-to-hell books.
The Passage, in my opinion, is as good as, if not better than the best of these novels.
I've gotten a bit jaded in my reading. Not only does it take more to shock me, it takes more characters, more excitement and mystery to keep me reading past the first five pages. When I read about the Passage on one of my favorite book review sites, I was interested, but not jumping up and down with glee to read it. After all, this was a book about Vampires.
I've read a lot of vampire fiction lately, and the bloodthirsty fangers just aren't as thrilling to me as they used to be. There's just two kinds of vamp books, good vamps and bad vamps. Count Dracula, Lestat, Angel and Spike would run away from the vamps in this book.
But, from the first chapter, I was drawn in by the characters. The destined for tragedy Jeanette, Wolgast, whose life has become one long waiting line, Amy, an innocent child with frighteningly wise eyes. All the side characters are intriguing too, Sister Lacey, Richards, Doyle, Peter, Michael, reminding the reader that the most placid surface can conceal the darkest depths.
As the reader, I was frightened. I put the book down about 3/4 of the way through and walked around my empty living room, trying to shake off the creeping horror of what was happening. I think the style of the writing makes it scarier, it's real, like a car crash and just as sudden. Cronin shows you the best of people one moment and then scares the hell out of you the next.
Some people might be angry about the world building. There isn't a lot of it, little clues let you know that the beginning of the book is in the future (no flying cars, gee whiz, it isn't that kind of story). The story and characters are the central focus, in this it reminds me of Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, like Thrones, you begin to see what the world is like because you are experiencing it along with the survivors.
The ending was unexpected. I don't want to say anymore about it, because you have to read this yourself.
439 of 509 found the following review helpful:
I'm not usually a skimmer---must be going VIRAL!Jun 23, 2010
By Shiloh True
Justin Cronin's 766 page, 2 + pound, mammoth epic of a novel, nearly gave me bursitis in my elbows, from hoisting it up in the air over a three night period. For the first 250 pages, I thought the pain was worth it; it was enthralling. Then the storyline jumps almost a century into the future, with a host of total strangers' inking out survival in the post-apocalyptic, virus infested world. I was shaking my head in total disbelief. Just who were these people, why should I care about them, and what happened to those I had become so invested in, besides the obvious, that is, my favorite character was presumed dead. Unbelievable! I kept trudging on thinking, 'I'll soon be reunited with a couple of them.' Well, not exactly! The structure of the book became my enemy, spoiling much of the enjoyment and crashing the ride.
There have only been a few books that I resorted to 'skimming' through in my entire reading history. I'm normally driven to read every word. However, I felt that there was so much filler, and situational redundancy, that wasn't integral toward driving the plot, that I simply lost the personal investment. I did revive my flagging attention span toward the end. Unfortunately, the end left me scratching my head, too, not quite comprehending the spiritual, and metaphysical viewpoints setting up for the sequel. I resigned that we were moving from mans' fight for survival toward the fantasy realm. In my personal assessment, this was throwing too many berries into the pie.
The military, bio-warfare, experiment gone awry, is not a new theme, but I had high expectations for this epic after reading the marketing campaign. I did not feel that it offered competition for 'The Stand,' or 'I am Legend,' both of which offered unforgettable characters. None of the characters in 'The Passage,' became that endearing to me. In fact, after finishing the book, I can only remember a few of the characters' names.
Overall, I view 'The Passage' as rather overly ambitious, AND, about 200 pages too long. Are there areas of greatness and creativity in this novel? Absolutely! I'd give the beginning 5 stars, but sadly the rest of it is only 2 stars---thus my average 3 star rating.
I gauge the success, of the first in a trilogy, on how anxious I am for the next installment. In this case, I'm not sure I will actually read the sequel.
273 of 329 found the following review helpful:
At first I thought, wow, great, then I hit page 250 ..Jul 23, 2010
By Colorado Springs reader
"Colorado Springs reader"
...and the book totally fell off a cliff. How is it possible for a novel to be so intriguing, so beautifully paced, so full of interesting people and situations, and then, boom, just like that, become turgid and awkward and stuffed to overflowing (and I do mean overflowing) with the world's most tedious characters? Really, I couldn't imagine what Cronin was trying to do. Someone in the Colony, let's say character A, who is the great-nephew of B twice removed, just got killed by a vampire. Or was he the second cousin of B, twice removed? Well, who cares, because we know nothing about him, except that he was related to someone else we also know nothing about. And that he just got killed by a vampire. And in any case, we're on to the next fifty characters, all just as sketchy, and all probably also killed by vampires. Isn't the author supposed to make us care about the characters in his novel? Cronin seems to do everything he can to ensure we won't give a damn about them. And, believe me, I didn't.
To make us care even less, Cronin uses the presumed-dead-but-really-still-alive twist, well, so many times I lost count (I'd really like to know what the grand total is, if someone managed to track it). I swear to god, one character was presumed-dead-but-really-still-alive not once, but twice. Sheesh. So whenever someone died I was like, yeah, right, see you in 30 pages. And if they didn't reappear in 30 pages I'd kind of forgotten about them anyway. So, for me at least, this was a masterful stroke that made me care even less about the fate of his characters than I did already. In fact, I was so tired of them popping back up I was really rather sad that I couldn't kill the damned things off myself.
Because the first 250 pages were so good I slogged through the next god-save-me 500 pages in a state of disbelief. I mean, it can't be this bad forever, can it? Well, yes, it can. It has to have some redeeming qualities someplace in 500 pages, doesn't it? Well, no, it doesn't. If, by some chance, someone reads this who is at about page 300, someone who is thinking, whoa, I'm shocked at how bad this has become, but I should finish it, shouldn't I? - well, let me tell you, clean your ovens, scrub your toilets, rather than wasting any more time on this book. Not only will you have clean toilets, I guarantee, GUARANTEE, that scrubbing toilets will be much more fun than finishing this awful mess.
91 of 107 found the following review helpful:
Depends a lot on your taste & reading backgroundJun 29, 2010
You know why there is such a discrepancy in the reviews? It's simply this: aficionados of horror or post-apocalyptic fiction recognize this as a mash-up that doesn't really fulfill the expectations of either genre. Fans of literary fiction find it rather thrilling -- a 'good' writer tackling those supposedly lowbrow genres.
So in the end, your level of satisfaction will depend on your taste, reading experience, and genre expectations. No book can please everyone and The Passage is no exception.
For me, there were some beautiful and evocative sections, but as others have pointed out, I cared a lot less once the story jumped 100 years into the future. The 'new' characters are thinly drawn and largely stereotypes; the villainous creatures get progressively less dangerous and nowhere near as fast as they were in the beginning; the plot s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s out to less reward; and the resolution(s) are both complicated and easy. Plus you're left hanging until the sequels.
It's an experiment, really: putting a literary writer into the genre pit. He claws his way out, but the genre fans can't help but find his story rather ho-hum, which leaves the literary crowd to coo about this as a "startling achievement"--they just don't know any better.
You were warned!
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