Monday, May 21, 2012

REVIEW: The Passage by Justin Cronin


“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.

About the Author
from Wikipedia

Justin Cronin is an American novelist. Awards he's won for his fiction include the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Stephen Crane Prize, and the Whiting Writer's Award.

Born and raised in New England, Cronin is a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He currently lives with his wife and children in Houston, Texas where he is Professor of English at Rice University.

My Thoughts
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.
This story takes place in various areas along the west, including places like Twenty-Nine Palms, Las Vegas, and Roswell, New Mexico.

Roswell UFO Museum
UFO Museum, Roswell, NM

One of those classic cases of scientists doing something they can do without really stopping to question whether they really should.

The government has been playing around with things better left alone. Experiments involving people and South American bats. And, as always happens in post-apocalyptic books of this nature, they have a little "oops!" that results in the downfall of humanity. Vampire-like creatures trick their captors and escape, and they are hungry!

Amy is just a little girl with an unstable life. Raised by a mother who makes bad choices in men and life in general, Amy is quiet and...strange. There is something disconcerting about her, like she knows what you're thinking, but passes no judgement on the world or those stumbling their way through it.

Brad Wolgast is a good man, but a broken man, who has done some things of which he is ashamed. Initially sent to kidnap Amy and bring her to the research lab, as she is viewed as the final key to their government research, he decides instead to be the man his dead baby girl could be proud of and to save Amy, who eventually becomes something of a surrogate daughter. Risking his life to protect her, he becomes the father she never had and earns a daughter's love.

Ninety-two years in the future, Peter is at a crossroads in his life. Living in a settlement of survivors who live under the constant threat of attack by the vampires known as "virals", and always second place to his esteemed older brother, he's feeling restless and uncertain. He eventually becomes the leader of a group of young colony members who set out on a mission to save a girl, and possibly the world.

I absolutely loved this story! I had a hard time getting into the first 100 pages, because I was concentrating on other books and only reading a few pages at a time. I finally decided to focus on this book, and then spent an inordinate amount of time kicking myself for having waited so long to read this book!

This book had everything: thrills, chills, horror, love, compassion, terror, suspense, brutality, sensitivity. It hosts a full cast of characters, many of which I fell in love with. I think my favorite character may have been Peter's love interest Alicia-- a strong woman raised by an ex-Colonel who taught her all about survival and fearlessness and selflessness.

This has the feel of a post-apocalyptic zombie story, but with vampire-like creatures instead. It is a bit of a cross between my two favorite books: The Stand by Stephen King and Swan Song by Robert McCammon.

My final word: This book is not for the faint of heart. At over 750 pages and full of brutality, do not go into it lightly, but grab onto it, wrap yourself around it, and live and breathe it. Only through total immersion can you truly appreciate the gentle moments. What a fine example of writing by Mr. Cronin, and I wait with bated breath for the second book in what is to become a trilogy. The Twelve is due for release in October 2012. Awesome!

My Rating: 9.5 out of 10


I received my copy as an ARC that was passed on to me by a fellow blogger. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.

1 comment:

Jo-Jo said...

I really liked this book too and can't wait for The Twelve to be released! People look at me funny when I tell them it's kind of like a vampire book, but yet it's not! lol