Monday, October 8, 2012

Review: The Passage by Justin Cronin

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "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."

Review:  I've had mixed feelings about writing a review about The Passage since it was so complex and I took way too long to read it.  After seeing Justin Cronin on Good Morning America, I went to pick up his novel.  Honestly, I was intrigued by the idea of a scientifically altered group of people unleashed on the world.  Cronin called them a type of vampire, so admittedly, that's how I went into the story.  These human monsters seemed about as far removed from any monster I'd read about and felt more like a story that echoed authors like Stephen King in The Stand.  

Overall, this novel is beyond complex.  There are characters galore, and time and gaps in time that make the story even more complex.  It feels like you just get used to a set of characters and we rotate to another set.  In a way, you really do need to dedicate some time to this novel and then keep at it.  This is not a book to start reading, put down, and come back to without considerable issues.

The gist of this novel is an apocalyptic story where a scientific experiment went so terribly wrong that it pretty much wiped out society.  Now we follow a small band of people who have survived and find out how they might just survive and not be looking behind their backs forever more.  How?  You find out some pivotal information near the end of the first book that really propels you into reading the next one out.  I won't lie.  It was a little bit of a "holy cow" sort of moment when you start to pull things together, and it is pretty interesting, but you have to read the next book to find out what really happens.

Let me be clear that this is not my normal read.  I didn't love it and I struggled to get through it.  That doesn't mean that it's not a good book and I'll be the first to admit it.  The story is engaging and requires your complete attention to keep characters and story lines straight.  However, I can see that this has a clear audience for readers who enjoy a thorough story that works to build up the world and its characters, putting an interesting twist to it all.  Although I felt a bit weary at the end, I can say that I'm glad I stuck it out.  That ending is pretty exciting and made me consider reading the next book!

For some alternate reviews, check out these bloggers:
 It's All About Books
 The Book Smugglers
 Hey Lady, Whatcha Readin'?

As you can see, I'm in the minority!  Most people LOVED this book.  If you've read it, please comment and let me know what you thought and feel free to leave a link to your own review.

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on a personal copy of the novel.


  1. I'm in the group that loved it. I can't wait to get my copy of the next book! I can see where this book wouldn't be for everyone, though.

  2. You know how I feel about chunksters, so I avoided this book. It does sound like a worthwhile read, though, maybe...?

  3. I tried this when it was released and stopped, but plan to try it again with book 2, The Twelve, releasing soon. I'm s sucker for the hype.

  4. I am in the midst of reading this book right now! The first part actually bothered me, but I can't pinpoint why. I still continued and am enjoying it more, but not sure I love it ... at least not yet.

  5. I'm looking forward to The Twelve, too. I was too much of a newbie to know about the long lines for the most coveted galleys at BEA, so missed my chance to snag one there.