The Passage – Justin Cronin

While The Passage’s back cover says little describing the story, it serves it’s purpose by piquing my interest. I had no idea it was a book about vampires in a viral apocalypse. However, to say it is simply a post-apocalyptic vampire horror story isn’t enough. This story s so much more than that. Threaded with themes of morality and ethics in research, army and governments, religion and love this story is a whole lot more complex. The Passage begins with a researcher delving into the jungles of Bolivia to track down a bat with vampiric properties. The mission becomes compromised when the group is attacked by the bats and only a few survive, including one member infected by the bats. This leads to further research involving each row inmates doomed to die anyway, creating the twelve.  The last to be infected is a little girl. Unsurprisingly everything goes wrong with the twelve escaping their confines and wreaking havoc on the America decimating the population. The rest of the book follows 93 years into the future in a small civilisation trying to survive.


After hearing the author speak about his books I was convinced his book was for me. I love how layered and complex this story is, while it works as a stand alone novel there is much left unfinished at the ned of the novel leading to the two books following. The strands of the story are woven together across the novel. Some night find the book too long and boring at times. I have to admit I enjoyed the length and still finished the 900+ pages in a weekend. I loved the stories slowly unravelling, the air of mystery, the supernatural/regligious aspect to the story. In my opinion this story is utterly haunting, guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. Cronin has definitely developed a fascinating setting.


The characters are another highlight of this book. While there are many to keep track of and it can be confusing to begin with they are well worth remembering. Cronin is particularly skilled at developing whole characters. They are all complex with their own back story and unique personalities. Cronin mentioned that he chooses to write his characters as really people. The villains are written to create empathy for those that you wouldn’t usually feel for and your heroes certainly aren’t perfect. This concept I absolutely love as it adds another dimension to the story and holds my interest. I definitely found myself considering the central characters across the weekend whether I was reading the book or not and know I’ll be thinking of them long into the future.


Despite hearing many good things about this novel and listening to the author speak less than a week ago this book not only lived up to my expectations, but surpassed them. This is an intelligent book with great concepts, great characters and memorable writing. I would definitely urge anyone to give this one a try, even if it is stepping outside of your usual comfort zone. This book as so many interesting aspects that it is truly a unique read. One I am keen to continue with his next book, The Twelve. I give The Passage  four bright lights, keeping humanity alive.


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