The Passage – Justin Cronin

A twist on both the vampire and zombie fads, The Passage is a story of human genius quickly gone awry; of a manufactured virus that does not kill those it infects, but rather transforms them into something inhumanly powerful, incredibly bloodthirsty—and immortal. It only took one night for the world to change forever, and now the survivors must constantly fight for their lives against the “virals.”

If you asked me about this book while I was reading it, you would have gotten very different answers depending on when you asked. The beginning of this book, the part that takes place in current day before the spread of the virus, had me completely hooked. I was loving it. It was very much The Stand meets Dracula, and since I was also reading Dracula at the time, it was an interesting mental comparison. I loved the characters (especially Brad Wolgast), and their development, while bare in some places, was still enough to really give you a sense of the person behind the character—in Justin Cronin’s case, sometimes less is more when it comes to character development.

If you had asked me around the time I was a few chapters into Part IV, “All Eyes,” I would have said something along the lines of “meh,” and that I had kind of lost interest and had been (guiltily) avoiding it for a few days…which turned into a few weeks. Part of it was that the setting and characters had changed so abruptly that it felt like I was reading an entirely different story, and I was still in mourning for the characters I had left behind at the end of Part II. There was a LOT of exposition in this middle part. The large majority of it was absolutely necessary, of course, because this part takes place about 100 years after the present day, but too much of it was told in flashback sequences. It was very difficult for me to figure out what exactly the timeline of events was, and the struggle made me want to give up, so for a few weeks, I did.

But finally, if you had asked me last weekend what I thought of The Passage, my answer would still be different. I didn’t love the final 40% or so of the book as much as I loved the beginning, but it’s safe to say I was definitely hooked back in. I had returned to The Passage out of both a sense of obligation and just a need to be done, especially since I had decided that I wouldn’t allow myself to start a new book until I was finished with it, or had at least given it another try. But I was quickly drawn into the story of Peter and Alicia and everyone else, and it seemed like almost non-stop action from about two-thirds of the way through until the end. This non-stop action actually got a little tiresome, though, because it almost seemed like he was trying to fill space or something, and the book was plenty long as it is (my Kindle app said 771 pages, not sure how long the paperback is).

All in all, though, the story was very engaging, with just the right amount of romance to keep it interesting but not enough to make it saccharine. The action was riveting for the most part, but got a little tiresome towards the end. The virals were sufficiently terrifying but also pitiable, in a way. I’m looking forward to reading the next book (oh, yeah, did I mention this was a trilogy?), The Twelve, and have in fact already downloaded it—but definitely need a break before I go there.


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11 thoughts on “The Passage – Justin Cronin

  1. I felt the same way after the time jump. The earlier part had me hooked and then it was sort of… eh. I think you’ll find the second book to be similar. The jump this time wasn’t quite as jarring, since having read the first book gives it a bit of context, but I still had the same kind of reaction.

    • Yeah, maybe it’s just his style. But I figured the second book would be just as long, which is why I need a break in between! I’m reading something TOTALLY different now so it’ll be nice for my brain to switch gears for a while.

    • Nope, apparently the third is due out sometime in 2014. So I’m actually debating a little bit with myself whether or not I should read the second one immediately since I’m going to have to wait a while for the third anyway.

  2. Good review. I felt EXACTLY the same way about this book. Loved loved loved the beginning, got sort of blah and annoyed with the part that followed, but was pretty happy and engaged by the conclusion.

    I haven’t gotten the follow-up yet because when I started it, I didn’t know it was going to be a series. I’ll wait until it gets further along before going back in.

    • Thanks!! My biggest issue with fantasy-ish books, which I was really only able to finally put into words today when I was talking to my fiance about it, is that I’m not patient enough to learn a new world when I’m reading, and jumping that century or so seemed like enough of a “new” world that it really threw me off. But I’m definitely glad I finished it 🙂

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