Justin Cronin’s The Passage is an epic story. To try to summarize the plot would be doing the book a disservice. The plot line is deep and so full of curves, it would be impossible for me to accurately explain this book without one, spoiling all of the good parts; and two, writing a 15 page document full of half starts and “oh yea, I forgot to add”’s. Suffice it to say that my quick retelling of the book (without including any spoilers) is in no way an indication of how truly amazing this book really is.
Picture it- the military develops a very secretive virus. Said virus is injected into 12 “expendable” death row inmates and one little girl. Invariably, the military loses control of said individuals; they escape and infect essentially the entire planet. Therein lays the basis of the story. Intertwined throughout the story are the rich narratives of multiple different characters – some of which span entire life-times – so rich and authentic you feel as though you aren’t simply an observer in the story, you are an actual participant. This story encapsulates the best of multiple genres – fantasy, horror, and science fiction.
Cronin has an unabashed knack for creating a dystopian world that feels genuine and realistic. His character develop is almost eerie in its ability to make you form unnatural attachments to the characters (some of this may be due in part to the length of the book – clocking in at a monster 912 pages, this book is not for the timid reader). Cronin is an absolute master of suspense; however, you are left in a constant state of abatement. I felt like from the beginning, there was a constant state of panic/urgency in all of the interweaving stories; yet there never actually came a point where everything climaxed. I do feel like I need to quantify that last statement – this is the first book in a trilogy. I’m hopeful that the climax will come WITHIN the series; but as a stand-alone book – while entertaining, absorbing and absolutely engrossing, it does leave the reader wishing for a final culmination of sorts.
This book is a frantic page turner. I found myself desperate to continue reading to find out what happens; while simultaneously trying to slow down to ensure the story wouldn’t end. I’m currently reading The Twelve, the second book in the series, and I am just as entranced by the follow-up as I was with the original. If you have an aversion to sci-fi/fantasy/horror, please take a chance on this book. I promise you won’t be disappointed.