"I may not know how to fly but I know how to read and that's almost the same thing."-- Gregory Maguire, Out of Oz

"...while finding true love was one of the most splendid things that could happen to you in life, finding a friend was equally splendid." -- Felix J Palma, The Map of the Sky

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Passage by Justin Cronin

I had to force myself to give this story the 5/5 rating. Don't get me wrong it certainly deserved the full score. It has all the things I love in a story: a richly detailed setting, engaging multi-layered characters, an outrageously addictive plot, great writing... I loved it while I was reading it. On the other hand, once the story ended, I thought through everything the story contained and its ending, and I admit it makes me slightly suicidal.

It's one of those reads that is written well enough you want to climb right into the pages and at the same time makes you wish you hadn't. I loved this story, will probably never read it again, but will probably read the sequel. It is also one of those stories that is going to be difficult to review without dropping spoilers, simply because so much happens, but I'm going to try.

This story can be broken down by major plot points.

The Beginning of the End
Characters of the beginning of the end include Carter, Wolgast, Lacey, and Amy...Carter is an inmate on death row and Wolgast is a government agent working on a top secret experiment. Lacey and Amy, a nun and an orphan, are about to fall victim to that very experiment. Now, I'm sure the premise of the story won't surprise or spoil, as it has been done before. A top secret experiment, goes out of control and eventually destroys the world as we know it.

The Colony
Characters change as the setting leaps ahead, after the apocalypse. After a virus has turned most of humanity into murderous terrors of the night, Peter, Mausami, Michael, and Alicia, and many others step forward. The army abandoned their ancestors in a settlement in California...Generations later, it is their job is to protect life as we know it, a life that is now spent living under flood lights, behind tall walls.

The Quest
The story steps out of this cloistered world as characters from the future collide with characters from the past. A group of Colonists are flushed out into the open in a search for answers that they hope will save the Colony... The landscape the cross into is unforgiving and ruled by monsters that used to be human.

The Beginning is surprisingly long, but not unimportant to the plot. Not only does it set the story up, it sets the characters up. The reader gets to see how the world ends and later, just how little the families living in the colony actually know about the outbreak that changed everything. Cronin interjects biblical parables, ideas of fate and predetermined paths, into a story that at times, appears godless. As the characters begin to understand just how much they didn't know, didn't want to know, they start to realize; ignorance isn't bliss, it's hell on earth... and knowing the truth might be a relief worth dying for.

This story has a little of everything. Moments of beauty and innocence followed by nightmares that I'm thankful are confined to imagination. There's tragedy and insanity, friendship and romance, war, blind faith and suspicion... And let's not forget the gore...If you're a horror fan with a gross-quota that needs to be filled there are some moments in this book that make me want to retch.

This story is awesome and awful... For now, I'm going to go find something happy to read and when I'm feeling brave, I will read the sequel, The Twelve.


  1. I read this when it first came out and really enjoyed it! Then a long time passed until the follow-up, The Twelve, released. So much time and so much detail that I can't get myself to finish the sequel yet. I put it aside for now.I felt like reading the Passage was an "Experience" but I don't know if I want to relive it again. I tried first three chapters of The Twelve, and was hopelessly lost--had to have the first book next to me to search for references.
    Glad you enjoyed it. I really did too. Echoing you, it is like the story is several stories strung into one really long one. Not trying to discourage you from the sequel, just preparing you :) Thanks for the review.

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought it was fantastic but too grim to relive. I'll never look at oranges the same way again!


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