The Passage by Justin Cronin
This book is: a creative, well-written story that just did not float my boat.
Other elements: viruses, vampires, apocalypses, government cover-ups, doomedness of the future.
Read it: if you like adventure, sci fi, and battling monsters created by humankind’s folly.
Overall rating: 6/10
The first thing I have to say is that as a written work, The Passage is better than a 6/10. It’s an excellent book. The concept is creative, the characters are well-rounded and memorable, the writing is solid. I just didn’t like it.
I picked up this book blindly after a friend recommended it, without even reading the back of a book jacket. Man-made viruses that escape and lead to the ruin of the world as we know it are not my cup of tea. Why? Maybe because I find it really plausible. Secret military facilities, mutant strains of rare tropical diseases…I totally buy it. And I don’t really want to think about it. Perhaps this is the root of my preference for fantasy over science fiction. Give me dragons over a government conspiracy any day.
When I rate a book, there are many factors. Was it well written? Did it make me happy? Did it awake my feminist rage? Did I enjoy the experience if reading it? Would anyone enjoy the experience of reading it?
This is a good book that I did not like. It’s like if I bit into an excellent oatmeal raisin cookie: I would notice that it was a good cookie, but I would still not want to eat it myself. (Raisins are foul zombie grapes and they ruin any baked good that they touch.)
I am going to give you a better chance than I gave myself. Here is Goodreads’ summary of The Passage:
“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.
With The Passage, award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterful prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.”