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Passage

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  5,225 ratings  ·  542 reviews
A tunnel, a light, a door. And beyond it ... the unimaginable.

Dr. Joanna Lander is a psychologist specializing in near-death experiences. She is about to get help from a new doctor with the power to give her the chance to get as close to death as anyone can.

A brilliant young neurologist, Dr. Richard Wright has come up with a way to manufacture the near-death experience usi...more
Paperback, 780 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Bantam Books (first published 2001)
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The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerOutlander by Diana GabaldonThe Time Machine by H.G. WellsTimeline by Michael CrichtonSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Best Time Travel Fiction
67th out of 979 books — 3,133 voters
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Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books
313th out of 4,329 books — 15,709 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Joel
This book is kind of a beautiful mess. I can think of few other authors with the equal ability to drive me absolutely insane and keep me reading, usually with a lump in my throat. This is my third Connie Willis novel. To Say Nothing of the Dog is one of my favorite books of all time, a comedic farce wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a sci-fi novel. It is probably too long and a lot of the plot relies on misunderstandings, miscommunication, missed connections and narrative dead ends. Doomsday Book...more
Scott
Ugh. I'm sorry, Connie, I like what I've read by you in the past, but I don't think this relationship can go any further. You have some neat ideas, and granted, Doomsday Book was amazing, but dammitall, your writing style is just too unimodal for me. Every single one of your books seems to be filled with this frantic energy of characters rushing around in a frenetic frenzy for several hundred pages; after a while, it just gets tiring. After the three books I've finished, it's just gotten old.

I l...more
Christy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ginny Messina
I can’t believe I read this whole book. I swear, every time I picked it up, someone had added another 25 pages to it.

I thought about bailing at around page 100, and then again at page 200 and even at page 300! But I loved Doomsday by this same author, and couldn’t bring myself to give up on this one. It’s about near death experiences and the Titanic; how can that combination fail to be interesting?

In fact, the story was interesting, but the book was too long by about 200 pages—-mostly due to r...more
Clouds

Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became
...more
Sandi
"Passage" is a remarkable work from a remarkable author. I've read it at least twice and it still blows me away. Willis treats the great question of what happens when we die with humor and sadness. Her treatment of the subject of dementia rang especially true. I had visited my grandmother in the nursing home (many, many miles away) when she was very far gone with senile dementia. She was completely unaware of her surrounding. Some of the things she was saying were eerily echoed in "Passage." I h...more
Brownbetty
Feb 02, 2008 Brownbetty rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: admirers of the written form
This book, about half-way through, does something one may not do half-way through a novel, and then continues, unabashed. I adore it.
Eliza
This book left me reeling- it forces you to confront your own mortality. When I finished the book, I literally just laid on my bed with my eyes wide open. I suggested it to a friend, but she it found it "too difficult" to get into. If you're up for a deeply moving experience, I cannot recommend this book enough.
Francesca
I went to the library to check out Willis' Doomsday, but this was the only Connie Willis book available...

There's a reason for that. It was awful.

The plot plods along and, as mentioned before, the running gags are not only referenced too frequently, but they don't lend anything worthwhile to the story. The cafeteria's always closed, hallways are constantly being painted, Joanna never remembers to eat lunch but Richard's lab coat is magically a vending machine, poorly written comedy ensues... yea...more
Danica
haven't read a book that knocked the breath out of me like this one did in approximately, like, an eon. cerebral, intensely emotional, + passages of airtight suspense. i feel like i raved about the last willis book i read, too. didn't i? (my account's nifty already-read backlog tells me that i indeed did.) yes, the author could've shaved off a hundred pages or three, and the har-har elbowed joke of a supporting character cast (all! of them! stereotyped to the last dotted i and crossed t!) got pr...more
Brendon Schrodinger
This book made a grown man cry. Granted, deferring to my partner, 'grown man' may be too strong a word, but you get my point. I'm usually cold-hearted and cynical, but Connnie Willis knows how to press my teary buttons.

At the time of first reading this I had a great lecturer called Joanna who fit the description of the main character to a tee, leaving me emotionally invested in the story more than the average reader.

Moving away from me sobbing like a baby, this is classic Connie Willis. Magnific...more
Maria
Dec 01, 2008 Maria rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people looking for a mind-trip
Recommended to Maria by: cincodemaygirl
Shelves: fiction, i-own
3.5 stars if I could give them. I loved the entire second half of the book, loved the ideas, the plot twist, the ending, the imagery in the NDEs, and Joanna's revelation about what her NDE really means - all of that really spoke to me, especially considering that she seems to have the same views about death as I do - but the characterization, and the writing in the first half of the book just weren't as good as I know Willis can do.

It's like she was in such a huge rush to get her ideas about de...more
Jaki
This came really really close to ending up in my "gave up on" shelf. I tried so hard to like it, I really did. Many times I'd tell myself that was it, I wasn't going to continue, and the ONLY reason I did finish it, is because it was Connie Willis. If this had been the first book I read by her, it would have gone to the local charity shop and I'd never touch another by her. But it wasn't, so I slogged through it...and slogged, and slogged and slogged.

It started out promising - investigating NDE...more
Ian
I don't know what to say about this book. I feel like it deserves a review, and yet I feel like it deserves better than I can give it. Passage takes place in those four-to-six minutes that start when a brain loses oxygen and end when the dying brain cells can no longer hold on ... and the person’s consciousness slips beyond the point of no return. What does one say about that time, that time which we all must experience sooner or later, and ultimately must experience alone, as the human mind str...more
Margaret
I loved the first two-thirds, about investigating near-death experiences -- fascinating subject, great characters, as usual -- but the last third consisted mostly of some of the characters racing around trying to figure out what another character (and thus the reader) had already figured out. The pacing and suspense were very good up until that point, but most of the rest was just not up to the beginning. I'd still probably recommend it, but with reservations.
Tressa
This one of few books I have read that stayed with me long after I read the last page. The theme of the book that we come into this world alone and will leave alone echoed Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel.

I agree that some of the hospital maze scenes do get tedious, but I was white-knuckled as Joanna tracked down the NDE of her subjects.

The last few paragraphs are very sad and poignant.
Beth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Suzanne (Doppleganger)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mike (the Paladin)
I'm going to make an exception to my "didn't finish rates 1 star rule here" I'm doing that in that I just couldn't get into this book, but I can tell it's because I'm not the book's chosen audience...so to speak. I skimmed through, I found out "what happens" but the story itself lost me early on.

I sort of thought it might be interesting when I started. The NDE (Near Death Experience) research was a good hook. Even the competing writers (a "sensational writer" and a "serious investigator") was pr...more
Laurel
So far this has been disappointing--I REALLY want to like it!

It's about this psychologist-nerd lady who studies Near Death Experiences with this hot MD who replicates the NDE with medications. Psych Nerd starts to self-experiment when they can't get enough subjects to participate. It's taken 200 pages to get to her first self-experiment and that is FAR too long. I can't take 200 pages of silly banter and cheesiness before the action starts. There is way too much detail about the scientific proce...more
Stephanie
OMG!!!!Finally!!!!!AFter all this time!!!!Whew!!!! Yes, this is my way of saying, "Holy Shit! This book was in serious need of a competent editor." 700 pages...over 16000 locations on my Kindle...so much unnecessary repetition. This would have been a good, to the point, great read at about 425 pages. The author was allowed to just go on...and on....and on...and on...exhausting! Also, way too much medical jargon. She had the doctors giving too much dialog about RIPT scans and all the different dr...more
Kristin
For me, Passage went from three stars, to four, to five during the last 200 pages of this (exceedingly long) book. Yeah, it could be edited down, and no, this isn't a book to read for elegant, beautiful prose. But man--combining near-death experiences, science, and the coolest at-sea disaster of the 20th century...Willis had me hooked. Give this book a chance. The last third is more profound than you think it will be. I was voraciously reading toward the end, hoping for a light at the end of the...more
Samyann
Audiobook. Passage is just over twenty-nine hours of audiobook, at least ten hours too long. The book has tons of reviews, in many you’ll find a synopsis of the story, so I’ll refrain from repetition. This, in my opinion, is one of the problems with Passage. There are many, many instances of repetition, all over the board with regard to topic, some repeated more than once. Enough. You get the idea. Get the abridged version, if you care to pursue.

With regard to fundamental beliefs, I’ve no bone t...more
Aileen
Honestly, I don't think I really understood this book. I found it powerful, moving and intriguing. But I finished it with a 'huh?'. I think I might have to go back and read it again.
Roddy Williams
'Dr Joanna Lander is a psychologist specialising in near-death experiences. She is about to get help from a new doctor with the power to give her the chance to get as close to death as anyone can. A brilliant young neurologist, Dr Richard Wright has come up with a way to manufacture the near-death experience using a psychoactive drug. Joanna’s first NDE is as fascinating as she imagined – so astounding that she knows she must go back, if only to find out why that place is so hauntingly familiar....more
Ann
Not nearly as good as it could have been.

1. It was about twice as long as it should have been. For a solid half of the book, there were a whole lot of words that did nothing to advance the plot or explicate any of the characters. I kept waiting for something to HAPPEN.

2. It reminded me of a to-do list: First he did this, then she did that, then she did this, then he did that... Not my kind of storytelling.

3. The characters rushed around too much. It was like trying to follow a tennis match with...more
Kristin
I FINISHED IT. Why did I finish it? I don't know. This book was unbelievably repetitive. The characters weren't fully-formed. It was repetitive. Passage took about 700 pages to decide what it wanted to be. It needed to be at least 300 pages shorter.

Things Willis should have cut: the heavy foreshadowing about rogue, anything to do with the cafeteria, Mr. Mandrake, Mr. Wojakowski (or at least his endless, repetitive anecdotes), medical acronyms used repeatedly without explanation (we don't need to...more
Shomeret
I was hooked by this book immediately because I was interested in the central character, Joanna Lander, the psychologist researching Near Death Experiences. I'm also very interested in both the process of scientific research and NDEs. The depiction of the research process is what makes this book science fiction though there are fantasy elements.

(view spoiler)...more
Marcus
This was my first book by Ms. Willis and quite possibly the last as well. For a book that’s written by a supposed luminary of sci-fi, there’s a lot of unnecessary narrative in it. If you cut out the extraneous stuff, this book could have easily been trimmed by a couple hundred pages. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a long book. But Willis seemed compelled to write details that were eyerollingly mundane.

Consider that the first 10% of the book consisted of Wright looking for Landers who was hidin...more
Sara
Passage by Connie Willis
4 Stars
594 Pages

Dr. Joanna Lander is a psychologist at Denver's Mercy General who specializes in the study of near-death experiences. And she's not the only one. There is also Dr. Mandrake, a best-selling author of spiritual books meant to convince people of the reality of the Other-Side and that those who have died can still communicate with those of us still here. Joanna spends most of her time trying to avoid him and get to patients who have coded to record their NDE b...more
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Discussion Questions 1 21 Dec 31, 2012 01:12PM  
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Constance Elaine Trimmer Willis is an American science fiction writer. She is one of the most honored science fiction writers of the 1980s and 1990s.

She has won, among other awards, ten Hugo Awards and six Nebula Awards. Willis most recently won a Hugo Award for All Seated on the Ground (August 2008). She was the 2011 recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award from the Science Ficti...more
More about Connie Willis...
Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel, #1) To Say Nothing of the Dog (Oxford Time Travel, #2) Blackout All Clear Bellwether

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“Thats what literature is. It's the people who went before us, tapping out messages from the past, from beyond the grave, trying to tell us about life and death! Listen to them!” 3 likes
“Wrong, and wrong agains,' he said. 'The likeness is already there. The metaphor only sees it. And it is not a mere figure of speech. It is the very essence of our minds as we seek to make sense of our surroundings, our experiences, ourselves, seeing similarities, parallels, connections. We cannot help it. Even as the mind fails, it goes on trying to make sense of what is happening to it.” 1 likes
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