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Passage

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,351 Ratings  ·  631 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
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Paperback, 780 pages
Published January 2nd 2002 by Bantam (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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j
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
Jan 12, 2009 Scott rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
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
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Brownbetty
Feb 02, 2008 Brownbetty rated it it was amazing
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.
Christy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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Ginny Messina
Jan 29, 2009 Ginny Messina rated it it was ok
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
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Sandi
Jan 21, 2008 Sandi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
"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
Jaki
Mar 24, 2016 Jaki rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Francesca
Apr 17, 2010 Francesca rated it did not like it
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
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Beth
Apr 15, 2012 Beth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Only Connie Willis could make me love a science-fiction novel about two doctors researching near-death experiences and their potential medical scope. The entire book is a buildup to a metaphor about life and death and grief, and when, about two thirds of the way through, Willis connects the threads and the metaphor comes together, the story proceeds in a way I could never have predicted, a way that's daring and gutwrenching and the only way she could possibly have taken her story.

Passage - becau
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Eliza
Mar 22, 2008 Eliza rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
Brendon Schrodinger
Feb 11, 2013 Brendon Schrodinger rated it it was amazing
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
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Danica
Jun 13, 2009 Danica rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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
Stephanie
Apr 13, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was ok
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
Aiyana
Aug 21, 2014 Aiyana rated it it was amazing
I will repeat my original review of this book here:

I cannot, in all good conscience, recommend this novel. You will most likely wind up staying up all night to find out how it ends, and I also don't think it's healthy to hold your breath so long as I did while caught up in the final chapters.

This is a brilliant, deeply engaging, philosophical piece of neuroscience-fiction that manages to ponder the Big Questions while maintaining an easy conversational style, numerous moments of both tears and l
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Tressa
Jul 28, 2007 Tressa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
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.
Michael
This 2001 novel shows the same sprawl and bloat as in her latest two novels, leaving me yearning for the slim brilliance of her slightly earlier "Bellwether" and "To Say Nothing of the Dog". Here she flies with a creative idea of a female psychologist, Joanna, and a male neurologist teaming up to elucidate why the brain generates a relatively common set of experiences in near-death situations. That an experimental drug might help research by simulating the patterns engaged in the "Near Death Exp ...more
Maria
Dec 01, 2008 Maria rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people looking for a mind-trip
Recommended to Maria by: cincodemaygirl
Shelves: i-own, fiction
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
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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
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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
Kristin
May 19, 2008 Kristin rated it really liked it
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
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.
Sjh331
Jan 10, 2015 Sjh331 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Just... wow.

Connie Willis brings the style and skill from her multiple Hugo- and Nebula-winning works to bear on a subject near and dear to my heart: the human brain. I devoured this nearly-800 page novel over a weekend and loved every minute of it. Plausible without losing imagination and profound yet pithy, this has become one of my favorite fiction novels of all time.
Oracleofdoom
Jul 30, 2015 Oracleofdoom rated it it was amazing
This book was really heavy. At first I didn't think so. At first I really felt as if I was putting together pieces of a puzzle, along with the main character, trying to solve a mystery. And then about three quarters of the way through the book, something happened that I really did not expect. I realized in hindsight that the entire book had been foreshadowing the event that I hadn't seen coming at all. This is how foreshadowing should work, in my opinion. It shouldn't spoil the book, but rather, ...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
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Shomeret
Mar 08, 2015 Shomeret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)
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Beth
Aug 12, 2011 Beth rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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.
Krista
Dec 11, 2010 Krista rated it really liked it
From the neurochemistry to the exporation of the science of near-death experiences, this book not only tells a story and explores ideas, but it actually puts you in the position of discovering data and figuring it out along with the scientists. I love that kind of book. There was a lot going on, and it was a little repetitive in parts, and sometimes the relentless pace made me tired, but it came together cleverly with one of the greatest aha! passages I've ever read. Even after that, I stayed up ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Jun 08, 2013 Mike (the Paladin) rated it it was ok
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
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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
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“That's 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!” 1557 likes
“They say the dead can’t speak, but they can! The people in this book died over sixty years ago, in the middle of the ocean, with no one around them for miles, but they still speak to you. They still send us messages—about love and courage and death! That’s what history is, and science, and art. That’s 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!” 6 likes
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