Peter Derk's Reviews > The Passage

The Passage by Justin Cronin
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May 25, 2012

bookshelves: did-not-finish

Didn’t make it. Didn’t have the spirit to push through.
It started strong for me, but at some point we jump 100 years into the future and have a brand new set of at least a dozen different characters.
I recognize that there are people out there for whom a long list of characters isn’t a problem. I’ve met a number of people who enjoy reading long Russian novels that almost require a character list, flipcharts, and family trees.
Having a large number of characters isn’t necessarily bad, but I feel pretty strongly that if a character is necessary to the story, I should know enough about him or her to remember who he or she is. It really takes me out of the story when I have to say, Okay, which one is that again? over and over.
There were some really well drawn characters in the book, but most of those appeared in the first section. There were some good ones that appeared later as well, but they were surrounded by a bunch of nobodies. I think at one point a tertiary character killed his own brother, which is supposed to be fairly emotional, but I’m still not entirely sure that’s what happened. Maybe I should have led that with “Spoiler Alert,” but how can it be a spoiler if it may not have even happened?
This book was very different from the sorts of things I normally enjoy. The opposite of this book would be something like the Sisters Brothers, a book that really has 2 big characters. I couldn’t tell you their names, but I could tell you just about everything else about them. Or maybe a more apt comparison is World War Z. The characters don’t sound as different on the page as one might expect, but they do present very different perspectives on the same events, and the story doesn’t use a complicated relationship web to hold the narrative together.
Maybe it’s a name thing. I wonder if people who are really good with names have a knack for this kind of thing.
Regardless, I got to a section where all these characters, who I didn’t know, were having foreshadowing dreams, which I didn’t care about, and there was still a good 300 pages to go. Also of note, I was on an airplane when I hit the wall. So it was finish this or nothing, and I took nothing.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Lemmington27 I've been discussing this a fair bit lately (the names and characters issue). From A song of ice and fire, where you most certainly require cheat sheets to keep track, to books set in geographically or historically diverse settings. You end up with lists of names, each one with the potential to be remarkable if positioned within a list of modern names but utterly forgettable when swamped within a raft of weirdo ones.

message 2: by Peter (new) - added it

Peter Derk Right? It's a real dilemma. I can't have a guy in a swashbuckling epic be named Craig. But then when everyone is named Horatio Loxbury, it's the same problem.

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