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Passage

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  7,187 Ratings  ·  740 Reviews
One of those rare, unforgettable novels that are as chilling as they are insightful, as thought-provoking as they are terrifying, award-winning author Connie Willis's Passage is an astonishing blend of relentless suspense and cutting-edge science unlike anything you've ever read before.

It is the electrifying story of a psychologist who has devoted her life to tracking dea
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ebook, 800 pages
Published December 9th 2009 by Bantam (first published 2001)
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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
Brownbetty
Feb 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Scott
Jan 12, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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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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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Virginia 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
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Sandi
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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Aiyana
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Connie Willis excels at meshing humorously satirical commentary on interpersonal relationships with insights into the human condition that are so true they almost hurt. In 'Passage,' Joanna Lander is a researcher at a large hospital investigating near-death experiences. Her work is complicated by the difficulty of interviewing people who are near-death, but especially by the new-age charlatan who insists on being considered her colleague, Dr. Mandrake. Much of Joanna's time consists of trying to ...more
Francesca
Apr 17, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dane
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
It would be fair, I think, to say that Connie Willis has a formula. Take a well educated 30ish year old trying to solve an unsolveable scientific mystery. While trying avoid an incredibly annoying coworker/family member/etc, they meet a similarly inclined professional of the opposite sex who they join forces with. Armed with a general disdain for the absurdities of contemporary society and a somewhat uncanny knowledge of classic literature, they spend several hundred pages trying to piece togeth ...more
Kim
I've read a few Connie Willis books now. And I've come to a conclusion. She's out to fuck with us. And she needs a better editor. The premise and core concept of this book are great. And I wanted to finish it because I had to know how it ended. But it was a torturous journey.

This book reminded me very much of Doomsday Book, also by Connie Willis, in that so much could have been solved by people just talking plainly and picking up the god damn phone. It felt like 90% of this book was caused by p
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Danica
Jun 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Tressa
Jul 28, 2007 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.
Beth
May 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mike
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve come to realize that my expectations of what to expect from Connie Willis are pretty permanently off-kilter. My first Willis book was To Say Nothing of the Dog. It’s a delightful and loving tribute to both Victorian comedies of manners and Golden Age mystery novels, and I consider it the funniest book I’ve ever read, surpassing even Douglas Adams and Sir Terry Pratchett. (GNU) And as a result of this, despite having read the several-hundred-pages-long punch to the stomach that was The Dooms ...more
Hana
May 21, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I cannot believe I am giving one star to a book written by Connie Willis. Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog are two of my all-time favorite novels--and I'm not even narrowing that down to sci-fi. But this was just a mess.

One of the recurring themes in Willis' novels seems to be institutional and technological dysfunction. In Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, this is kept within bounds and is mildly amusing. People keep missing each other, playing endless telephone tag, etc.
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Maria
Dec 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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Suzanne (Doppleganger)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kristin
Nov 12, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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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ashley c
Amazing. This is probably one of of two books that set me thinking of life after death, which I don't believe in. Connie Willis had done it again with her deadpan humor, combined with her intelligence and determination to test the boundaries of science in fiction. I loved this book for its revolutionary ideas.

(view spoiler)
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Kristin
Oct 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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!” 1577 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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