Laura Lemay's Reviews > The Passage

The Passage by Justin Cronin
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Jul 09, 2010

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A post-apocalyptic thriller where a military virus escapes and turns everyone into vampire-like monsters. The future of the world rests in the hands of a few holdout colonies of humans and one mysterious little girl.

A fast-paced page-turner of a thriller, this was a great book to read on a boring rainy weekend. As big a book as it was I could not put it down and ripped through it in no time at all. Despite its very strong thematic similarities to "The Stand", "The Road," and other similar dark post-apocalyptic fiction, there were still enough original ideas here to draw me in and keep me reading.

Parts of it are very well written. Many of the characters are well drawn. The pacing and tension is nicely done much of the time.

But.

On a whole it is a huge, sloppy, mess. The core set of good characters are swamped by large numbers of confusing, similarly named, one-dimensional characters whose subplots trail off or are irrelevant to the main plot. As quickly as the book moves when it peaks in the big action scenes the writing gets so choppy and jarring that I could not figure out what was actually going on. Some key action scenes happen off-camera, and we're left with long first-person expository diary entries explaining what happened. Argh. Slowing the pacing does not mean bringing the action completely to a halt.

The ending is particularly unsatisfying, not just because it became apparent that this is a setup for a trilogy (something I didn't know going in), but also because many of the characters' personalities and motivations suddenly changed, randomly, as if to force the threads of the plot to come together. I feels forced and manipulative on the part of the author. And even then some of the plot resolutions aren't resolutions at all, they pose more questions than they resolve.

At the least I think this book could have benefited from some much tighter editing, it could have been at least a third shorter, with many fewer characters and plots. Since it is a trilogy any of the major plots in this book would have served as a core plot, but there's just too much here.

I feel kind of like I just ate a dozen donuts all on my own. I enjoyed it while it was happening but the more I reflect on it I feel kind of queasy and unsatisfied.
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Katie Roberts My sister gave me this book to read last week. She had gotten it from my brother. "Read this book by the time I get back from camping." Okay. That was all it took to get me started. I read it in two days. I enjoyed the premise of how our world ends and the characters are truly memorable. Some parts were truly haunting. The end was definitely a setup for the next novel. I chastised my sister for luring me into this story. I also purchased the e-book for my husband. It's a book worth talking about. Now, on to the second book.


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