Chloe's Reviews > The Passage

The Passage by Justin Cronin
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Jul 19, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: blood-suckers, dystopian-fiction, horror, library_book, not-owned
Read from July 19 to 24, 2010

Changing seasons invariably bring a change to my tastes. Just as I put aside the dirge-like post-rock that soundtracks most of my winter in favor of breezy pop songs that make me want to skip down the street, so to do I put aside the dry contemporary fiction that is my usual bread and butter in favor of light popcorn reads that do little but excite the imagination and titillate my id. It's sort of like the literary equivalent of a Michael Bay movie. Just as I am confident in stating that LCD Soundsystem's new record, This Is Happening, is the summer jam of the year, so too am I confident in claiming that Justin Cronin's The Passage is the can't miss beach read of the year.

Cronin's vamps are feral beasties with fleeting shreds of their humanity left, their wills subverted and bent in order to serve one of the original dozen vampires- former death row inmates turned test subjects in a government experiment. A bit long in tooth, the book spends the first 200 pages detailing the origins of this experiment and the two FBI agents assigned first to convince inmates to sign over their lives to the program, then when these test subjects turn out to be unwieldy, to procure an innocent to test their serum on. This innocent, Amy, of course turns out to be the key to everything.

Naturally everything falls apart and the vamps escape, laying waste to the nation faster than you can spell nosferatu. Herein lies my major problem with the book, and it's more a complaint of personal taste than anything else. I wanted to hear more about the initial fall, I wanted to read about pitched battles in the streets against ravenous hordes of undead monsters. Instead Cronin leaves us to piece it together from scattered newspaper accounts, military reports, and recollections of survivors decades after the fact as he shifts the time-line forward to a hundred years after the fall to one of the last remaining bastions of humanity. Kept alive by an aging bank of lights and an enormous wall, these survivors stumble across the now immortal Amy, struck mute by amnesia after a century of wandering alone, and decode the RFID chip implanted in her neck asking her to be returned to Colorado in order to manufacture a cure to the vampiric plague. What follows is an intense and unforgettable journey across the rubble of American civilization and the uncountable risks the weary band come across along the way.

It'd be easy to deride this book as just another in the long line of vampire schlock flooding the shelves in order to sate our seemingly never-ending romantic obsession with allegorical death had Justin Cronin not taken the trope to a whole new level by melding his vampires with a fascinating post-civilized America, all the tropes of a good road novel and main characters so fleshed out that they often seem startlingly human. This is a far cry from the soap opera machinations of Charlaine Harris or the Victorian primness of Stephanie Meyer and I can not wait for the inevitable film adaptation- if only for the scene featuring the high velocity escape by train that marks the high point of the book for me. I couldn't put this tome down and wish there were another 700 pages to immerse myself in.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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The Book Whisperer (aka Boof) Oooh, what do you think so far Logan? I have this on my pile for this summer.


Chloe I've just barely cracked it open thus far, but it seems like it's going to be a fun read. I'll let you know once I make a bit more headway.


Crystal Awesome: you just send me on an iTunes quest for LCD! Thanks! :)


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