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The Passage (The Passage, #1)
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Lauren Smith | 6944 comments Starting Monday 10 September, Varla Fiona, Liezel and I will be reading The Passage by Justin Cronin. It's one of Emma's choices for the Deserted Island Challenge. Also, the sequel, The Twelve, will be published on 16 October. I think the third book is due in 2014.

Anyway, anyone else who's keen is welcome to join in, and I hope those who've read it will add to the discussion too!

There is no reading schedule, so I just ask that everyone begin their posts by stating where they are in the book, and use spoiler tags for any major plot points.

Happy reading!


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments Any first impressions?

I just finished Chapter Four

It's very American, and I can see where this plot is going, but it's not too bad so far. I only read the blurb once or twice and I don't really remember what it says, so the story is just unfolding naturally for me, although as I said I can see where most of it is going.

Sometimes I felt like Cronin was overdoing it on the characters' backstories (do we really need that much detail?), especially since the book is so long, but the stories aren't too bad.

It reminds me of Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon. It was one of our past group reads, but no one actually finished it. I only read a bit. It was also an apocalyptic American story with lots of characters and a young girl playing a major role.

By the way, does anyone know if you'd find the name 'Lacey' in Senegal?


message 3: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
My first impression is that you should be finishing Cry to Heaven! :P


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments LOL! I keep putting that off. I've read three or four books while busy with Cry to Heaven, and now I've started another two. But I'll get there eventually. Just 19% to go...


message 5: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
I saw! I got your updates and I was wondering what happened, because you read a lot of books but Cry to Heaven was not one of them. :)
At least try to finish it this week!


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments Everything else I've read is either more interesting or easier and quicker to read than Cry to Heaven. Will try to finish it soon though. I'm so sick and tired of it.


message 7: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
That is why you just have to push yourself to finish it, because if you don't do it this week, you will never finish it. Just set a schedule. 19% is how much? 120 pages? Just read 25 pages a day and you will be done in 5 days.


Emma (emmauk007) | 1081 comments Barbara were you a slave master in a past life? lol

Im also not one for long introductions Lauren but the stories never seemed to deviate from the main plot, and always added to it rather than distract. Its been almost 2 years since I have read The Passage and it is a long book but at no time did I get bored. I will try and comment as we go along.


message 9: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
I'll never tell! *grins evily*


Varla Fiona (Dory_42) | 1330 comments Mod
I had a crazy day yesterday (let's just say working for the government when your job means putting your life on the line is not a good idea!!) and didn't get to reading. Will start tonight!


message 11: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma (emmauk007) | 1081 comments Varla Fiona wrote: "I had a crazy day yesterday (let's just say working for the government when your job means putting your life on the line is not a good idea!!) and didn't get to reading. Will start tonight!"

Hmmm sounds like a synopsis from a spy novel;-)


Varla Fiona (Dory_42) | 1330 comments Mod
HeeHee, yeah. Not so interesting. I work with potentially lethal animals (venomous snakes) and the hospitals in town do not accept us for IOD because our Department hadn't paid...


Varla Fiona (Dory_42) | 1330 comments Mod
Chapters 1-5

I'm enjoying the story so , although it does feel like I have just started it due to the long introductions. I didn't feel like they dragged though and helped draw me into the world of this story.

The one thing I didn't like was the scene with the bats in Chapter 2. I really like bats and feel they get a bad rap for no reason, like sharks and snakes and so many other awesome misunderstood animals who don't fit into the normal cute and cuddly category.


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments Varla Fiona wrote: "Chapters 1-5

I'm enjoying the story so , although it does feel like I have just started it due to the long introductions. I didn't feel like they dragged though and helped draw me into the world o..."


I know! I'm 175 pages in according to my Kindle. That's the length of some novels, and at least half the length of most novels, but so far the main plot has only been hinted at. Then again, my Kindle gives a page count of 1132, so there's a LONG way to go. I like it though, and I'm finding it very easy to read.

Finished Chapter 7
This will sound mean, but I really wanted Wolgast and Doyle to capture Amy. I know it's horrible for her, but I thought if this is going to be Nun on the Run with a kid the government wants it's going to be really boring and the agents will end up catching her anyway. Plus I want to know what Lear's going to say about her when he starts studying her and see what effect the virus will have on her.


Liezel (liezkl) | 722 comments up to chp 5

I'm enjoying the story even though there are times when I want the story to move a quicker and get to the 'real' story. But I agree that the back stories are interesting and it doesn't feel as if the story is dragging along.

@Varla Fiona, I was thinking the same thing about the bats, being maligned as dangerous bloodsuckers again. I think we can blame Dracula for that :)


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments I have to admit, I usually feel sorry for animals who are used as monsters in horror movies. I was rooting for Godzilla, the snake in Anaconda and the crocodile in Lake Placid, even though I knew it was pointless. I like bats too, although some of them are really ugly and I'd probably freak out if I saw one.


Varla Fiona (Dory_42) | 1330 comments Mod
Chapters 6-12

Although the story is moving along and I am enjoying it, I am still waiting for the action to start!

I loved the scene in the zoo with the Polar Bears, but after that the zoo scene was terrible for me. I work in a zoo environment so for me I saw that scene from a zoo keepers perspective and it must have been terrible for them to have to try and deal with the chaos and have to actually shoot some of the animals they spend their lives looking after.

I want to know what Amy is... They allude to it but have not yet revealed what on earth they are talking about!!!


message 18: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma (emmauk007) | 1081 comments Trying to remember a film I watched that had a very familiar scene in it, where a child goes to the zoo and the animals go berserk.


Varla Fiona (Dory_42) | 1330 comments Mod
Yes, please remember it so I know not to watch it!!


Varla Fiona (Dory_42) | 1330 comments Mod
Just started Chapter 14 and the action has arrived!!!


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments Yay! I better get reading again. I took a break to finish Cry to Heaven.


Varla Fiona (Dory_42) | 1330 comments Mod
Chapters 13-19

(view spoiler)


Liezel (liezkl) | 722 comments Up to Chp14

So the question is, what exactly is Amy?

(view spoiler)


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments Halfway through Chapter 15

Finally, some actual horror scenes. The first one since the opening was 24% in.

@Liezel: (view spoiler)


message 25: by Liezel (last edited Sep 17, 2012 06:38AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Liezel (liezkl) | 722 comments (view spoiler)


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments Well Cole died in the jungle, long before they started experimenting on the twelve, and I think Cole was the first person in the novel to use the word 'vampire', so I think both he and Richards knew the consequences, although Cole was obviously optimistic but Richards was not. Although, as you say, Richards is just willing to do as told regardless.

(view spoiler)


Liezel (liezkl) | 722 comments Totally forgot that Cole joined Lear & co., only remembered him recruiting Richards.

(view spoiler)


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments I remember the zoo thing, but because she's so quiet I just assumed she doesn't really know how to articulate herself in terms of what she is, beyond some kind of understanding that she's not normal. But now that I think about it, I underestimated her, because you can see from the time she spent with Wolgast at the fair that she's quite smart and adaptable. I guess that, at some point, she'll start talking about whatever abilities she has.

(view spoiler)


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments Varla Fiona wrote: "Chapters 13-19"

(view spoiler)


message 30: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma (emmauk007) | 1081 comments The jump 100 years ahead also shook me up a bit the beginning of this second part was rather long and I did not understand what the next 500 pages would be about. Luckily the slow part only took 100 pages and in them this new world becomes familier. And after that is gets rather exciting and unexpected things happen.


Varla Fiona (Dory_42) | 1330 comments Mod
Sorry, I've been busy with some other stuff and haven't read much else. Will read more now and commentmore tomorrow...


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments About halfway through Chapter 25

I think it's odd that we learned ages ago what the title of the second book means, but we still don't know what 'The Passage' refers to. Or at least I don't. There was a quote that uses the word passage though:
You who do not remember
Passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice


So perhaps The Passage refers to the transition from vampire back to human, or something like human?

(view spoiler)


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments By the way, does anyone find this scary?


message 34: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma (emmauk007) | 1081 comments Hi Lauren this is what wikipedia had to say regarding The Passage and what it refers to.

Cronin first began developing his ideas for The Passage in 2006 when his daughter asked him to write a book about a "girl who saves the world." He set out to write a book that combined elements of multiple genres, most predominantly horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Cronin wanted his vampiric creatures to seem like real-world organisms that might have inspired the vampire stories he knew from his childhood and the vampire-like creatures found in the folklore of numerous cultures. Cronin described writing the book as feeling "natural", and having come "very quickly".[2] Cronin said that the title is a reference to the characters' journeys, and the journey "from life to death". Cronin said that many of the places featured in the novel were selected because they were places he had lived, and that he decided to "travel every mile my characters did, in order to capture not only the details of place, but the feeling of place.


Liezel (liezkl) | 722 comments Up to Chp 24

(view spoiler)

I dont think the book is scary. For me I think it's because the only character at this stage that I feel strongly about is Amy and I dont feel any fear on her behalf since she can obviously look after herself. Also, the attacks on the sanctuary have so far been random, with only a few groups trying to get in.
The situation is somewhat scary if you think about it, being hunted by something stronger and faster than you and for those who know...what happens when the lights go out.


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments (view spoiler)

I agree with you about the book not being scary - it's a scary situation if you think about it, but not a scary story. For me, it's too remote. The stories I usually find scary in books and movies are the ones where monsters and serial killers come into your home, and since my home is not in a post-apocalyptic colony. the whole scenario doesn't bother me too much.

I think I actually cared more about Wolgast than Amy, and I don't care much about her anymore. As you said, she can take care of herself.


Varla Fiona (Dory_42) | 1330 comments Mod
OK, I'm finished. Kept meaning to comment and then reading instead. Got to think before I comment on the book much, but initial thoughts include:

Why did I sign up to read about vampires? Not my usual choice at all. At least it wasn't sparkly vampire wannabes, which is what put me of vampire stories in the first place.

I think I liked the book, but not sure on that fact as there were times when I just wanted to get it finished so I could read something better. Will not be a favourite but I think I will probably read the sequel at some point.

@ Lauren, I agree that it wasn't scary to me but must have been a really scary place to be from within the story.

Will be back with more thoughts one they are processed...


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments I'm in the middle of Chapter 55 (78%), but I'm not about to discuss any spoilers.

Lots of action at the moment, but I'm a bit underwhelmed. After all the hype about this book, I was really expecting something a bit more unconventional. It's not a bad book, but it's sort of ordinary in many ways - military experiments with a dangerous virus; viral outbreak; infectious monsters; post-apocalyptic survivors; a unique human who can save them all. I mean, I've already seen all the Resident Evil movies.

In the book's defence, it's not nearly as stupid as those movies, but I'm wondering what made it so popular. Is it because it's so character-based? Is it because it's so long? So descriptive of the USA? Is it the religious undertone?

Why did I sign up to read about vampires? Not my usual choice at all. At least it wasn't sparkly vampire wannabes, which is what put me of vampire stories in the first place.
Ugh, I really hate what Twilight did to vampires. You're not the first person I've heard say something like that. I like vampires, but whether or not there's romance involved, they better be violent, dangerous creatures, not glittering celibate stalkers.

With the exception of The Twelve, these are sort of vampire zombies, since they don't have much left in terms of mental capacity and tend to attack in groups.

I was hoping Amy would be creepy, and that she'd have more vampire traits. Scary children make for really great horror.


Liezel (liezkl) | 722 comments I was hoping Amy would be creepy, and that she'd have more vampire traits. Scary children make for really great horror....

Very true


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments Ok, I've finished.

Overall, an easy enough read, but very long, and toward the end I felt that the book was really starting to drag. I didn't mind the large cast of characters at first, but towards the end I wish some of them had been jettisoned. I really think (view spoiler) could have been left out of the story once they decided to stay behind.

I'll organise my thoughts and write a review, but for now, just a few notes.

I'm upset that the novel went from being sci fi and became fantasy or science fantasy. Since the beginning I'd been waiting for a more detailed explanation of the virus - how it worked, it's physiological effects, more info on Fanning, and most importantly, why it doesn't have the same effect on Amy. The Wikipedia plot summary says it's because her immune system is not mature yet, but was that in the book? I don't remember it. Also that's a bit boring. I thought it was because she possessed some kind of special power from the start (which is also never discussed).

(view spoiler)

I'm not sure I want to read the sequel. I thought this book was too long, and too vague about the viral plague, going from a sci fi approach to a spiritualist fantasy one. It also seemed to unravel a bit as we got closer to the end - it started to feel random and all over the place. Also, I didn't care about any of the characters very much. If they had died, I would have been upset about it.


Liezel (liezkl) | 722 comments Finished

Easy read, but also left a lot of things unanswered.
I think Cronin sometimes went into too much details with some of the characters, esp those at the colony, but I suppose if you look at Emma's extract of what the Passage is about (the journey from life to death), it makes sense because that was definitley his focus.

He didn't answer the questions he should have, Amy being a case in point. Why do the whole zoo scene to show that Amy is different and then offer no further comment on what that difference is. And then there's Lacey, was her character really necessary (except from the spiritual point of view), why did she have to go to the compound in the first place, Doyle could have helped them escape and would have preferred that Lear inject himself and maybe we could have had some real answers about Amy and the virus. Also why distinguish between Zero and the Twelve, but not explain why.

@Lauren

I dont buy the whole thing about Amy's immune system, I think Cronin created the illusion that Amy was different but then couldn't explain why or how (or maybe it's in the sequel, or is that just wishful thinking :)). I was upset about Lear as well, I also felt thought it was strange that the only things he kept were profiles on the test subjects and not his observations/notes on the testing.

Was disappointed to realise that the answer to the question of Who am I, was the identities/ souls of the vampire.

Alicia joining the army - very random, didn't see the point except to explain why they went their seperate ways.

I thought Conroy would act as an 'early warning system' against the virals (by barking, not his dead body being found), why bring him in just to kill him off:( And how did Galen Strauss end up at the farmhouse, was Maus his 'homing beacon'.

The most frustrating thing was Amy destroying the vials....WHY. Was it just to stop Peter or all of them from turning. At the end she hints that Peter is different.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this book. Some parts I liked, but there are too many loose ends. I probably will read the second book, only because I want answers.


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments I agree with you Liezel - way too many loose ends.

I think Cronin sometimes went into too much details with some of the characters, esp those at the colony, but I suppose if you look at Emma's extract of what the Passage is about (the journey from life to death), it makes sense because that was definitley his focus.
I don't know if he needed that much detail. To my mind, the passage refers to
1. The long physical journeys the characters embark on and
2. The process by which the zombies die which involves Amy returning their souls/identities to them.
I don't think Cronin really needed to give us so much detail of his characters' lives before they died, especially since he doesn't really describe the process of dying; most characters die suddenly and quickly. I mean, I wouldn't say that this is a book about life and death; it has no interesting insights, it doesn't make me think about those things. It's like any movie/novel with a high body count.

I think Lacey could have been omitted. Lear could have provided all the practical information she gave Peter and Amy, and devised a way to kill Babcock. The only real advantage to Lacey's character is that she has some weird psychic ability, which allows her to call to Babcock (but not to Amy, it seems).

Amy's mother was mostly unnecessary too. I liked her story, and that we're made to understand why she abandoned Amy, but ultimately most of her story had absolutely no significance for the rest of the novel. It's not like she, he father, or Amy's father showed any kind of unusual power that explains Amy's abilities.

Why do the whole zoo scene to show that Amy is different and then offer no further comment on what that difference is. [...]would have preferred that Lear inject himself and maybe we could have had some real answers about Amy and the virus. Also why distinguish between Zero and the Twelve, but not explain why. [...] I was upset about Lear as well, I also felt thought it was strange that the only things he kept were profiles on the test subjects and not his observations/notes on the testing.
Yes! Why make Amy different and then say the virus reacted to her the way it did because of her immune system? That means they could have used any child. What's up with Zero/Fanning? Why didn't Lear think to leave more information, about the effects of the virus, what exactly happened in Bolivia, etc. And how the hell did they decide they wanted Amy for their experiment? How did they even know she existed?

The only reason I can think of for destroying the virus is that it can create the supersoldiers the army wanted in the first place, which is what created all this trouble. On the other hand, some supersoldiers would be useful in killing the rest of the vampires. How can they rely on Alicia alone?


Liezel (liezkl) | 722 comments Lauren wrote:
I mean, I wouldn't say that this is a book about life and death; it has no interesting insights, it doesn't make me think about those things. It's like any movie/novel with a high body count."


I didn't think it's about life and death either...more that 'life's a journey' and thats why he provided so much details on their lives. I sometimes thought he got too caught up in the little things that went on in their lives. it was a bit too much detail. I must admit that I also had visions of Resident Evil as I was reading it, I couldn't think of the virals as vamps.

I now know why the soldiers are here
It really bugged me that nothing further was said about what they found at the site or how Lear & co got out of there.
Also how do you get from bats attacking people to the creation of vamps. Because if the bat bites are creating the vamps, why was it isolated to the jungles of Bolivia. Or does the virus relate to something they found at the site. Was there a setup similar to the Haven since this would explain the statues.

I guess I'll have to read the next book and hope that there are some explanations.


message 44: by Liezel (last edited Sep 25, 2012 11:07AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Liezel (liezkl) | 722 comments hahaha.....just saw the comment below on someone's review of The Passage.

It comes in like a vampire thriller and goes out like a batty soap opera.


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments Lol, that's a great comment :)

I think authors have to be very careful with little details. It can be interesting and engaging, or it could be boring and make the book way too long. I think maybe the problem with Cronin's is that they're mostly mundane. They don't make you pause because they're really sad/funny/quirky, etc.

I now know why the soldiers are here
It really bugged me that nothing further was said about what they found at the site or how Lear & co got out of there.

This bothered me a lot too. All that mystery. Did he just forget about it because the book was so long?

I think there might have been something about vampires living at that site. There was one bit about a tour group of cancer patients or something getting lost. Only a few were found, and although they'd been infected and their cancer had disappeared, they died soon after. The rest formed some vampire colony at the site. I don't know if I got this from the novel or the Wikipedia page. Either way, the bat/vampire connection is still thin. I can accept that it's limited to the jungles of Bolivia though - perhaps that's the only place that species of bat lives?

By the way, does he mention what happens to South America?


Liezel (liezkl) | 722 comments Probably from wikipedia, I dont recall seeing that in the novel, except the part about the cancer patients. I actually thought that it was just a story Sykes told Wolgast to get him to join the project.

I was also wondering about South America, considering how close they are, I was surprised that no mention was made of them. There is only a brief mention of the virus spreading to parts of Europe.


Lauren Smith | 6944 comments It wasn't the Wikipedia page. I was going over my highlights, and someone mentioned something about undead tourists at the site.

I think this would make a better movie than it does a book, because they'd be forced to cut a lot of the content.


Liezel (liezkl) | 722 comments Think you're right about the movie.


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