The Passage by Justin Cronin (book review *SPOILERS*)

Happy Monday!

Spoiler Free Summary and Review:

This book should come with a warning: “Buckle up, this book will grab you by the FUCKING throat. Read at your peril.”

I read a lot(1) however it’s not often when I pick up a book that gives me problems, as in when I start reading the book I have such a strong compulsion to continue reading that I start stealing time from other things like sleeping or coursework(2).  That being said, I should say that this book is less of a page burner from page 1 but more of a shadow slowly stalking up on you until about page 241.  At the time, I didn’t realize it until about page 315 that I was screwed.

the passage

Cronin isn’t messing around with the “Something is coming.” subtitle.

At 963 pages, The Passage by Justin Cronin is a physically daunting book and it’s ambitious. The story takes place over the course of 97-1008 years depending on how you count, the setting spans most of the United States west of the Mississippi from New Orleans LA to Southern Oregon, and there are about 9 core characters.  This both works for and against the passage.

It can be exhausting keeping track of that many characters and the first and last part of the book has several separate story lines to keep straight.  Some of the characters and story lines I found more interesting and while nothing in the book is boring, some story lines felt jarringly interrupted by switching gears to other story lines.  However for the majority of the book when all the character arcs are plaited together it transforms into a tour de force of action, drama, intrigue, science fiction, fantasy, Gothic horror.  Highly recommended.

Footnotes:

  1. I average a book a week/300 pages.
  2. I lost 2 solid days reading 648 pages.

 

**SPOILERS BELOW**

Genres: Vampire Apocalypse, Hive mind, magical realism/deism?(1), Adventure, Thriller, Drama

3 sentence summary:

  1. Amy comes into a sad and strange world imbued with some strange given intelligence/perception before being infected with a virus that slows her age to near immortal, aging 10 years physically but alive for at least 97 by the end of the book.
  2. Same virus that made Amy something special made 12 monsters who have a infection rate of  1 in 10.
  3. The Americas fall as a united civilization and rebuilds in patches.

Favourite Scenes: 

  1. I really liked the carnival scene with Walgost and Amy.
  2. My heart broke during some of the domestic scenes with Theo and Maus especially the day they went fishing(2), chapters of their story were satisfyingly dramatic while being satisfyingly domestic to the justice of each characters.  Excellent balance.
  3. The train scene from about the time where Peter thinks “What am I doing here, what am I doing on the roof of a moving train…” until it crashes.  Supremely written action sequence.

Conclusion:

I loved this book but my main problem is the opening chapters with Amy and her mother.  I am not entirely sure what the violence against Amy’s mum contributed to the story.  I understand that we have to see that she didn’t come from a functional family life which maybe Cronin did to psychologically laid the ground work for Amy to be able to life a life where she will loose almost everyone she will ever know because of her projected age and be able to cope, however it did not help in selling me on the book.  I almost quit on it but I gave it the “30% rule”(3) and it paid off.  I’m looking forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy.

 

Footnotes (cont):

  1. I don’t know what to think yet, too early to speculate.
  2. I love how some parts are written, this story arc in mind, where when I remember it it is like a scene from a movie; the descriptions of scenes are so picturesque I like to think back on them as fond memories.
  3. I’ll give a book the first third to win me over, in this case 288.9 pages.
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