The Passage

The Passage
by
Justin Cronin

The Passage is 800 plus pages of post-apocalyptic America woven in a tapestry of threads Americans know and love. It is tailor made for transition to a television series…it comes as no surprise that is what has happened. That said, it only seems fair to admit that I generally do like made for television stories. Did I like The Passage? Read on.

The apocalypse is kicked off by, you guessed it, the government run amuck and experimenting on people. The genie escapes the bottle using mind control and soon the experiment-gone-wrong is killing off the population wholesale. The vampire like creations the government unleashed appear more like Nosferatu of silent film that the sparkling vampires of Twilight and with a more voracious appetite.

Escaping with the virals, as they are called by some, is a young girl named Amy. She was caught up in the experiment as a guinea pig, but the outbreak occurred before she was completely transformed. Her rescuer, FBI Agent Wolgast, is probably the most likable human in the book and, of necessity, gone too soon. Predictable, but well done despite a choppy first few chapters to introduce the players.

Jump ahead nearly a hundred years to the First Colony huddled in fear of the virals outside their walls and sleeping with the lights on. Living there is the aged Auntie, either senile, all knowing, or a lovable, frustrating mix of the two. Alicia is another orphan girl, this one raised by the reclusive Colonel to the I’m more of a man than all the guys, gung-ho viral killer and youngest Captain ever. The protagonist, Peter Jaxon, is predictably unsure of himself and overshadowed by his older brother Theo. He eventually finds himself pushed to the foreground as the novel goes on as heroes should be.

Amy’s arrival at First Colony is the catalyst for the viral’s break through and eventual destruction of the colony which sets Peter and his friends on a journey half way across the country. The story of the colony’s collapse and the journey draws the reader in and puts you right alongside the players. Their trials and victories are well balanced keeping the reader cheering and saddened as they go.

The whole book dies around page 837, caught in the tarry morass of “ to be continued.” I did take away one valuable thing from the ending…I won’t be buying The Twelve, the next book in the series.

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