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CBR4 #10: The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage is sort of a book about vampires. It's kind of like 'Salem's Lot, but on a world-wide scale. It's also sort of a book about post-apocalyptic life, and how humans will survive when life as they know it suddenly ceases forever.

There are three main sections to this story. The first takes place in modern times. In the mountains in Colorado, the government is working on a special secret experiment. A group of scientists brought back something potentially revolutionary from the Amazonian jungle. Unfortunately, it's more dangerous than they'd realized. And it's not helping that they're testing it on death row inmates. Agent Brad Wolgast and his partner are tasked with going and getting the inmates to volunteer for the trial, which doesn't bother him too much. When the next target turns out to be a little girl, though, he begins to have second thoughts. And that's right about the time things go haywire.

The next section is set a hundred years in the future. It focuses on a young man named Peter who lives in a small fortified community. The middle chapters are a lot of exposition about what happened during the cataclysm and how Peter's world has come to be. It's frankly a little draggy, and I wished the author would have perhaps cut it down just a bit. Although it's interesting to see how different life is for Peter versus the way things were for people in the first section, not a lot HAPPENS. It's not until the third section, when Peter and a group of adventurers set out on a quest that things begin to get interesting again.

Except for the aforementioned slow middle, this was a great book. The characters were well-detailed, and even though there were quite a few of them, they all were distinctive. The plot was put together well, and it kept me interested nearly all the way through. Even during the slightly dull parts, I kept reading because I was so invested in the characters that I HAD to know what was going to happen to them. There were some predictable moments and also some cool surprises.

Apparently Justin Cronin is at work on a sequel, and if that's the case I am very much looking forward to it.

Comments

Mike C said…
I read The Passage last winter, and I think I had a really similar reaction, only in inverse proportions--while I really liked the first section and the last leg, the middle section was so jolting and uninteresting after I got invested in the present-day stuff that I just felt really alienated from the book as a whole, like I couldn't trust the author anymore.

Of course, the interesting thing is that when I heard a sequel is supposed to be published this year, I was far more interested than I would ordinarily be for a novel I was lukewarm on. I suppose that says something for how engaging the good parts were.

Anyway, interesting, as always, to read your thoughts. I hope you're well!

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