Okay, I’ve read THE novel of the summer. I’m still trying to figure out why it’s THE novel.
Justin Cronin’s The Passage has plenty of hype. But when you get right down to it, it’s really an over long post-apocalyptic SF novel. (Although for some reason the local library stuck a “Mystery” tag on the spine.)
I don’t want to take anything away from Cronin. After all, I did read the nearly 800 pages over the course of about four days (although they were mainly rainy and dreary ones). Yet it isn’t a book I would call “unputdownable.” The storyline isn’t anything new: U.S. Army experiments with virus on a dozen murderers on death row to create vampire-like super-soldiers. They escape and eventually infect almost all the U.S. population, turning 10 percent into creatures like them. Some 90 years later, a small group of survivors leaves their protective colony and battles against all odds to see if they can combat the creatures, accompanying a mysterious young girl who became the 13th test subject and has barely aged over the decades.
Admittedly, Cronin does a good job not only with the backstory but with describing survival in the aftermath and developing the characters. Yet parts of The Passage simply drag on a too long and, especially for this type of book, slow the pace. While many will find it an enjoyable read, it needed more blue pencil work. I know that will keep it off my books of the year list.
Of course, with all the hype, this is just the beginning. Two more volumes are planned and the film rights have already been sold. Given the recent popularity of post-apocalyptic and vampire lit and we may well be looking at a new franchise.
…the world beyond the Colony was an open grave of history no one even remembered.
Justin Cronin, The Passage