Book Review: The Passage by Justin Cronin

the passage cover

View from the window seat:
A military experiment goes wrong and soon the world devolves into chaos. As civilization crumbles, FBI Agent Wolgast and six-year-old Amy Harper Bellefonte, a patient from the doomed experiment, fight to survive in the now horrific landscape of the United States. Soon Amy’s journey takes her across states and through the decades as humans become prey. Amy may be the only one who can save a dying world.

Guys. GUYS. This book is amazing. It’s been on my radar for a while because of the whole hype machine. I’ve been holding out, though, because I was all, ughhhh another vampire book? But the other day I was browsing the shelves in Barnes and Noble and saw that it had been released as a Mass Market Paperback, so I decided to pick it up. I AM SO GLAD I DID THIS.

First and foremost, I was totally and completely wrong to call this just a vampire book, because The Passage is so much more. What I love so much about the beginning is the slow, creeping horror that builds as we learn new snippets of what exactly is going on in a remote part of Colorado. We’re introduced to characters like young Amy, daughter of a prostitute; Agent Wolgast, a man with regrets about what he’s done in the name of duty; Sister Lacey, a nun with a tragic past; and Anthony Carter, a man sentenced to death for murder. As these lives begin to collide, a sense of danger lurks in the background. I found myself reading with an almost impatient flurry. Though I knew what was coming in the broad sense, I couldn’t stop turning the pages, wondering how everything would connect.

And the characters! Such a large cast of characters, and yet each one is unique. I loved how every character had a purpose and role to play in the events that unfold. I also loved how the reader gets to experience different parts of the collapse of society through narratives of the people responsible for the catastrophe, the people in the immediate chaos, and the people struggling to endure a century later. The vampires themselves are characters, too. Instead of using the creatures as a nameless horror, the author manages to humanize them in surprising ways.

Overall impression:
In short, I was utterly blown away by the depth of the storytelling in the epic tale of The Passage.

Rating:
9

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