Thursday, October 3, 2013

Book Review: "The Passage"

"The Passage" by Justin Cronin
First published in 2012
784 pages
My rating: 5 out of 5
(image source)

I finished "The Passage" -- the first book in a planned trilogy -- over a week ago, but I've been delaying sitting down and writing a review. I think it's because there was so much going on in the book -- so many characters and viewpoints and subplots -- that summarizing this apocalyptic epic is a bit overwhelming!

The book opens in the near future, when a military human-weapons experiment conducted on death row inmates goes terribly wrong, releasing 12 vampire-like monsters into the Colorado wilderness. Before long, most of the North American population has been killed or infected by the "virals."

We then jump forward over 90 years to a small colony in California, originally a survivors' camp set up by FEMA in the midst of the disaster. Peter Jaxon is our main protagonist here, and while reading about the post-apocalyptic day-to-day life of the colony's residents is fascinating, it shortly becomes clear that Peter and his friends have a higher purpose.

Just as life at camp is suddenly and rapidly devolving into chaos, the impossible -- immortal -- Amy appears at their doorstep. At just 6 years old, Amy was the last test subject in Project NOAH, the military's catastrophic experiment. She appears to be a regular teenage girl, except she's 100 years old and holds a sort of mental power over the other virals. Most importantly, she -- and Peter -- may hold the key to saving humanity.

Fans of fantasy, dystopias or shows like "The Walking Dead" should love "The Passage." Though it was long, the shifting points of view and action-packed storyline kept me riveted page after page. I also found the writing to be easy, interesting, skillful and full of clever analogies. I will definitely be continuing the adventure with Peter, Amy and their crew soon with "The Twelve," the second novel in the series. Book three comes out next year, and a movie version of "The Passage" is already in the works.

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