Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Passage by Justin Cronin

The PassageI don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that almost everyone has heard about The Passage by Justin Cronin by now. At least  the people in the booking world have. And for good reason now that I’ve read it myself. I’m not kidding when I say, I have been waiting for this book my whole life. Well, maybe I’m over the top a little bit :), but The Passage is such a book that will make you feel like this is it, you have found what you were looking for in the reading department.

Project NOAH was supposed to make U.S. soldiers invincible. The virus found in the jungles of Bolivia turns humans into powerful, indestructible beings but it also kills them shortly afterward. One scientist, with the help of U.S. Army is determined to make this deadly virus work for humans, not against them. The experiment conducted on twelve death row inmates takes a tragically wrong turn when the twelve subjects, who are now fully functioning virus carriers and no longer humans but vampires from your worst nightmares, escape and devour every living creature in their way.  Soon, the human species faces extinction and the only person that can save people from this fate is a six-year-old girl, Amy with the help of an FBI agent, Wolgast and a nun from Sierra Leone, Lacey.  Will Amy succeed and will humanity persevere or will the consequences of  trying to tame what cannot be tamed be finally too high a price to pay? Well, you just have to read The Passage to find out :).

I think I already made it pretty clear that I loved this book. I will say it again though, just for the effect, I LOVE THE PASSAGE!!!!! I have been on the lookout for mean, nasty and bloodthirsty vampires for the longest time. I will be honest with you here, I got really sick of the noble, out-of-this world beautiful creatures who drink blood only to survive but really are our best friends. This is not what you’ll find in The Passage. The vampires, or virals as they are called by some, are some mean SOB’s whose hunger takes over every other instinct and who are nearly indestructible. I guess I have a mean streak in me but I really enjoyed myself reading about them.  This book is actually pretty scary and I don’t say it lightly. I have read my shares of horrors and not much can scare me but Mr. Cronin did a pretty good job doing just that. I suppose, it’s mainly because all the time while reading The Passage, I kept thinking how the story might not be as far fetched as it seems on the surface. That possibility plus awesome action that stops only to allow a reader to take a short breath kept me literally on the edge of my seat. I swear to you, I had The Passage-related dream every night while reading it.

The Passage however, is not all vampires, action and nightmares. It is also a novel with some beautiful writing, sometimes almost lyrical prose that you normally wouldn’t look for in a horror novel. That’s why I even hesitate to label the book and categorize it in any one way. It’s a study of characters, of what people are really made of, it’s a scary look into what our future might be (whether the cause are vampires or some other nasty things we dabble in unnecessarily) , and finally it’s an enthralling ride that will take you places you never thought you wanted to go until you got there and will put in your path people you’ll love, hate and feel sorry for until you’ll realize you don’t want to part ways with any of them. And guess what, you won’t have to. At least not for long because The Passage is actually book one of a trilogy (YAY!). I am very happy that there gets to be more of Amy and a few other people that I can’t reveal here. Let me just say that I was very happy with the way things ended for now. Thank goodness, the ending was just as good as the whole novel and didn’t ruin the experience for me (it sadly happens more often than I care to admit). That’s that, I won’t sing any more praises and will just ask you to go and dive into The Passage yourself.

I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher, Ballantine Books.