Epic, majestic, terrifying and engrossing. And heartfelt thanks to Amanda for pushing it in my direction!
These words perfectly define The Passage by Justin Cronin. A massive novel, coming in at 879 pages in paperback, the tale it unfolds is massive, engaging, and is almost mythic in nature.
With a vast cast of characters, most events have a young girl at their centre. Young Amy.
From a discovery in South America, to a biological virus injected into twelve death row inmates, the book takes us on a whirlwind journey that sees the collapse of most of Western society as a vampiric like plague sweeps North America emanating from a secret military base in Colorado.
The book takes its time, introducing us to a vast cast of characters, both before and after the outbreak, Amy, Lacey, Wolgast, Alicia, Peter, Sara, Micheal, Hollis, Theo, Mausami, and so many more. We get to know them all, knowing the events that shape them, their histories, their loves, their trials, and their fates.
The story unspools leisurely, but captures the imagination immediately, as we travel with these characters, experiencing the attack of the Virals, beings who were once human, but now are something more (and less).
There are conflicts, physical and emotional, and revelations both heart-warming and frightening as we join these characters on an sweeping adventure that is comparable to Stephen King’s The Stand or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, I barely knew anything going into it but for the fact that it was a bit of a vampire story, though unlike most you’ve read. They definitely ground the idea of the vampires, or Virals as they are called, a little more in the realm of science, but it all serves as set-up for the adventure, and horror of the story.
One of the things I enjoyed most is the way story threads (almost all of them) are tied up and called back to on occasion throughout the course of the novel, while setting up further threads that will no doubt come into play in the two subsequent novels.
I love crawling inside a lengthy novel like this, because for the time period that I’m reading it, it pretty much becomes my world. That always happens with a good book, but sometimes they end too quickly, whereas with an almost 900 page novel, you know you’re going to be spending time with these characters, so you settle into their world, become attached, and while you want to know how things play out, you hate when they come to a conclusion.
Thankfully there are two more books in the series, ready to go on my bedside book pile, and I will look forward to continuing the journey with Amy, Peter and all the rest.
I’m also interested to see what Ridley Scott’s company Scott Free does with it, as they have the rights to it. A television series, an epic television series would be the way to go I think…
If you’re looking for something enjoyable, engaging, and a little frightening, explore The Passage.