02 August 2010
Book Review: The Passage
Author: Justin Cronin
Publisher: Ballantine Books (Random House)
Release Date: 8 June 2010
Date Finished: 30 July 2010
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions, 42 Challenge, Sci-Fi Challenge, Hogwarts Reading Challenge,
The Short and Sweet of It
In this post-apocalyptic, generation-spanning tale, the world has been taken over by vampiric beings originating in government experimentation. The focus spans time from the origins of the virus through the aftermath of the outbreak, and on to the modified civilizations which attempt to survive in an altered world.
A Bit of a Ramble
What impressed me most was that the book read like YA with paranormal beings, a post-apocalyptic world, characters of varying age, simple but effective language, and so on; and yet, the book is firmly planted in adult fiction: allusions to or direct mention of rape, a focus on family and childbearing, a slow pace to the novel, majority of characters are adults, a plot that spans generations, and so on. Why am I mentioning all of this? Because I love it. I feel like Cronin has combined YA and adult fiction in this novel to create a style of book that really gets me geeking.
Speaking of the paranormal, I feel I should warn those who haven't read the story that this is not a "vampire book" - whether that makes you want to read the story more or less. Nor is it a zombie book, a walking dead book, etc. The 'virals', aka the bad guys, are not paranormal creatures in the common sense of the term. The true origin is never fully explained, but basically the government caused the outbreak by injecting test subjects (death row inmates) with a virus they found. Another distinction from the typical paranormal books is the lack of attention paid to the vampiric beings. The Passage stays focused on the human element, the human struggle to survive in a world built on fear.
My main annoyance with the story is the lack of clarity regarding certain issues. I understand the appeal of unanswered questions and their stylistic function, but The Passage includes quite a few open issues which I felt really needed answers - or at the least I felt it was something of a cop out to not offer a satisfactory explanation. To tell you any more would probably fall into the realm of plot spoilers, so I'll keep it at that. Since reading, I've found out that this is the first in a trilogy, and while I look forward to the remaining books, I have to admit that I kind of wish it had been a standalone.
The story has short chapters, well-paced sections, believable and well-constructed characters, and 766 pages. While other reviewers have stated they thought the story could have been trimmed dramatically, I disagree. The slow pace to a rather action-packed storyline appealed to me; sometimes reality is in the details, and it was this attention to detail that made the book feel like realistic fiction rather than SFF for me, and more adult than YA.
Despite my newfound desire to cull my shelves, this is one I'll be keeping as I can see myself reading the story again to pick up on some of the details I may have missed the first time around. Now, go out and get a copy so you can read it too.
The Filmic Connection
It looks like Ridley Scott will be directing the film with a tentative release date in 2013. 2013 also seems to be the year the final book in the trilogy will be released which seems so far away I could like totally die (possibly from valley girl syndrome in this case).
This Book Around the Web
If I've missed your review, let me know!
Rhapsody in Books; Estella's Revenge; Layers of Thought; Fyrefly's Book Blog; Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?; so many more people have reviewed this that I'm just directing you to the results page
Question: Are there any other books out there that have this wonderful combination of YA and adult fiction characteristics?