Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Passage - Justin Cronin

The Passage
Title: The Passage
Author: Justin Cronin
Publication Date: 6/8/10
Pages: 766
How I Found It: Kevin actually read it first! I picked it up randomly for him and ended up reading it, too.
Date Completed: December 20, 2014

Summary: Gosh, this is a hard one to summarize, partially because it's like two books in one. The first half explores the idea of a government science experiment gone very wrong. What started as a tropical virus has turned the death-row inmate subjects into, well, modern vampires. Spoiler alert: they escape and ravage the continent. The second half takes place decades later in one of the last remaining communities of humans in America. 

What I Thought: I have very conflicting feelings about this book. On one hand, I love Cronin's exploration of not only a dystopian world, but how it got that way. It could have been separate books, but I liked that it was all together. It made it feel more cohesive to me. On the other hand, vampires? I had no clue that's what I was getting into. He definitely shies away from any Dracula romanticism of them. The virals are vicious and blood-thirsty. At first I thought they were more zombie-like, but he definitely dropped plenty of clues by the end that they are vampires (fear of light, lack of reflection in a mirror, hanging upside down like bats, etc.).

Another conflict of thought came from Cronin's extremely detailed storytelling. Again, on one hand, I liked that he was so thorough. He explores so many angles of the story and the perspective of so many characters. On the other hand, it gets long and some characters are really unnecessary. At points, the cast list starts to feel cluttered and hard to keep track of. He jumps from character to character and then, sometimes randomly, he jumps to an almost news-like report of what's happening. I have never seen a style quite like his and I am just really torn on how I feel about it. I do know, however, that there were some stretches where I just had no clue what in the world was going on. I mean, no idea. That was frustrating. I got it eventually, but I don't like being confused when I am reading.

I did like the personal element Cronin brought to the story. He invested a lot in his characters and their relationships. In the face of a species of monster that, at least on the surface, has no emotional connections, human relationships proved a beautiful contrast. 

For me, I just cannot get off the fence on this one. There were things I liked and things I did not. I was curious enough to read the sequel (review coming shortly), but also would have been fine if I did not. There were just some weird quirks in both Cronin's style and plot that I struggled to overcome. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Unlikely
If You Liked This Try: Ender's Game / The Maze Runner / Wool

A Reduced Review: Justin Cronin approaches the vampire craze from a scientific and action front, rather than a romanticized one. The result is interesting and action-packed, but still has some flaws. 

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