Book Review: The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage by Justin Cronin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher:  Ballantine Books

Summary:   “It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.” 

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

I finally finished! I didn't read any reviews before embarking on this journey but now that I've got through it, I have to agree with many who've said that it's fabulous for the first 250 or so pages & then it falls off dramatically before picking up again for the last 300 or so pages. This middle bit felt muddled & middling to me, so that severely slowed down my progress (I kept putting it down) but eventually I got through it & I have to say that it was well worth it in the end.

The beginning is where we meet our mains & find out about the government research that creates The Twelve. This was a wonderful read & moved along quickly. The characters were compelling & there was a good forward momentum of the story. The first section ends with our main characters Amy & Wolgast in a doomed scenario & it was really heartbreaking.

The next part takes us ninety-five years into the future with a whole crop of people we've never met and who have no connection to the people we learned about in the first part, except that their progenitors survived the catastrophe. It was difficult to plug into this bit because it not only felt extremely abrupt but it was a bit of a soapy slog learning about the outpost/town & its people, their connections, etc. I really didn't care & there were too many of them who were indistinct for a lot of the time to really make a strong impression initially. It was a complete change in tone & momentum from the first part as well & I admit that I was a bit resentful of this shift as I trudged along.

But eventually, I learnt the names & the situation of dire straits began to emerge. It was a bit of a snowball effect that it all began to come together & I began to get into the pace of this part of the story & as much as I hadn't expected it, I began to like it quite a lot. There's something that happens that's too spoileriffic (around pg 346; hardcover) for me to divulge but it really helped me to dial back into the story in earnest. The remainder was very good & after all was said and done, I will definitely read the next in the trilogy.

I did think the "new" profanity was a bit silly. In ninety or so years, the f-word is replaced by "Flyers". Why have anything at all? It made no sense to me, especially since they had so many novels around and would have come across actual expletives from the Time Before. Then again, "children" had been replaced with "Littles" but no explanation was given as to why they actually made the connection to call a kid who had a penchant for name brand hightop sneakers, "Hightop".

No comments