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The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage

by Justin Cronin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Passage (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,469440793 (3.91)1 / 430
  1. 754
    The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition by Stephen King (Jacey25, drweb, smiteme)
  2. 243
    The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro (kraaivrouw, smiteme, questionablepotato)
    kraaivrouw: Similar intentions and a lot more fun.
  3. 191
    Swan Song by Robert McCammon (Scottneumann)
  4. 143
    World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (divinenanny)
  5. 122
    The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Anonymous user)
  6. 122
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (divinenanny)
    divinenanny: Post apocalyptic dystopia
  7. 82
    Under the Dome by Stephen King (jlparent)
    jlparent: The Passage reminded me greatly of "Under the Dome", with its intense look at how people cope in a 'new' world. Obviously it's also is hugely reminiscent of "The Stand" as already recommended.
  8. 61
    The Green Mile by Stephen King (Thomas.Taylor)
  9. 40
    Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons (Scottneumann)
  10. 52
    The Walking Dead: Compendium One by Robert Kirkman (Jacey25)
  11. 20
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Both books are inventive dystopian novels of a future after a pandemic collapses civilization.
  12. 20
    Pure by Julianna Baggott (Suhani)
  13. 64
    A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. (readaholic12)
    readaholic12: post-apocalyptic multi-generational science fiction, cyclic history, human caused crisis
  14. 20
    Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry (Scottneumann)
  15. 20
    The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell (BeckyJG)
  16. 10
    Earth Abides by George R. Stewart (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: This classic dystopian novel explores the world after an unspecified apocalypse. Like The Passage, Earth Abides involves both the scavenging of the remains of civilization rather than production and a journey to see how others have coped. No vampires, though.… (more)
  17. 10
    The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (kw50197)
  18. 21
    The Keeper by Sarah Langan (bnbookgirl)
  19. 54
    The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (ahstrick)
  20. 10
    The Twelve by Justin Cronin (sturlington)
    sturlington: Well, you have to read the sequel!

(see all 30 recommendations)


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English (430)  Dutch (6)  Swedish (3)  German (3)  Danish (1)  French (1)  All languages (444)
Showing 1-5 of 430 (next | show all)
If you love epic horror and a great end of civilization novel, then Justin Cronin's THE PASSAGE is for you. I picked this book up a few years ago after hearing Stephen King rave about it and finally got around to reading the the nearly 800 page novel recently. I can say clearly that I had been missing out on one great horror/scifi/apocalypse mashup, the first book in what promises to be a trilogy. Cronin's style is not what genre fans have been used to, for his pages are filled with long paragraphs filled with descriptive sentences that build an absorbing universe in which the story takes place. Like all really good books, it's a story that works on more than one level; while it is a vampire apocalypse novel, it is at the same time a deeply moving love story about a grieving father for an adopted daughter and an epic saga on the human will not only to survive in the face of hopelessness, but to find a way to triumph against all odds.

As has been noted by almost every reviewer, THE PASSAGE, is divided into two parts, the first set in a familiar near future, one where New Orleans has all but been destroyed by repeated hurricanes and there is even more war in the Middle East, and where a very top secret medical research program, run by the United States Government, results in a viral holocaust, while the second part, set nearly a century into the future, recounts the efforts of a dwindling group of human survivors to find a cure for the virus that laid waste to North America, and by implication, most of the world. In those first two hundred plus pages, we meet Amy, a small child who has been abandoned by her mother and who has come to the attention of Project NOAH, the secret military operation badly in need of test subjects with no close relatives; Amy is the thirteenth such subject, the first twelves being death row inmates. It seems that a vampire virus has been discovered in the jungles of the Amazon and NOAH is seeking to refine it in order to create an immortal and indestructible soldier to better fight America's endless 21st century wars. But things do not go as planned, the twelve inmates mutate into telepathic killing machines who manipulate the minds of their guards into releasing them, whereupon all hell breaks loose. These creatures are filled with a craving for blood and possess super speed and strength, capable of shredding a human in seconds. They can also infect others with a virulent strain of the vampire virus that turns its victims into undying Nosferatu like creatures, clones of their creators without a will of their own. The Twelve soon have an army of millions bent to their will. Only Amy is spared this fate because-it is implied-she is "special." Destined to seemingly live on indefinitely, she is the salvation the future survivors need if they are to save their world.

The second half of the book picks up almost a hundred years after the end of civilization, where we meet a small community of survivors in the California mountains. They've hung on because they still have the electricity that gives them enough light at night to keep the Virals (vampires) at bay, but the aging generators in their power station are wearing out and the future looks bleak until Amy wanders into their midst and some of the younger members of the community realize they have a chance for a better life. But first they will have to journey to what is left of Project NOAH''s HQ in Colorado to learn the truth about how the world came to be in such a sorry state and to discover a possible cure for the virus. It's a trek across a ravaged country filled with twists and surprising revelations.

The first section of the book has a powerful narrative drive and a great central character in Brad Wolgast, the government operative tasked with collecting guinea pigs for Project NOAH; he's a tough guy with a tough past-he lost his only child to a deadly disease and now lives only for his work. He's the man who always gets the job done and doesn't care if he gets his hands dirty in the process. But Wolgast regains his humanity when he abducts Amy from a Memphis orphanage run by nuns and finds himself racked with doubt and guilt at the prospect of turning this little girl over to the ruthless men who run Project NOAH. Wolgast ultimately proves himself the hero, but not before NOAH blows up in everyone's faces.

Cronin does not give us a blow by blow account of the end of the world as we knew it, but through a fleeing Wolgast's eyes we get just enough information about the enveloping apocalypse to fill in all the blank spots as an army of superhuman and blood thirsty monsters spreads from Colorado to all corners of North America.

The second and longer part, is set in the West, where some survivors fled in the final days of the war; many readers have found this part too long, without the urgent pace or compelling characters of the first section. It does take it's time to set up the post apocalyptic world and introduces a whole new cast of people the reader has to get to know, but I found myself rooting for Peter, Michael, Alisha and Caleb once they were on the road to Colorado with Amy in tow. We are treated to a nightmare landscape of a ruined America, where the horrific end of the war against the Virals can be found everywhere-a library filled with the corpses of poisoned children and a stopover in Las Vegas which reveals how guests barricaded themselves in the hotels and played Russian Roulette as the city was overrun. Another community of survivors is encountered and we soon learn the horrifying price they pay to keep on living. And always there are the Virals lurking in the shadows and in the night, some under the control of the thing that was once murderer Giles Babcock, who makes all those who come near share his endless dream of matricide. But as monstrous as the world is, this hardy group manages to rise to the occasion, and with the help of some Texas militiamen (parts of the Lone Star state are still intact) reach their journey's end in Colorado where there is a measure of resolution and the table is set for the next installment in the trilogy titled THE TWELVE.

Any longtime reader of genre fiction will recognize many tropes from horror and science fiction in THE PASSAGE: the "special child" who will lead them, the haunted tough guy with a secret heart of gold, the top secret and nefarious government agency engaged in immoral experiments for selfish ends that all goes bad; the ruthless black ops guy who has no problem gunning down civilians in public on the spur of the moment when necessary; lots of able, brave and capable female characters, while all the villains are men. In an interview with Cronin at the end of my paperback copy, he freely admits to using them, admitting to how much he enjoyed their appearances in other works; but he clearly puts his own spin on them, making these characters and people much more than cliches. His Virals may technically be vampires, but Cronin makes them most unique to his own work and does a good job with the phony science necessary for this kind of story to sound real and plausible.

That's not to say there aren't a few logic holes and things left inexplicably unexplained-like how does Sister Lacey know to follow Amy to the Project NOAH installation in Colorado or why do the animals at the zoo react so wildly to Amy's presence? And there are more than a few plot threads left dangling to be answered in the next book: what happened to Grey after he was bitten by Subject Zero? What about Peter and Theo's father who just rode away? Who saved Theo and Mausami at the farm? All things that will have to wait.

In the era of THE WALKING DEAD, there has been a glut of apocalyptic fiction, and I will be the first to say that THE PASSAGE plows no new ground, but it's still a great and very entertaining read just the same. I could pick it up and in no time fly through fifty pages, which is a good thing in so long a book.

I am Babcock.
We are Babcock. ( )
  wb4ever1 | Aug 18, 2015 |
A few too many vampires for my liking. The story was compelling enough that I want to know what happens in #2, but not enough o read another 800 pages! ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
A few years back my wife received this book as a gift and just recently I picked it up because I was in the mood for something epic.

"I think you'll like it," she said to me.
"Well, did you like it?" I asked suspecting she had breezed through it in a week.
"I dunno. It started out great, but then the story jumped ahead into the future and got boring quickly."

The evidence, in the form of her old bookmark, was still there, tucked away on page 400-something.

I see what she means now. Cronin sets up a story so full of promise, and then about a third of the way in, poof, everything was swept away, literally and figuratively. Events fast-forwarded almost one hundred years while bringing on a whole new cast of characters. That's fine except I didn't care about this new group the way I did about the old group. And by the time a familiar face showed up again, it was too little too late.

My impression of those who enjoyed The Passage versus those who didn't is whether you like your stories character-driven or setting-driven. Think of it this way, which of these statements is truer? Characters add realism to a complex world or world-building adds verisimilitude to a cast of complex characters? Cronin spent so much writing capital building a post-apocalyptic Earth that I think he zoomed out too far from its characters, and subsequently lost a bunch of his readers along the way. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Jun 28, 2015 |
I love post-apocalyptic novels, but I'm struggling with this one. I don't understand the hype associated with this book...maybe I just can't get into a long paragraph describing a man lying on a bunk smoking a cigarette, thinking about nothing. I also don't like it when I get involved (finally!) with a character and they are killed off in the next paragraph. I've finished the first third of this book and started the second part, but it doesn't look much more promising.

Okay. I decided life is too short to waste any more time on a book I really don't like....There are too many books out there that are better fitted to my tastes. ( )
  Stembie3 | Jun 14, 2015 |
I was working in the library when this book came out, and I picked it up, read the inside flap, and put it back down about sixty times, it seemed like. It’s a vampire book. I’ve never been a vampire fan, and the few great vampire books I’ve read have pretty much exhausted me of the genre, anyway.

But after much wishy‐washing about ‘The Passage,’ it was recommended to me in glowing terms, so I finally took it home. And you know what? It’s freaking awesome.

My full review is here, on Hot Stuff for Cool People. ( )
  hotforcool | May 31, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 430 (next | show all)
I turned The Passage's pages feverishly to find out what happened next.
added by simon_carr | editThe Observer, Alice Fisher (Jul 18, 2010)
Cronin leaps back and forth in time, sprinkling his narrative with diaries, ­e-mail messages, maps, newspaper articles and legal documents. Sustaining such a long book is a tough endeavor, and every so often his prose slackens into inert phrases (“his mind would be tumbling like a dryer”). For the most part, though, he artfully unspools his plot’s complexities, and seemingly superfluous details come to connect in remarkable ways.

added by mks27 | editThe New York Times, Mike Peed (Jun 25, 2010)
When all's said and done, The Passage is a wonderful idea for a book that – like too many American TV series – knows how good it is and therefore outstays its welcome. There are enough human themes (hope, love, survival, friendship, the power of dreams) to raise it well above the average horror, but its internal battle between the literary and the schlock will, I
T MAY already have the Stephen King stamp of approval and the Ridley Scott movie-script treatment but American author Justin Cronin's 800-page blockbuster The Passage comes from humble beginnings.

"Every book starts somewhere and this came from a dare of a nine-year-old child," he says of his daughter Iris, who wanted a story where a young girl saves the world.

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Justin Croninprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schroderus, ArtoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When I have seen by Time's fell hand defac'd
the rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometimes lofty towers I see down-raz'd,
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the watery main,
Increasing store with loss, and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate
That Time will come and take my love away.

-William Shakespeare, Sonnet 64
For my children, No bad dreams.
First words
Before she became the Girl from Nowhere- the One Who Walked In, the First and Last and Only, who lived a thousand years- she was just a little girl in Iowa, named Amy.
He stepped into the stars.
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Book description
It's called Project NOAH: a secret government experiment designed to weaponize the human body. But this experiment goes horribly awry when twelve test subjects escape, spreading a virus that turns human beings into something else-something hungrier, deadlier, and seemingly undestructible. The thirteenth test subject, a six-year-old girl named Amy, is rescued by an FBI agent. Together they flee to the mountains of Oregon, cut off from civilization as the disastrous repercussions of Project NOAH are unleashed upon the world. The Passage creates an all-too-believable world dominated by fear and the need to survive, and introduces the strange and silent girl who may hold in her hands the fate of the human race.
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A security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment that only six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte can stop.

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