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The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage (edition 2010)

by Justin Cronin

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5,042410895 (3.91)1 / 386
Title:The Passage
Authors:Justin Cronin
Info:Ballantine Books (2010), Edition: First Edition, First Printing, Hardcover, 784 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Passage by Justin Cronin

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English (402)  Dutch (6)  German (3)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (413)
Showing 1-5 of 402 (next | show all)
[The Passage], the first in a series of books by Justin Cronin, is one of those epic and sprawling stories that is a comfort to settle into; one that seems like it may never finish, may go on and on and never cause you to be tired of it. It is a book where the author seems to have settled in with you, taken time to flesh everything out, follow every rabbit trail, describe every sense and every emotion in every setting. The spell allows a reader to completely forget the outside world and step into another, making friends of the characters, tasting and smelling and feeling what they do. But few authors are capable of casting that spell; and even fewer editors or book publishing houses are apt to allow an author to conjure such a spell, shooting instead for the comfort that comes of predictability and reading bytes – or bites, either word fits here.

[The Passage] starts with a virus discovered in the deep reaches of a tropical jungle by a scientist. The set-up sounds like any number of other thriller books or movies that have been churned out since 1980. But Cronin distinguishes himself and his story by taking the time to tell a whole story, instead of just writing one of those books that seems like the jacket copy or screenplay was written first and then sent to some hack to fill in. The scientist, James Lear, is distraught from the recent death of his wife from cancer and he hopes to cure the disease and any other that could take a loved one away before their time. He enlists the help of the military, always a sign of trouble to come. But again, Cronin distinguishes his story in the details, focusing on another lost soul, FBI Special Agent Wolgast, who is asked to convince 12 death row inmates to be the first test subjects of the virus. Wolgast’s pain and hopelessness ooze off the page. After Wolgast has succeeded, he is then asked to bring Amy, a six year old girl abandoned by her mother at a convent, to the secret Colorado complex where the virus is being tested. Soon after Wolgast arrives with Amy, the experiment goes awry, as was its destiny, and all 13 test subjects are released into the world. The world collapses into chaos, destruction, and death – the test subjects feeding on and infecting the rest of the country.

This by itself was a full book, a complete story, if a little dark and unhappy. But for Cronin, the first 300 pages was just the prologue. For the next 600 pages tell the story of the world that emerged from the chaos and destruction – a small compound of about 100 souls, protected each night from the ‘virals’ by walls and nets and lights, exiting outside of time and outside of any hope that life has continued elsewhere. Peter Jaxson, one of the young men of the compound, encounters Amy on a patrol outside the walls. Amy, now a 100 year old adolescent, follows Peter back to the village, and the ‘virals’ follow her. Peter and his friends let Amy into their world but death follows her, and the small civilization is again thrown into chaos. Peter and his friends discover some of what Amy is and decide to leave their safe haven for the site of Amy’s quickening, Colorado. On their journey, they discover that other pockets of human life have survived, though not all are hospitable.

None of this description of the Cronin’s story does it any justice, as the real beauty is in the unhurried and indulgent manner in which Cronin tells the story. Few authors take their time this way – recently, I’ve read Wallace Stegner’s [Angle of Repose] and there is any number of Stephen King books, including [The Stand], which Cronin’s book is often compared. If there is a comparison between King’s [The Stand] and Cronin’s [The Passage], it has to exist on a level besides the obvious – a virus causes the country to collapse and a new dystopian way of life emerges. It has to exist in comparing these author’s inclination to take their time, to draw the story out and tell all of it, every detail. No one will begrudge Cronin’s descriptions of place and time and feeling once they’ve given the story a hearing. And no one will begrudge him the time and effort in examining every detail of each character’s life, because they all are us – they are all the people we recognize in our lives every day.

Bottom Line: Epic story-telling – unhurried and indulgent in a way that comforts the reader, transports them to another place to commune.

4 1/2 bones!!!!! ( )
  blackdogbooks | Jul 4, 2014 |
Excellent read! The BEST book I have read in a long time, maybe ever! ( )
  BooksToBreathe | Jul 2, 2014 |
I was hoping for a thriller with some literary qualities, but instead The Passage was another in a long line of Michael Crichton/Stephen King page-turners. Not awful, but disappointing. However, it was interesting enough that I read the entire thing, though I did a fair amount of skimming towards the end.

Cronin knows how to write sympathetic and believable characters, but the plot fell apart about a third of the way in. ( )
  nsenger | May 23, 2014 |
It is a shame that Cronin had such a great book going in the first 200 pages - then simply killed off his character and started a whole new book 100 years in the future. Maybe he should have written a 200 page book, and left it at that?

I am calling this "The Age of Publisher's Betrayal of the Reader". It is apparently more important to the publishing houses to make buckets of money by overhyping than it is to produce readable books. They put forward huge marketing campaigns, get the word out there with paid reviewers, phony blog posts, etc. and start selling the books quickly enough that, by the time we discover what crap they are, it is already too late - the books are sold, the publishers have their money, and the rest of us are sitting here feeling used, abused, and not even kissed.

Something needs to be done to shake up the publishing houses, that is for sure. Maybe if everyone took all the books that are real stinkers, that came out with huge publishing campaigns, and sent them back to the publishers with demands for refunds, something would happen? LOL. As if. This is why I wait a considerable amount of time before I purchase "hot" books. There are WAY too many phony reviews out there for me to be comfortable spending my admittedly minimal 'entertainment' funds on a book that is going to disappoint. I would rather go back and read The Stand again than be disappointed by this book. After reading the reviews? I am glad I saved my two credits with Audible.com. Though I think Scott Brick could read the phone book to me and be worth listening to, i am sick of putting out my money to back marketing campaigns that support weak works of literature. ( )
1 vote soireadthisbooktoday | May 4, 2014 |
I take in book related podcasts, spend a lot of time on GoodReads.com and browse the web for upcoming releases that are setting the book industry ON FIRE. Therefore, I'm bound to be sucked into the hype machine that can surround some big releases. This year, I took in the first Stieg Larsson book, The Girl With [b:The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo|2429135|The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)|Stieg Larsson|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1275608878s/2429135.jpg|1708725] and loved it; the hype was worth it. I thought to myself, "Hey, maybe hype isn't all that bad." I haven't read nearly enough books to consider myself any kind of "book snob" but I wanted to curb those tendencies before they developed.

Therefore, on a recommendation by [a:Stephen King|3389|Stephen King|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1261866457p2/3389.jpg], I decided I should check out Justin Cronin's [b:The Passage|6690798|The Passage|Justin Cronin|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1275610576s/6690798.jpg|2802546].

To sum it up, Cronin jumps on the vampire popularity train that has been chugging along for the last 2-3 years. In what is explained as a ridiculous move by the U.S. government in an attempt to end the war on terror, they attempt to develop a serum of sorts that will enable humans to recover quicker from physical damage and essentially live longer. Like 900 years longer. However, we wouldn't have much of a novel if this experiment was successful now would we?

The first 1/3 of this book follows two government agents as they attempt to round up the final two subjects in the first round of testing. We get some background into who these subjects are; 12 death row inmates and 1 particularly strange little girl, as well as the moral dilemma that follows when one agent develops a soft spot for the girl; the daughter that he never had.

Something goes drastically wrong with the trials and the test subjects develop characteristics similar to vampires. They have an insatiable love for blood as well as the ability to leap, almost fly, long distances. They're also sensitive to light and seem to become almost invincible, aside from a strike to "the sweet spot" - an area somewhere in the center of their chest.

Without spoiling a lot of the events that unfold, know that the book drastically changes about 1/3 of the way in - fast-forwarding 92 years to a post-apocalyptic United States. The book then shifts to follow a small colony of human survivors as they fend off "the virals" - which now outnumber the amount of survivors.

That's pretty much all I'm going to say on the plot; I think it's better if you have a fair bit of ignorance going into it - as with any book.

Let me say that I LOVED the first 1/3 of this book. The origin story that establishes the fall of modern civilization, while not unique, is structured in such a way that it seems possible - which is frightening. I've always been known to be scared of a potential "super-bug" that would wipe out the human race; yes, this is coming from the guy who refused to take the "swine flu" vaccine because he heard it was not fully tested. I was positive the zombie apocalypse was imminent!

However, when the book switches - we're forced to once again invest in a new group of characters which involves a TON of individual back story that really bogs down the progression of the story. Yes, I understand that it's a trilogy in the making and that all of this is needed but I found myself just not caring; I wanted to read more about the characters from the first chunk of the book!

Granted, there were times in the when the action scenes were well paced and edge-of-your-seat intense, which saved the overall score but unfortunately could not bring me to rate it above 3 stars. Some of the dialog was a little hokey - hopefully Cronin works on that just a little before the next book is released.

That being said, the ending left me intrigued enough to seek out the 2nd book when it's released in 2 years. I have faith in Stephen King; with his firm recommendation on the back of this novel, he must see something in the author that I do not. Like most, I'll give Cronin the benefit of the doubt, hopefully he's headed somewhere fantastic. ( )
1 vote branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 402 (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.

(summary from another edition)

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