Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Book Review: The Passage by Justin Cronin

So about two years ago, I checked The Passage by Justin Cronin out from my local library. Unfortunately, I had a lot on my plate and kept putting off reading it. I got through the first 200 pages or so, but eventually had to return the book because it had other holds on it and I just didn't have the time to finish it. I figured I would just go back and get it again in a few weeks.

Fast forward two years. I finally got my hands on the copy of this book again, and...I got busy again. Of course, it doesn't help that this book has large pages, small type, and still weighs in at 776 pages! It's a bit of a tome. But, I'm happy to say that I finally finished it. (Yea!)

What can I say about this book?

It was very different--almost like two completely different books in one. When first reading it, I got less than a third of the way through it, and the first part feels like a horror story. It has a very Stephen King feel to it. I assumed the entire book would be that way. I was wrong.

**What I'm about to say is a wee bit of a spoiler, though it's more about the format of the story than the actual plot. 

The horror in the first third of the book leads to the downfall of society. Roughly 250-300 pages in, most of the main characters we've been following so far die. Not kidding. Then, we fast-forward a hundred years to where these evil creatures, a man-made science experiment gone wrong, have made the population--both animal and human--scarce, and the survivors are in the throes of dystopia. 

End of spoiler. **

So, to my surprise, this book was dystopian at its core. I honestly didn't realize that before reading it. Cronin goes through the downfall of society before skipping to the actual dystopian story.

Now, you might think that would make the story excessive and over-written, and normally I would agree with you, but there's one reason that argument doesn't apply in this case: there is one character who survives throughout the entire novel! She'll turn out to be the key to entire story, which is why Conin did it that way.

I did have a few issues with this book. Aside from the overall length, the author's style is very blocky at times. We're talking half-page paragraphs, and that's with larger-than-usual pages and smaller-than-usual print. None of the writing was bad, but I think smaller paragraphs would have helped the actual reading to flow better.

The characters in the first third of the book were fabulously written! The ones that came in the second part of the story, one hundred years later...not so much. They weren't badly written in and of themselves, but I noticed while reading that it didn't matter whether it was from Peter's POV or Michael's, or even one of the older men. They all kind of seemed like the same person to me. Again, not a huge problem--didn't stop me from reading--but I would have liked a little more voice differentiation.

Aside from that, I still have to say that I really liked this book. The story was SO unique and SO intense. I just couldn't wait to see what would happen next. It's the kind of story that defies categorization and you never predict where it's going, but I never said, WTF. It was always more like, This is heavy. *turns page*

The creatures were somewhat vampirish, but not at all the sparkly variety. They have an animal sense about them, as if they have no intelligence, and yet they do. A terrifying kind. They get in people's heads and make they crazy, or tear them limb from limb in the flesh. (Please note this does have some adult stuff in it. No sex but plenty of gore and choice expletives.) 

I tried not to read it before bed, not because it actually made me afraid, but because it was so disturbing that I would think about it before sleeping and have bizarre dreams. And yet, could I stop reading?...That would be no!

Overall, I really loved the book. The author took a lot of the characters full circle and I thought the ending was very poignant. Of course, it didn't really end. Anybody read the sequel? I'm totally going to pick it up! I probably won't have time any time soon, but eventually I will. Can't wait to see what happens next.

If you like horror, vampires of the monster variety, or just epic dystopians, you'll like this novel. I'm glad I read it and look forward to picking up book 2.

Has anyone else read The Passage?

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