I read this one back in 2010, when it was first published, and I enjoyed it then. The sequel recently became available from my library in e-book format, and I decided to re-read the first one while I waited through the hold period for the second one.
I read Justin Cronin‘s The Passage as an e-book, and I’m happy to report that the Kindle version is just about perfect. I saw few typos and no formatting errors. The table of contents worked as expected, even with all the sub-chapters. It contains real page numbers, and is a long one, at more than 700 pages (or 17,000 Kindle locations).
In this case, long is good. It’s an engrossing story, and you won’t want it to end. I was concerned that it wouldn’t stand up to a re-read, but I enjoyed it just as much the second time.
The book is a post-apocalyptic vampire story with a few twists. When I say “vampire,” don’t get the wrong idea. Cronin’s vampires are virus-created monsters. No sexy, sparkly, angsty human-like blood suckers here. Cronin’s virals, as most of the characters call them, are killing machines that wipe out American civilization in a matter of months.
The book starts by introducing several characters, and by telling the story of how the virals are created and ultimately—accidentally—loosed on the world. Not surprisingly, they are the result of a military experiment gone bad. A nice touch is that the virals were created by infecting death row prisoners. Yes, as a reader, you can’t help but think, “This can’t end well.”
It has a few similarities to Stephen King’s The Stand, and if you’re a fan of King’s book, I think you’ll like this one too. Cronin does introduce some mystical elements and a “good vs. evil” theme, but, at least in this book, it’s not as big a part of the story as it was in The Stand.
About a third of the way through the book, Cronin fast-forwards almost 100 years into the future to show how humanity has fared (not well). The rest of the book takes place in the future, although eventually he ties it all back to the past.
For those of you who hate cliff-hanger endings and avoid starting series because of them, don’t worry. The Passage does come to a logical conclusion. The ending is satisfying, while leaving plenty of room for (and interest in) a sequel.
Speaking of sequels, The Twelve (Cronin’s sequel to The Passage) just became available for me to check out, and it’s up next on my reading list. I should have a review ready in a week or two, depending on how busy I get.