Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Passage, by Justin Cronin

I first heard about this book on Good Morning America last week. The author, Justin Cronin, is being touted as the next Stephen King. This wouldn't be the first time I've heard this, and I'm sure it won't be the last, but when Mr. King himself chimed in on a telephone interview, my mind was made up. I ordered it from Amazon that night.

The Passage is not just one story, it's several, looped together and knitted in to give you a three-dimensional view of a whole new world. It follows the end of civilization as we know it, due to government development of a recently discovered South American virus. Those infected with the virus heal within hours, regain their youth, and become virtually immortal. There's only that pesky bloodlust thing to deal with.

The government collects people with no ties, no family, no one who will miss them to test their virus on; mainly death row inmates, but they include a little girl abandoned at a convent by her mother. And then, of course, the monsters escape.

Fast-forward one hundred years, to the remains of civilization, hanging on by mere threads, at the mercy of the vampires which surround them after dark, when a man named Peter makes a discovery which could be the last hope of humanity.

What I Liked:
If I hadn't heard Stephen King on the phone with Mr. Cronin during GMA, I would swear he'd died and this new author was channeling his spirit, the style is that similar. And just when I thought there weren't any new ways to twist vampires, Justin Cronin gave us a whole new perspective. It's probably the most believeable vamp world I've read yet. The characters are realistic and engaging, and I was very impressed by Mr. Cronin's research. The guy did his homework, and it shows.

What I Didn't:
It's ssssllllllloooooowww. The action really didn't start until page 250, and it was page 400 until it really started to take off (the book is 784 pages long). But once it did take off, Dale Earnhart couldn't have caught up with it. And in defense of the slow pace, there are two more books planned for this series, and it's a richly detailed book with an ensemble cast. A lot of groundwork needed to be laid.

This is a great book for a mature, patient reader with an appreciation for well-developed worlds and characters. Kind of like a good lasagna or shepherd's pie; a lot of work went into that careful layering, and a true aficionado will appreciate every detail and know it's for their benefit. This is a series I will certainly be sticking with, and an author who will certainly be getting return business from me.

Buy Surviving Serendipity at Amazon or Quake Direct!

1 comment:

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