Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Passage-An Epic Summer Read

Ok--this was my gigantor read for the summer.  It was worth it.  I'm not much for zombies, but I do like my vampires.  Of course, the vampires in this novel--also known as smokers or virals, are really pretty ugly.  Think Nosferatu, except they glow in the dark. They're freakishly strong, can run and jump like nothing else, and seem to have some intelligence.   How did they get this way?  Why thank you, US Army!  Medical testing on twelve condemned prisoners leads to a devastating outbreak in Colorado, and the virus spreads across the US, resulting in an apocalypse we could only imagine in our worst nightmares.  And if you read this book, you will have a disturbing dream or two.

So many people are comparing this novel to The Stand by Stephen King; and it does have some similarities.   Both are epic in nature, involving a group of people who travel across the US to fight evil.  Having read both, I have to say I liked The Passage by Justin Cronin better than The Stand,  Why?  Well, Justin introduces us to characters that we care about, but keeps the cultural references to a minimum.  The story is told in two major parts--the beginning of the outbreak, and 93 years later, after the US has been decimated by the virals.  A small group of people, living in California, have created a community that relies on batteries and turbines to run their lights when night falls.  They have no idea how the world was before the virus hit; they live like people did in the 1800's; horses, cross bows--no phones, movies, or TV.  You meet Peter, Alisha, Sara, Maus, and Mike, to name a few.  They struggle day to day to stay alive in a world where the virals are constantly attacking, looking for fresh blood--humans.  The virals  come out at night, and keeping the lights on in the community is vital to their existence.

Then there's Amy.  A six year old girl at the time of the outbreak, she connects both worlds together.  I can't tell you how--it would spoil the story.  Let's just say, she's special, and is the key to saving the world.

This book moves along at a pretty good clip--it really is hard to put down.  Justin Cronin writes very well--you become attached to the characters very easily; this is a credit to his skill as a storyteller.    I would recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction, epic stories, or just wants a story that will keep turning over in their head.   Seriously-- it is one of those stories that will stay with you.  Can this happen in our world?  Probably.  Will it?  Hope not.

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