Justin Cronin’s The Passage is another one of those books that has been on my TBR list for what seems like forever, though thinking back I remember exactly when and where I bought it. It was in January 2011 in the Waterstones at Ludgate Circus and I was with Silvery Dude who was kindly getting me a copy of Rivers of London for my birthday and I saw this and had to have it. I was suffering from a really nasty cold and ended up off work for a few days medicating myself with Stephen King.
And its taken me this long to get to it, but I was just in the mood for some pre-soon-to-be-post-apocalyptic horror; this definitely fits the bill.
So there’s this scientist who goes to South America to follow up on information about strange goings on which may lead to a cure for cancer or everlasting life or something of that sort and despite (or because of perhaps) the involvement of the military it all goes horribly wrong. We leap to some time later and death row inmates are being signed up by the guy I thought was going to be our hero, FBI agent Brad Wolgast, to take part in something which will basically mean they are erased from the record. And we have Amy Harper Bellafonte, a six-year old girl who will turn out to be something pretty special (again not a spoiler, you can get this from the back cover).
So much for the set up, and the book does start of as a conventional but well written and extremely creepy horribleness takes over the world and we are all doomed horror. Not giving anything away to say we’re talking vampires, Jim, but not as we know them.
Then something happens and we are plunged into the post-apocalyptic stuff I mentioned, with a whole bunch of other characters set in the future where the world is significantly changed and people are doing what they can to survive. Then it turns into a road trip slash quest novel as a band of intrepid souls go off for various and quite plausible reasons to find out just what the heck happened and is there, you know, anyone else out there.
I thought this was great, a real page turner. The end of the first section and the leap into the future I’ve described above was a bit of a surprise as I thought we would be with the same set of characters for this book at least (given that I think its part one of a projected trilogy). But I soon got used to that and came to love another set of characters which makes the last page a real WTF moment (I won’t say more than that but I read the last paragraph a couple of times to make sure I was really understanding what was going on).
I think this is a really well written story about characters I really came to care for and it has an internal logic to it which makes the world it describes work for me.
And I really, really want to know what happens next, so Santa has been asked to provide the sequel.