Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Passage by Justin Cronin

In a nutshell: Like Stephen King’s The Stand with vampires.
I swear this is a pretty good read. It just takes a while to get there.  The initial individual stories are a bit disjointed, but the reader winds up with a clear picture of how the end of the civilization comes about.  

There’s an expedition in Ecuador. They’re looking for the fountain of youth? A virus? (I didn’t remember by the end.) The government gets involved. There’s a criminal. Then there are some feds. Then some more criminals. Then a young mom. Then nuns. Then nuns with a little girl. Then the feds with the little girl. Once the story seemingly comes together, the reader is transported 100 years into the future to a new story. Then it’s great for a while.

The descendants of a group of survivors have created a world and lives for themselves. There are old feuds, love triangles, and even hopes and dreams. Considering the number of pages, it’s disappointing that some of the characters weren’t more developed. Some of them realize that they can’t stay within the walls forever and a group set out on a quest: to find more survivors; to find the source of a radio beacon; to discover the world outside of their walls. They find all that they desired and more.
I don’t mind some characters being killed off, but not almost all of them. And don’t create extensive backgrounds that seem to be leading somewhere if they just lead to nothing. I prefer books that deal with character development rather than plot. Apocalyptic stories tend to center around the dynamics within the group of survivors. There wasn’t a whole lot of that here. Justin Cronin spends too much time with the set up. Though there are multiple points of view in this story, the reader only gets to know one character in depth.  This book is supposed to be part of a trilogy. The second book comes out in October. I’ll probably read it. 

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