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Passageby Connie Willis
"At any point when I thought that I'd sussed out Willis' game, when I believed I knew where she was taking the story and what point she would ultimately make about NDEs, she called my bet — and raised me some while she was at it....The author of nine other idiosyncratic books — dealing with everything from the Norman conquest to Victorian society — Willis has built a devoted following. And she can add at least one more reader to their ranks." Laura Miller, Salon.com (read Salon.com's entire review)
Synopses & Reviews
One of those rare, unforgettable novels that are as chilling as they are insightful, as thought-provoking as they are terrifying, award-winning author Connie Willis's Passage is an astonishing blend of relentless suspense and cutting-edge science unlike anything you've ever read before.
It is the electrifying story of a psychologist who has devoted her life to tracking death. But when she volunteers for a research project that simulates the near-death experience, she will either solve life's greatest mystery — or fall victim to its greatest terror.
At Mercy General Hospital, Dr. Joanna Lander will soon be paged — not to save a life, but to interview a patient just back from the dead. A psychologist specializing in near-death experiences, Joanna has spent two years recording the experiences of those who have been declared clinically dead and lived to tell about it.
It's research on the fringes of ordinary science, but Joanna is about to get a boost from an unexpected quarter. A new doctor has arrived at Mercy General, one with the power to give Joanna the chance to get as close to death as anyone can.
A brilliant young neurologist, Dr. Richard Wright has come up with a way to manufacture the near-death experience using a psychoactive drug. Dr. Wright is convinced that the NDE is a survival mechanism and that if only doctors understood how it worked, they could someday delay the dying process, or maybe even reverse it. He can use the expertise of a psychologist of Joanna Lander's standing to lend credibility to his study.
But he soon needs Joanna for more than just her reputation. When his key volunteer suddenly drops out of the study, Joanna finds herself offering to become Richard's next subject. After all, who better than she, a trained psychologist, to document the experience?
Her first NDE is as fascinating as she imagined it would be — so astounding that she knows she must go back, if only to find out why this place is so hauntingly familiar. But each time Joanna goes under, her sense of dread begins to grow, because part of her already knows why the experience is so familiar, and why she has every reason to be afraid...
And just when you think you know where she is going, Willis throws in the biggest surprise of all — a shattering scenario that will keep you feverishly reading until the final climactic page is turned.
"That this work is less tightly packed than most of Willis's novels somewhat undercuts the tension. Even so, the plot twists, the casual wit and the enjoyable characters will satisfy fans." Publishers Weekly
"[A] long, extraordinary, chilling, fascinating journey. Once again, Willis has developed an idea that bears all the authority of a genuine insight: disturbingly plausible, compelling, intensely moving, and ultimately uplifting." Kirkus Reviews
"Willis certainly doesn't write the same book twice....With memorable characters, believable science, and convincing hospital ambiance, an initially slow-moving yarn turns into a page-turner whose explosive climax will rock readers back on their heels." Sally Estes, Booklist
"The author...continues to expand her storytelling repertoire, achieving new dimensions in subtlety and irony while simultaneously constructing an unforgettable tale of courage and self-sacrifice. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"The book's size and its pace, which may seem glacial at times, should not deter readers....This novel will draw not only science fiction fans, but also those who have wondered about their own passage from this existence into the next." School Library Journal
Multi-award-winning author Willis delivers a story that examines one of the toughest issues of all: death. Part medical thriller, part literary exploration, Willis plunges readers into a bizarre and fascinating world.
About the Author
Connie Willis has won major awards for her novels and short stories. Her first short-story collection, Fire Watch, was a New York Times Notable Book. Her other works include Doomsday Book, Lincoln's Dreams, Bellwether, Impossible Things, Remake, Uncharted Territory, To Say Nothing of the Dog, and Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. Ms. Willis lives in Greeley, Colorado, with her family.
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