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The Passageby Justin Cronin
Justin Cronin's The Passage is a marvel — an epic, post-apocalyptic vampire novel that's extremely well written and a great work of storytelling. Reminiscent in some ways of Stephen King's The Stand, but wholly unique in its approach, The Passage is this summer's must-read.
While most of the books that I read in 2010 were conclusions to series (often series I started in 2010), The Passage was a brilliant new beginning. I rarely start reading a series without some conclusion in sight, but this book had too much hype — both at the office and in real life — to put off reading it. It delivered such a great story that I gladly name it my favorite of the year.
"Justin Cronin's The Passage would be easy to lump in with countless other post-apocalyptic novels, falling somewhere between the literary, high-diction prose of Cormac McCarthy's The Road and the hard science-fiction storyline of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend. But, Cronin takes the pieces that work best from both ends of the spectrum and adapts them to suit his own predilections. In particular, he's able to develop complex familial themes and relationships, which can often take a backseat in genre fiction, but never at the expense of a tightly wound plot, one that rarely eases the tension over its 700+ pages." Nathan Weatherford, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
“It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.”
First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear — of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.
As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey — spanning miles and decades — towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.
With The Passage, award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterful prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.
"Every so often a novel-reader's novel comes along: an enthralling, entertaining story wedded to simple, supple prose, both informed by tremendous imagination. Summer is the perfect time for such books, and this year readers can enjoy the gift of Justin Cronin's The Passage. It has the vividness that only epic works of fantasy and imagination can achieve. What else can I say? This: Read this book and the ordinary world disappears." Stephen King
"Justin Cronin has written a wild, headlong, sweeping extravaganza of a novel. The Passage is the literary equivalent of a unicorn: a bonafide thriller that is sharply written, deeply humane, ablaze with big ideas, and absolutely impossible to put down." Jennifer Egan, author of The Keep
"As good as it is, The Passage seems destined to have too few vampires for the vampire fans and too many of them for quality literature fans. For those who can find their way to the middle ground, though, it’s a lot of fun. (Grade: A-)" The Onion A.V. Club
"This is going to be a book for 2010. Forget Twilight and all the other post-apocalyse vampire wanabees. They are but simpering children compared to this. The Passage is the real deal. Adult. Mature. Epic. Classic." SFFworld.com
"The Passage is the type of big, engrossing read that will have you leaving the lights on late into the night for reasons that have nothing to do with the fact that light keeps vampires away." Dallas Morning News
"[I]f you're willing to stick with it, The Passage is an agreeable thrill ride, especially after the story finally kicks into gear on page 247....It's hard to shake the feeling that the whole book would benefit from Cronin's lopping off about 100 pages." Newsday
"The monsters in this compulsive nail biter are the scariest in fiction since Stephen King's vampires in Salem's Lot....This exceptional thriller should be one of the most popular novels this year and will draw in readers everywhere." Library Journal (starred review)
"Fans of vampire fiction who are bored by the endless hordes of sensitive, misunderstood Byronesque bloodsuckers will revel in Cronin's engrossingly horrific account of a post-apocalyptic America...[Cronin] manages to engage the reader with a sweeping epic style." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy — abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl — and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape — but he can't stop society's collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.
About the Author
Born and raised in New England, Justin Cronin is a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Awards for his fiction include the Stephen Crane Prize, a Whiting Writers' Award, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. He is a professor of English at Rice University and lives with his wife and children in Houston, Texas.
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