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    Original Essays | July 14, 2015

    Joshua Mohr: IMG Your Imagination, Your Fingerprint

    When I was in grad school, a teacher told our workshop that if a published novel is 300 pages, the writer had to generate 1,200 along the way. I... Continue »
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      All This Life

      Joshua Mohr 9781593766030

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The Passage


The Passage Cover

ISBN13: 9780345504968
ISBN10: 0345504968
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Im not talking about real aliens. The Others arent stupid. The Others are so far ahead of us, its like comparing the dumbest human to the smartest dog. No contest.

No, Im talking about the aliens inside our own heads.

The ones we made up, the ones weve been making up since we realized those glittering lights in the sky were suns like ours and probably had planets like ours spinning around them. You know, the aliens we imagine, the kind of aliens wed like to attack us, human aliens. Youve seen them a million times. They swoop down from the sky in their flying saucers to level New York and Tokyo and London, or they march across the countryside in huge machines that look like mechanical spiders, ray guns blasting away, and always, always, humanity sets aside its differences and bands together to defeat the alien horde. David slays Goliath, and everybody (except Goliath) goes home happy.

What crap.

Its like a cockroach working up a plan to defeat the shoe on its way down to crush it.

Theres no way to know for sure, but I bet the Others knew about the human aliens wed imagined. And I bet they thought it was funny as hell. They must have laughed their asses off. If they have a sense of humor . . . or asses. They must have laughed the way we laugh when a dog does something totally cute and dorky.

Oh, those cute, dorky humans! They think we think like they do! Isnt that adorable?

Forget about flying saucers and little green men and giant mechanical spiders spitting out death rays. Forget about epic battles with tanks and fighter jets and the final victory of us scrappy, unbroken, intrepid humans over the bug-eyed swarm. Thats about as far from the truth as their dying planet was from our living one.

The truth is, once they found us, we were toast.



SOMETIMES I THINK I might be the last human on Earth.

Which means Im the last human in the universe.

I know thats dumb. They cant have killed everyone . . . yet. I see how it could happen, though, eventually. And then I think thats exactly what the Others want me to see.

Remember the dinosaurs? Well.

So Im probably not the last human on Earth, but Im one of the last. Totally alone—and likely to stay that way—until the 4th Wave rolls over me and carries me down.

Thats one of my night thoughts. You know, the three-in-the-morning, oh-my-God-Im-screwed thoughts. When I curl into a little ball, so scared I cant close my eyes, drowning in fear so intense I have to remind myself to breathe, will my heart to keep beating. When my brain checks out and begins to skip like a scratched CD. Alone, alone, alone, Cassie, youre alone.

Thats my name. Cassie.

Not Cassie for Cassandra. Or Cassie for Cassidy. Cassie for Cassiopeia, the constellation, the queen tied to her chair in the northern sky, who was beautiful but vain, placed in the heavens by the sea god Poseidon as a punishment for her boasting. In Greek, her name means “she whose words excel.”

My parents didnt know the first thing about that myth. They just thought the name was pretty.

Even when there were people around to call me anything, no one ever called me Cassiopeia. Just my father, and only when he was teasing me, and always in a very bad Italian accent: Cass-ee-oh-PEE-a. It drove me crazy. I didnt think he was funny or cute, and it made me hate my own name. “Im Cassie!” Id holler at him. “Just Cassie!” Now Id give anything to hear him say it just one more time.

When I was turning twelve—four years before the Arrival—my father gave me a telescope for my birthday. On a crisp, clear fall evening, he set it up in the backyard and showed me the constellation.

“See how it looks like a W?” he asked.

“Why did they name it Cassiopeia if its shaped like a W?” I replied. “W for what?”

“Well . . . I dont know that its for anything,” he answered with a smile. Mom always told him it was his best feature, so he trotted it out a lot, especially after he started going bald. You know, to drag the other persons eyes downward. “So, its for anything you like! How about wonderful? Or winsome? Or wise?” He dropped his hand on my shoulder as I squinted through the lens at the five stars burning over fifty light-years from the spot on which we stood. I could feel my fathers breath against my cheek, warm and moist in the cool, dry autumn air. His breath so close, the stars of Cassiopeia so very far away.

The stars seem a lot closer now. Closer than the three hundred trillion miles that separate us. Close enough to touch, for me to touch them, for them to touch me. Theyre as close to me as his breath had been.

That sounds crazy. Am I crazy? Have I lost my mind? You can only call someone crazy if theres someone else whos normal. Like good and evil. If everything was good, then nothing would be good.

Whoa. That sounds, well . . . crazy.

Crazy: the new normal.

I guess I could call myself crazy, since there is one other person I can compare myself to: me. Not the me I am now, shivering in a tent deep in the woods, too afraid to even poke her head from the sleeping bag. Not this Cassie. No, Im talking about the Cassie I was before the Arrival, before the Others parked their alien butts in high orbit. The twelve-year-old me, whose biggest problems were the spray of tiny freckles on her nose and the curly hair she couldnt do anything with and the cute boy who saw her every day and had no clue she existed. The Cassie who was coming to terms with the painful fact that she was just okay. Okay in looks. Okay in school. Okay at sports like karate and soccer. Basically the only unique things about her were the weird name—Cassie for Cassiopeia, which nobody knew about, anyway—and her ability to touch her nose with the tip of her tongue, a skill that quickly lost its impressiveness by the time she hit middle school.

Im probably crazy by that Cassies standards.

And she sure is crazy by mine. I scream at her sometimes, that twelve-year-old Cassie, moping over her hair or her weird name or at being just okay. “What are you doing?” I yell. “Dont you know whats coming?”

But that isnt fair. The fact is she didnt know, had no way of knowing, and that was her blessing and why I miss her so much, more than anyone, if Im being honest. When I cry—when I let myself cry—thats who I cry for. I dont cry for myself. I cry for the Cassie thats gone.

And I wonder what that Cassie would think of me.

The Cassie who kills.



HE COULDNT HAVE BEEN much older than me. Eighteen. Maybe nineteen. But hell, he could have been seven hundred and nineteen for all I know. Five months into it and Im still not sure if the 4th Wave is human or some kind of hybrid or even the Others themselves, though I dont like to think that the Others look just like us and talk just like us and bleed just like us. I like to think of the Others as being . . . well, other.

I was on my weekly foray for water. Theres a stream not far from my campsite, but Im worried it might be contaminated, either from chemicals or sewage or maybe a body or two upstream. Or poisoned. Depriving us of clean water would be an excellent way to wipe us out quickly.

So once a week I shoulder my trusty M16 and hike out of the forest to the interstate. Two miles south, just off Exit 175, therere a couple of gas stations with convenience stores attached. I load up as much bottled water as I can carry, which isnt a lot because water is heavy, and get back to the highway and the relative safety of the trees as quickly as I can, before night falls completely. Dusk is the best time to travel. Ive never seen a drone at dusk. Three or four during the day and a lot more at night, but never at dusk.

From the moment I slipped through the gas stations shattered front door, I knew something was different. I didnt see anything different—the store looked exactly like it had a week earlier, the same graffiti-scrawled walls, overturned shelves, floor strewn with empty boxes and caked-in rat feces, the busted-open cash registers and looted beer coolers. It was the same disgusting, stinking mess Id waded through every week for the past month to get to the storage area behind the refrigerated display cases. Why people grabbed the beer and soda, the cash from the registers and safe, the rolls of lottery tickets, but left the two pallets of drinking water was beyond me. What were they thinking? Its an alien apocalypse! Quick, grab the beer!

The same disaster of spoilage, the same stench of rats and rotted food, the same fitful swirl of dust in the murky light pushing through the smudged windows, every out-of-place thing in its place, undisturbed.


Something was different.

I was standing in the little pool of broken glass just inside the doorway. I didnt see it. I didnt hear it. I didnt smell or feel it. But I knew it.

Something was different.

Its been a long time since humans were prey animals. A hundred thousand years or so. But buried deep in our genes the memory remains: the awareness of the gazelle, the instinct of the antelope. The wind whispers through the grass. A shadow flits between the trees. And up speaks the little voice that goes, Shhhh, its close now. Close.

I dont remember swinging the M16 from my shoulder. One minute it was hanging behind my back, the next it was in my hands, muzzle down, safety off.


Id never fired it at anything bigger than a rabbit, and that was a kind of experiment, to see if I could actually use the thing without blowing off one of my own body parts. Once I shot over the heads of a pack of feral dogs that had gotten a little too interested in my campsite. Another time nearly straight up, sighting the tiny, glowering speck of greenish light that was their mothership sliding silently across the backdrop of the Milky Way. Okay, I admit that was stupid. I might as well have erected a billboard with a big arrow pointing at my head and the words yoo-hoo, here i am!

After the rabbit experiment—it blew that poor damn bunny apart, turning Peter into this unrecognizable mass of shredded guts and bone—I gave up the idea of using the rifle to hunt. I didnt even do target practice. In the silence that had slammed down after the 4th Wave struck, the report of the rounds sounded louder than an atomic blast.

Still, I considered the M16 my bestest of besties. Always by my side, even at night, burrowed into my sleeping bag with me, faithful and true. In the 4th Wave, you cant trust that people are still people. But you can trust that your gun is still your gun.

Shhh, Cassie. Its close.


I should have bailed. That little voice had my back. That little voice is older than I am. Its older than the oldest person who ever lived.

I should have listened to that voice.

Instead, I listened to the silence of the abandoned store, listened hard. Something was close. I took a tiny step away from the door, and the broken glass crunched ever so softly under my foot.

And then the Something made a noise, somewhere between a cough and a moan. It came from the back room, behind the coolers, where my water was.

Thats the moment when I didnt need a little old voice to tell me what to do. It was obvious, a no-brainer. Run.

But I didnt run.

The first rule of surviving the 4th Wave is dont trust anyone. It doesnt matter what they look like. The Others are very smart about that—okay, theyre smart about everything. It doesnt matter if they look the right way and say the right things and act exactly like you expect them to act. Didnt my fathers death prove that? Even if the stranger is a little old lady sweeter than your great-aunt Tilly, hugging a helpless kitten, you cant know for certain—you can never know—that she isnt one of them, and that there isnt a loaded .45 behind that kitten.

It isnt unthinkable. And the more you think about it, the more thinkable it becomes. Little old lady has to go.

Thats the hard part, the part that, if I thought about it too much, would make me crawl into my sleeping bag, zip myself up, and die of slow starvation. If you cant trust anyone, then you can trust no one. Better to take the chance that Aunty Tilly is one of them than play the odds that youve stumbled across a fellow survivor.

Thats friggin diabolical.

It tears us apart. It makes us that much easier to hunt down and eradicate. The 4th Wave forces us into solitude, where theres no strength in numbers, where we slowly go crazy from the isolation and fear and terrible anticipation of the inevitable.

So I didnt run. I couldnt. Whether it was one of them or an Aunt Tilly, I had to defend my turf. The only way to stay alive is to stay alone. Thats rule number two.

I followed the sobbing coughs or coughing sobs or whatever you want to call them till I reached the door that opened to the back room. Hardly breathing, on the balls of my feet.

The door was ajar, the space just wide enough for me to slip through sideways. A metal rack on the wall directly in front of me and, to the right, the long narrow hallway that ran the length of the coolers. There were no windows back here. The only light was the sickly orange of the dying day behind me, still bright enough to hurl my shadow onto the sticky floor. I crouched down; my shadow crouched with me.

I couldnt see around the edge of the cooler into the hall. But I could hear whoever—or whatever—it was at the far end, coughing, moaning, and that gurgling sob.

Either hurt badly or acting hurt badly, I thought. Either needs help or its a trap.

This is what life on Earth has become since the Arrival. Its an either/or world.

Either its one of them and it knows youre here or its not one of them and he needs your help.

Either way, I had to get up and turn that corner.

So I got up.

And I turned the corner.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 55 comments:

Adena, April 26, 2012 (view all comments by Adena)
Holy crap. This book was heartbreaking and stunningly beautiful. I became obsessed and was much sleep-deprived. One of the best books I've ever read.
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Amber Roher, February 7, 2012 (view all comments by Amber Roher)
This book was by far the BEST book I have ever read. It keeps you wanting more and never wanting to put it down. It's got a great story line that's in a time when the world has come to an end and vampires are the culprit. But how the vampires got here is a big part of the story line and how the few characters in this book which are the last group of people left (or are they). I cant wait to read more and want Cronin to continue writing on this story line. It's such an awesome book and Cronin's writing is so captivating, he's an awesome writer. YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!!! I PROMISE YOU WON'T BE SORRY...
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ceciliah, January 20, 2012 (view all comments by ceciliah)
One hundred years into the future, what will our planet be like? What will we be like? Will we finally destroy ourselves by our arrogance & ignorance? Cronin has created a futuristic look at what our world and civilization could be like if we haphazardly mess around with nature’s secrets for our own selfish desires and the price that waging war may truly cost every living creature.

In the story, the military finances and thus joins up with a scientific expedition to discover an organism/virus in the depths of the jungle that is believed to make soldiers virtually indestructible and miraculously heals the terminally ill. But, what is the true price for such a miracle?

Cronin has created totally believable, fleshed-out characters that we care about in whatever situation we find them. I found myself rooting for them in every predicament they were in because they were trying to win for the good of their families and friends. They were striking out for the good of humanity and for life itself. This is not your typical vampire story...not at all. I think that pleased me more than anything. I don't think the author intended to write a 'typical' vampire story. I do think he was warning us of the frailty of our existence and in these uncertain times how we can so easily lose ourselves and the caring for others thus becoming the very monsters we fear.

"The Passage" is really worth spending the time reading. I can hardly wait for part two!!!
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Product Details

Cronin, Justin
Putnam Juvenile
Yancey, Rick
General Fiction
United states
Science fiction
Popular Fiction-Suspense
Action & Adventure
dystopia;horror;near future;plague;post-apocalyptic fiction;science fiction;speculative fiction;supernatural;vampire fiction;virus;21st century;adventure;apocalypse;apocalyptic fiction;horror fiction
dystopia;horror;near future;plague;post-apocalyptic fiction;science fiction;speculative fiction;supernatural;vampire fiction;virus;21st century;adventure;apocalypse;apocalyptic fiction;horror fiction;literary fantasy
Edition Description:
Trade paper
The 5th Wave
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 7
9.33 x 6.32 x 1.5 in 1.5 lb
Age Level:
from 12

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The Passage Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.50 In Stock
Product details 480 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780345504968 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

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.

"Staff Pick" by ,

The Passage is a page-turner that grabs you from the start with its great storytelling and character development. The style of writing and portions of the plot reminded me of The Stand by Stephen King. This is the first book in a series, and I can't wait to read the next.

"Staff Pick" by ,

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.

"Review A Day" by , "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, (read the entire review)
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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." (starred review)
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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-)"
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "[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."
"Synopsis" by ,
"Remarkable, not-to-be-missed-under-any-circumstances."—Entertainment Weekly (Grade A)

The Passage meets Ender's Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

"Wildly entertaining . . . I couldn't turn the pages fast enough."—Justin Cronin, The New York Times Book Review

"A modern sci-fi masterpiece . . . should do for aliens what Twilight did for vampires."—

"Synopsis" by , “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.

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