The Passage by Justin Cronin

When Buzzfeed published a quiz not too long ago asking readers ‘Which of these vampire stories have you read?’, I was intrigued. Going through the list I realized that while I had read a good deal of the titles listed there were just as many that I had not. Of course this meant a trip to the library!

In The Passage, the search to build a better soldier leads to disastrous results. Twelve men, each pulled from Death Row, are given an injection of an unknown virus. Thought to be hidden under the strictest security, the unspeakable happens when the the compound is breached and the twelve test subjects are released onto an unknowing country. Chaos descends and those that survive find themselves in a long and brutal fight.

Among the survivors is Amy, a six year old child and refugee from the doomed government experiments. Carrying her own version of the virus, Amy’s path is a long one. Spanning not only miles but decades as she travels to a time and place where she will finish that which should never have begun.

I found The Passage to be an incredible, thrilling read. At over 700 pages some readers will find it’s length, and subsequent weight, to be a bit daunting. I urge readers to look past that. Absolutely pick up this book.

The first 100 or so pages are a bit slow, but if we liken the story to a kind of chess match it makes it easier. And to me, that’s the best way to describe the unfolding action. The first part of the story is like the opening gambit; pieces are set up and opening moves are made. The players are feeling each other out, neither quite having a strategy just yet.

With the second and subsequent parts, strategies have been developed and are in effect. Nearly 100 years have passed since the Virals began to wreak havoc and those that remain have learned to survive. The action is not as fast paced as in the beginning but is just as brutal. Told through a combination of journal entries and prose, the story of survivors continue.

At times the story is heart wrenching and others it is joyous. Actions and reactions are real. The Virals might not be, but the way humanity bands together – their highs and lows – feel true.

Again, I urge my readers to pick up this book. Do a few arm exercises (since it’s a heavy tome!) but then open it up and enjoy!

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