Justin Cronin's The Passage is a very impressive and engrossing thriller. It has a fantastic premise, which is well-executed. I didn't know much about the book when I started it except that it had well over 100,000 ratings on GoodReads with an average score above 4.0, which indicates that a LOT of people have read the book and liked it. It should probably make a fantastic movie when it inevitably gets adapted.
One interesting aspect of The Passage to me is that it is really several different kinds of books in one.
It starts as a mysterious science fiction thriller involving a strange military experiment centered around a top secret program that the reader slowly discovers more and more details about as the story unfolds. Is it the development of a human longevity treatment? A virus that turns men into super-weapons for the military? The discovery of a real-life vampire? The answer, in the end, is all of the above.
In addition, there is a section of the story which is a chase involving an other-worldly child whose name is Amy and who is apparently "special" in some way. Presumably that is why two agents from the top secret quasi military agency are chasing her down in order to include her in the military experiment.
After the truth is revealed and the mass extinction event occurs (i.e. the fecal matter collides with the rotating air circulation device) The Passage becomes a post-apocalyptic tale about a small village of survivors (called "The Colony") and the social dynamics between key characters as they struggle to survive an untenable situation 75 years after the catastrophic events that concluded the first section of the book.
Then The Passage morphs again as Amy's story intersects with The Colony's. This results in yet another story shift as the book becomes a quest tale as a group of intrepid, but mismatched individuals travel to find the secret of why their world is the way that it is.
Along the way they have some pretty incredible adventures and some members of the small group die, while some are left behind to fend for themselves and some decide they want to leave the group.
As I said before, overall, the story is quite compelling and told in an exciting way. Even though the book IS quite long, because of the rapidly shifting story format, it never seems slow and my interest and concern for the characters never wavered (although I will admit I was interested in some characters more than others).
I do believe I will try to read the follow-up books in the trilogy, The Twelve and The City of Mirrors but I don't feel like I must read them immediately to see how the story continues and concludes. The thrill ride of The Passage is quite satisfying on its own and well worth your time to read.
Title: The Passage (The Passage, #1)
Author: Justin Cronin.
Paperback: 897 pages.
Publisher: Ballantine Books.
Date Published: June 3, 2010.
Date Read: August16, 2017.
GOODREADS RATING: ★★★★ (4.0/5.0).
OVERALL GRADE: A/A- (3.67/4.0).