Justin Cronin’s ‘The Passage’

the passageWhen the book opens, the US government is exploring new ways to create the ultimate fighting weapon. The discovery of a mysterious virus found in the deepest parts of a remote jungle, which seems to render its carriers impervious to disease and to give them extreme strength, seems like it may offer a solution. But experiments on test subjects straight from death row soon take a disastrous turn.

Skip forward a hundred years and the catastrophic consequences of these experiments become abundantly clear. Darkness brings death in the form of virals – infected humans that roam the country, moving like lightening and killing or turning every living thing in their path.

A small pocket of survivors live in the First Colony. Their entire survival relies on their ability to guard their high walls against the virals, and on the bright lights that protect against the night. The people living in the colony are several generations down from the original survivors, and the old world and the promise of a rescuing army have been changed into the stuff of myth and legend.

The realisation that the lights will not last forever and the arrival of Amy, the Girl from Nowhere, sets a series of events in motion that will test the colony to its limits. Amy holds the key to secrets that could explain the state of the world – and if they can find the source of the evil, maybe they can change it.

The level of detail, research and planning and writing this novel is immense. The science side of things is terrifying and entirely believable. The rapid spread of the virus and the failed attempts to control unfold seem entirely convincing. The addition of emails and newspaper cuttings help to reinforce this. Even though it’s set in a post-apocalyptic world, it’s completely conceivable could still be our world. It had me believing that something as catastrophic as this really could happen one day.

It’s also an interesting look at how groups function when there are no laws, no state and no government. They have no idea what is outside the walls, and the lure of the unknown divides the colony – some of them are terrified to risk what they have while others are convinced there must be something, or someone, else out there.

They have created their own law and order to help them survive as best they can with their limited resources. But this law is set down by a group of people who have inherited their positions and remain in power even though they might be weak, biased or resistant to change. Being a leader is a constant theme through the novel, whether that’s through the microcosm of the colony, the overall disaster caused by government experiments or through the decisions that individual characters throughout the novel that could have life or death consequences for the people around them.

‘The Passage’ shows how easy it is to forget that the people in power have their own faults, and that the decisions they make might not always be in our best interest. This is very true of our world today.

At over 1,000 pages, this is a real epic of a book, but I loved every page. It’s full of action, and I really liked the author still took the time to really develop the characters and establish their stories. Yes there are a lot of different characters and it is quite wordy, but for me, this just made it seem all the more real. I would much rather know more than less – although I appreciate that some people have said it could have been written in considerably less pages. I didn’t want it to end, so in my opinion the length was a plus point!


3 thoughts on “Justin Cronin’s ‘The Passage’

  1. Pingback: A review of ‘White Horse’ by Alex Adams | The Stacked Shelf

  2. Pingback: Top 5 books on my TBR list | The Stacked Shelf

  3. Pingback: ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’ by M. R. Carey | The Stacked Shelf

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