Review: The Passage ~ Justin Cronin

The PassageAn 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 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.

5 Thumbs-UpThis book is the first in The Passage Trilogy and, I have to admit, as I neared the end of the first instalment I immediately lined up the second book to pick up from my library when I returned this one.  It is an epic apocalyptic novel that hits all the right places, and makes you want to keep reading; I have fallen asleep many nights despite all attempts not to, with this book firmly in my hands.

The first couple of chapters are a bit slow to get under way, but they are important to the rest of the story and, I’m assuming, the rest of the trilogy.  Character development across all those featured in the book moves at a nice pace, not giving the reader too much back story that they become overwhelmed, but not falling short that they fail to connect with at least one of the characters. There were places in the book that when some of the characters reacted in a certain way to a situation I was left wondering how I would have acted under the same circumstances; and a book that makes me think and examine myself as to how I would, to me, is always a good book.  The characters all have depth and personality, some of which will have the reader saying “I want them on my side should this happen” or “sorry, but you need to go hang out elsewhere”.  Their flaws and weaknesses are explained in their developing back stories as the reader progresses through the novel, at times backtracking through history to fill in a gap or two that might appear; this may seem odd but when taken in context with the rest of the book it is a seamless fit to give these people more depth.

Locations are well written and very detailed, as are the scenes of ‘battle’ or ‘engagement’; clothing is described in a unique and detailed way too, as are the day-to-day lives of the people we encounter.  When reading of some of the locales in the novel it was easy to see these places in the mind’s eye as they are now and then, superimposed over the top of that, the image projected of them in the novel.  The Author does have some difficulty with the dialogue in the book, the military personnel tend to speak in far too rigid a manner, and the civilians sometimes seemed at a loss as to how to string a sentence together.  However this did not spoil my utter enjoyment of this book in any way as there is so much going on that dialogue, at times, is almost unnecessary.

I would highly recommend this book if you are a lover of novels of over 700 pages; enjoy reading end of the world epics and also to those that enjoy a little time hopping in the storylines.  I’m currently about 100 pages into the second instalment, and so far…. well that would be another review.

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