November 18, 2012
The Passage by Justin Cronin
2010 Random House Audio
Length: 36 hours and 52 minutes
Readers: Scott Brick, Adenrele Ojo, Abby Craden
Rating: 4.75/5 (Terrific!)
R.I.P. VII Challenge
"Imagine Michael Crichton crossbreeding Stephen King's The Stand and Salem's Lot in that lab at Jurassic Park, with rich infusions of Robert McCammon's Swan Song, Battlestar Galactica and even Cormac McCarthy's The Road." The Washington Post
“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 — toward 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.
I’ve had a copy of The Passage ever since it was first released back in 2010, but it wasn’t until I decided to participate in Carl’s R.I.P. VII Challenge that I finally took it down from the shelf. Actually, I downloaded the audio version (all 36 hours and 52 minutes!) from my library, but occasionally flipped through the book for clarification of a specific passage. I was reading another large book (The Thorn Birds) at the time, so the audio turned out to be the perfect way to manage this tome. And, I think The Washington Post nailed it when describing the book as a mash-up of The Stand, Swan Song, Battlestar Galactica and The Road. With the exception of BG, I found myself comparing the story to these outstanding post-apocalyptic tales, all of which I loved, by the way.
In spite of the audio format, I still took over a month to complete this read, partly due to the fact that it’s just so very long, but also because I found myself repeating tracks for clarification or to remind myself of a certain group of characters. As with The Stand, there is a large cast of characters, as well as a shift in locations and plot threads. Scott Brick does an excellent job with the narration, performing each chapter with perfect pacing, and the sense of urgency and raw emotion the book demands. I was quickly drawn into the story and in spite of the length, found myself wishing it were longer. Thankfully, it turns out to be the first in a trilogy, so I can look forward to enjoying more of this saga.
Final Thoughts: What begins as a terrifying story filled with vampire-like creatures (one which might have caused a nightmare or two), turns out to be an exceptionally imaginative (and highly addictive) post-apocalyptic tale of both love and survival. I have the ARC of The Twelve in my stacks, as well as the audio version on my Nano, but it will be a few months before I return to Amy Harper Bellafonte’s story. The holiday season is upon us and my concentration level requires something a bit more uplifting and light-hearted.
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. Read fifteen pages and you'll find yourself captivated; read thirty and you will find yourself taken prisoner and reading late into the night. 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. ~ Stephen King