Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Dr. Cronin is a professor of creative writing at Rice University here in Houston. His sprawling tale, The Passage, is rumored to be the beginning of a mighty trilogy, and the advances he received for his first horror novel are rumored to have been impressive.

The Passage tells us of the decline and fall of North American civilization under a plague of vampirism brought about by a Miltary/CDC experiment gone wrong. We get a long buildup to the catastrophe, then jump forward about 100 years to a post-apocalpytic world in which a band of survivors tries in vain to keep the lights on to protect themselves from the hordes of night-stalkers. Eventually, a small band of misfits must undertake a journey across the blighted land for some reason. They encounter other civilizations (shades of Watership Down here), and have some cool skirmishes. (Vamped out Vegas is pretty cool.) Some of the characters are really memorable. Some of the action scenes are excellent (others, like the runaway train-car bit feel too much like someone was trying to create a movie…) The resolutions to some of relationship drama is touching. Other times, deus-ex-machina rears its ugly head in a way that is frustrating.

Overall, it’s a cool setup to what could be a much longer tale, and despite being almost 900 pages, this book itself could have been longer.

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