Review – The Passage – Justin Cronin

The Passage


Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )



Before I begin, I have to get this out of the way – size does matter, you can’t deny it.  What an idyllic world it would be if looks weren’t important but they are, so where does this leave The Passage which weighs in at almost 800 pages?  If its physical size wasn’t enough to fill you with dread, surely the description (imagine the gravelly voice-over) “the publishing event of the year” coupled with a Ridley Scott film version in the pipeline would have most literary fiction readers running for cover.  Not me, I like a challenge!

Fast-forward a few days of frantic reading, pausing only for sustenance and sleep…20 pages in and I was won over by this wonderful story of human endurance.  I had (wrongly) anticipated ostentatious language and outlandish imagery but instead I was enthralled by simple, strong prose and believable characters.

The story is fairly straightforward – The Passage is the first of a post-apocalyptic vampire trilogy.  This is what ensues when mad scientists are given free rein to develop a vampire virus designed to create a new breed of super-soldier.  Of course, such a project is doomed to fail and North America becomes a wilderness, its population decimated by these voracious virals or as Cronin succinctly puts it “It happened fast.  Thirty two minutes for one world to die, another to be born”.

The Passage has more in common with Stephen’s King’s high octane post-apocalyptic The Stand than Cormac McCarthy’s more literary The Road which is all for the good as we are treated to a rollercoaster ride of action and adventure. That’s not to say that this is a one dimensional tale, on the contrary, it can be read on so many different levels from pure entertainment to more philosophical questions about the human spirit. There’s something for everyone here and I hope that readers will suppress their sizeist tendencies and embrace this mesmerizing, epic tale.

My  thanks to Waterstones for sending me a proof copy for review.

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