Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Passage by Justin Cronin

I subscribe to, and I buy books through, so I am not sure which one of those recommended this book for me. I held it a couple months before I read it, just wasn’t sure it was something I cared about. Once I started, however, I was hooked.

Don’t you just love summertime reading, the kind where you might even be able to grab a couple hours in a row? When you can focus like that, it’s like you are living two lives; you are in your normal existence, but a part of you is somewhere else, if the book is good enough.

Sometimes that somewhere else isn’t that great, and in The Passage, you are in a post-apocalyptic America where those military scientists have lost control of one of their experiments and life has changed forever as a result. Sorry to sound so cynical, but I started reading Sci-Fi when I was still in middle-school, so I am a little jaded about post-apocalyptic literature, but this one managed to suck me in. Also, even though you know it’s fiction, it is compelling enough to feel very real.

So before I go getting all critical about the little things, I need to tell you that when I had to put the book down, I could hardly wait to get back to it, and I probably need to look after my laundry and my floors and wash up some dishes now that I’ve finished; the book compelled my interest.

I think the author does a great job setting up the world. In order for young people to come into their own, to head out on their quest, you have to get parents out of the way, so all the young people out to solve the problems have parents who have died, or committed suicide (the living situation is a little bleak) and that kind of bugs me, even though I can see the literary usefulness of having this happen.

The survivors, 100 years after the societal meltdown, live a bleak and limited existence, mostly focused on not getting killed. (One of the very scary things is just how fast a society can melt down when faced with an overwhelming threat.)

This is a vampire-novel, but a vampire novel with a total twist, there is nothing attractive about these vampires, called virals. They are demented, and they want blood. They tear into flesh. You don’t want to be out in the open after dark, you don’t want to run into a viral. Justin Cronin makes it very very real. I’m glad my husband wasn’t traveling. I know vampires are not real, and I know there are no virals, and you know sometimes rational doesn’t matter when you hear sounds at night? These bad-guys are very very lethal and very very bad.

And here is what I like. Cronin takes you from utter fear to some compassion for the virals. I imagine this will play into the next book.

I also like his inclusion of children, and they way children perceive and the way children feel, and how those perceptions and feelings grow with the child, and, if you are very lucky or very persistent, how you can gain insights into those perceptions and understand them differently as you reach adulthood. It reminds me of another Sci-Fi author I used to read, Zenna Henderson, who wrote books about specially talented children.

Here is what I don’t like, what I find really frustrating: this is just the first volume. I am satisfied enough with this book, and I know I will have to read the next one, but I think I can see where he is going with it all. I find it frustrating; I am holding my breath for the next Game of Thrones/Fire and Ice volume to come out, and now this Passage follow up won’t be out until 2012, on AAARRGH.

It’s a dark book, but it kept me glued. The things that annoyed me didn’t annoy me enough to discourage me from reading. 🙂 It is a great summer read.

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Books, Cultural, Experiment, Family Issues, Fiction, Health Issues, Leadership, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior | | 1 Comment