“The Passage” by Justin Cronin
Why I Checked It Out: It was getting a ton of buzz from critics, and I have trouble saying no to apocalypse stories.
Why I Recommend It: Cronin is a literary author, so it’s hard to explain to people that a story with vampires in it can be quality. “The Passage” begins in present day and tells the story of a virus that turns those it does not kill into incredibly fast predators that shun the daylight. It then jumps 100 years into the future and launches into the aftermath of the outbreak, the collapse of the society and the way that humans continue to survive in what was once America.
Yeah, there are vampire-like things, and there are sections of this book that are terrifying, but that isn’t the point. Not really. The main body of the book–and, for me, the main draw of it–involves the stories of survival. How culture and language and society have adapted and continue to adapt in a changed world. They are the descendants of a last-ditch outpost in the middle of the desert who have a limited understanding of the events that brought their ancestors to this place and almost no knowledge of the world that thrived before the virus. Their defenses are failing and time is running out, forcing them to venture into the wilderness and seek out a new home. The characters have distinct voices, comparing before the virus to after the virus, and I loved that. It was an incredibly real and salient way to demonstrate not just time and situation, but a truly fundamental evolution in the way that the people of this world think.
Who Should Read It: Every adult who enjoys a smart, intense thriller. Seriously, I loved this book. It was the best book I had read in years, and it made Time Magazine’s Top Ten Fiction Books of 2010. Cronin seriously impressed me. Stay tuned for my review of “The Twelve,” the sequel to “The Passage,” which comes out October 16.
What to Read Next: If you’d love to read other dystopian tales of survival, try one of these titles:
- “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy
- “The Strain” by Guillermo del Toro
- Or if you’d like to try one of Justin Cronin’s other novels: “The Summer Guest“