Saturday, July 31

Book Review: The Passage

Title: The Passage

Author: Jason Cronin

Pages: 766

Summary: 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 the world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is a long fight ahead and a future rule by fear - of darkness, of death, or 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 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 the apocalypse. Wolgasst 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 begin.

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, masterly prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.

My Rating: 6/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I have a love-hate-relationship with this book, or maybe it’s a like-hate-relationship. I gave it a chance, I stuck through all 766 pages, there were parts that really interested me, but it did fall short of my expectations, even my lowered ones. And finding out it will be a trilogy, has be groaning, why? Because I’ll have to finish the rest of the series now, just to find out what happens next. Even knowing it won’t be as an enjoyable read as I’d prefer, even knowing all the same issues I have with this book, will likely be in the second and third, I’ll still finish the series. Where to start?

What I didn’t like. First of all, the authors writing style just fell short of a good book. I didn’t like how he told the story; I felt the dialog was awkward and at times choppy. I also felt that the way he told the story didn’t flow well together, it felt uneven which at times, made it difficult to continue reading the book. The author isn’t a horrible writer, but compared to similar books in the genre, the style of writing fell below par to what I expected.

I also found the book was far too long. Now, I love a good long book. If a book needs 2000 pages to get the story across, then yes, hand it over. But this book could have been about 200 - 300 pages shorter, if it hadn’t included the excessive amount of background sketches on the characters, many times of which were redundant sketches or pieces of information. Having some background on a character is one thing; in fact it is an important thing to include in a book. But having so much of it that it draws away from the main story line and having it become so redundant you’re about to chuck the book against the wall out of frustration, is another. Wolfgast and his ex wife, daughter is an example of this. It just kept reappearing, the author hinted at it early on what was going one with him, then told the reader, then told the reader again, then again. The background on the characters was just too much, to the point, it distracted from the story, and because there was so much, it was easy to forget or mix up the important information about those characters. Less is more, and this being a trilogy, the author could have spaced out this information more, showing more, rather than telling the reader about these characters. I think the author should have focused more on the plot, than the characters, as this type of story could do far better as a plot driven book, with the characters and their background as a secondary element. I felt the way the author did it was the characters had to much importance, which isn’t a bad thing, but they all keep dying off….. or do they?

Which leads me into another issue I had with the book; character deaths that weren’t really deaths. So there was an upside to this, some interesting twists. The down sides were, because it was done so much, certain “twists” weren’t as impressive, because the same thing kept happening; it was easy to no longer be surprised if a “dead” character came back. One character in particular coming back irritated me, but I won’t say more on this, because it will be a major spoiler, those of you who have read the book probably know what I mean. But because of this part, I actually had to flip back hundreds of pages, to see if I had missed anything, because it made no sense, I wish this part wasn’t in the book. The ending would have been great if it wasn’t in the book.

Also, the author constantly showed characters who were about to die, thought to be dead, or was good as dead, pops up later on, perfectly fine, a few chapters later. Yes, sometimes this is a good way to build up suspense, and there were some extenuating executions for some characters, but for the most part it was to easy, to convenient that every time a major character was in trouble and about to be dead, that something miraculous, or something unknown saved them. Perhaps there is some explanation that will be told in the one of the next two books, but I found it to be a little too unbelievable.

There were some redeeming qualities of the book, after all I stuck through all 766 ages of it. Although I wasn’t happy with the writing style of the book, the apocalyptic story, the virals and the main story line was interesting. The author has a strength in this regard, he has a very creative mind, and wrote a very interesting, tale. And it is a little different than other vampireish stories out there. If he focused more on the virals, the post-apocalypse, what different virals are, etc., the book would have been a lot better. He was able to build up suspense, and there were times I was involved in the book, wanting to find out more of what was going on with these creatures and some of the characters (excessive background information set a side, the characters in the present weren’t that bad, there past bored me, there present interested me.) I just wish the author focused more on this, and less on filler and unimportant stuff. It’s easy to get bored reading this, and the exciting parts were too spaced out. The cliff hanger ending was a good ploy. I give the author credit for that, he gives enough information throughout the book to grab your interest, and then leaves you hanging. So, even those who, like me, didn’t have the best experience with the book will have to finish off the series. Overall, not the best book I’ve read, in this genre, but it wasn’t horrible. It has potential to be a great book, but for me it just fell short.

Would I recommend it to read: Hmm, I’m not sure. I think a lot of fans of post-apocalyptic stories, and vampireish-zombie like creatures (not exactly sure what they are, some weird vampire-zombie hybrid is my guess), I think would enjoy the book for the most part. Although I think a lot of readers might get frustrated easily with some of the things I was frustrated with, it still is an interesting story, once you get through the annoying bits. But, it isn’t for everyone. I’d approach with caution.

What to read next: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, The Hunger Games, so many choices here.

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Chunkster Challenge, Countdown Challenge, RYOB Challenge.


7 comments:

  1. I'm afraid this one has never appealed to me, and every review I've read hasn't made me want to read it any more than I did when I first heard of it.

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  2. I just bought this book after reading all the reviews and buying into the hype. Lately though, it seems that the reviews on this one have mellowed and now I am wondering if I will like it. At 800 pages, it's a huge investment for me, so I am going to have to find the right time for it. My husband is reading it right now, and he cautions me that it's a little slow in the beginning. I will have to keep your comments in mind as well.

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  3. I've put this one on the back burner because of the problems you mentioned that other bloggers have noted. I'm going to wait for the paperback on this one.

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  4. Amanda - Parts of it intrigued me, and I wanted to try something new in my reading choices. I should have looked more into the reviews, it might have swayed me more towards not reading it.

    Zibilee - I bought the book on sale, without really reading much reviews, I just knew everyone thought it was great. It is very slow in the beginning. The first 200 pages or so were torturous. Parts of it weren't bad, but a lot is just pointless filler.

    Serena - I'm glad to hear other bloggers are feeling the same way. The majority of reviews are so positive, you begin to feel like you're the only one.

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  5. I agree with your review!

    It was just okay for me too... don't quite understand all the hype. I have a feeling I'd like the movie better than the book - if not the fact that they'll have to edit A LOT out of the book to fit it into a 1.5 hour movie!

    My review:
    http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/2010/06/book-review-passage-by-justin-cronin.html

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  6. I am not a fan of vampire or sci fi novels by any means, but I loved The Passage! I would probably give my own blood for a copy of The Twelve, you lucky dog! lol

    Rowena Hailey (H1 Parts)

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    1. I'm still debating about getting the next book. Probably on EBook :)

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