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Review – The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage
by Justin Cronin
784 pages
Published June 8, 2010
Fantasy

I must apologize in advance: I love The Passage so much that I have no words. I’ll do my best, though, because I want all of you to put this on your wishlist, pre-order it, and/or sell your first born child to get it. I DO NOT KID. What is your child good for if not for trading for books?

How do you describe a book that’s 784 pages? Obviously, it’s epic, but there’s so much more. First, to give you an idea of how it starts off, the United States government has heard rumors of vampires in the jungles of Bolivia and sends a team down there to investigate. There is an experiment going on that will hopefully cure all the sicknesses in the world, and while it might not get rid of death, it will stave it off for a very long time. In doing their experiments, the US government lets loose 12 vampires, who, once they get loose, go on a killing rampage. It’s not long before the whole country is either dead or infected with vampirism.

But the vampires aren’t called vampires, they’re called jumps and flyers because of their ability to leap great distances.

Most of the book takes place 90+ years in the future, when there’s only a few humans remaining, as far as we know. There’s some humans left in a fortress-like location in the San Jacinto Mountains. They’ve been able to live in this walled city (if it can be called a city) because of their high walls and lights that come on at night that keep the flyers out. They’ve been there for 90+ years, though, and the lights don’t have much life left. The batteries they’re running on weren’t meant to last this long, so they need to do something before their lights go out and the flyers come in, hungry and looking for fresh blood.

Obviously this book is long. And when you start reading, you’ll understand why. Cronin likes to explain and describe and really “set the stage”. Cronin can drop the reader in a place and time that doesn’t even exist and have them freaking out that they don’t know how to build a radio. THAT is talent. And it. is. awesome.

Like I said, the book is Big and Cronin describes a lot (characters’ history, the setting, etc), but what you don’t know right away is that nothing Cronin tells you is superfluous. Everything comes full circle, and Cronin will bring up tiny details that you thought were inconsequential. I often praise an author for telling a story with as few words as possible, but I’m going to now praise Cronin for completely immersing his reader in the world he’s created.

Cronin makes this future world so believable, so realistic, that I called up the radio guys in my department, all freaked out and insisting that I wanted to learn how to build my own radio. If the world comes to an end, radios and those who know how to use them will be invaluable. So this year I want to not only learn how to use a ham radio, but I want to learn to build one on my own. That’s how real this story was.

I would compare The Passage to The Lord of the Rings trilogy because this is an epic book with an adventure that takes the characters on a long journey, and readers will get sucked into this world just like they got sucked into The Lord of the Rings.

I fear that by mentioning vampires, anyone who isn’t in to that or is all, Oh, vampires *yawn*, won’t pick this up. Don’t be that guy. Don’t be that guy that doesn’t get their mitts on this book immediately because there’s ‘hype’. Don’t be that guy who doesn’t read this because it’s such a tome. Don’t be that guy!

I really really hate that my thoughts are not doing The Passage justice. Oftentimes it’s easier to say what doesn’t work rather than what does work, and that’s the dilemma I have here. Everything works in this book. I suggest you pre-order this book NOW.

Rating: 100 out of 100

(I know I don’t normally post reviews before a book is out, but sometimes I think it’s necessary so you can be prepared. I’m thinking of you, man!)

Here’s the website for The Passage.

And here’s an even better website where you can track the spread of the outbreak, if you’re on Twitter you can find out the likelihood that you’ll get infected (I have a 66% chance, though the program doesn’t know I live in California, but if you’ve read the book, you’ll know that living in California is better than most places!), and do other fun stuff: Find Subject Zero.

82 comments »

82 Responses to “Review – The Passage by Justin Cronin”

  1. bermudaonion (Kathy)

    I’m glad you added that bit at the end because my eyes kind of glazed over when I read vampires.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I mean, even if someone isn’t into fantasy, you’d still recommend The Lord of the Rings, right? Some things are just universally awesome, and I think this is one of those things. :)

    [Reply]

    Jen - Devourer of Books Reply:

    I have to say, the LotR comparison is almost turning me off. I’m still totally going to read The Passage, but I got about halfway through the LotR trilogy and gave up in boredom.

    [Reply]

  2. Heather

    I have it! I have it and I can’t wait to read it! Soon, very soon.

    I didn’t read your review; didn’t have to, you already made me want to read it.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    !!!

    I can’t wait until you read it!

    [Reply]

  3. raych

    I JUST READ THIS!!!!11!!

    This is the exact conversation I had with Joel. Joel: What’s your book about? Me: Vampires. Joel: *face* Me: Don’t be that guy.

    It’s hella good.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I know, right?! So I feel like the conversation has to be:

    Person: What are you reading?

    Me: The Passage, whichisaboutvampiresbutiswearitsreallygood.

    Like you have to rush through the vampire part.

    [Reply]

  4. SFP

    How’s this? I’m number one on the library waiting list for THE PASSAGE and I’ve also pre-ordered it at Amazon. I’m going to finish ULYSSES on Bloomsday and then reward myself by reading Justin Cronin’s honking big book on vampires come hell or high water.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    That’s why I love you.

    [Reply]

  5. Lorin

    sounds fantastic. Hopefully I’ll remember you wrote this when the book comes out.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I’ll be re-posting this review on the day the book comes out. Believe me, I WILL NOT LET YOU FORGET. I even told a group of folks recently: If you read one book this year, read The Passage.

    [Reply]

  6. Kristi

    Preorder…check!

    Sounds amazing. Can’t wait for June now.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Woo! I promise you will love it. I wouldn’t steer you wrong!

    [Reply]

  7. Carrie K.

    I have it, too – my Dad is bringing my ARC back to me tomorrow – he loved it. I gave it to him to get it out of the house so i wouldn’t be tempted during ROOB, but I will definitely be starting it this weekend!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    That was smart of you! I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. I’ll be lurking on Twitter watching for you to talk about it. :)

    [Reply]

  8. Jenners

    Wow. 100 out of 100. How can I ignore that??????

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    You can’t! The last book I rated that high was THE LIKENESS by Tana French.

    [Reply]

  9. Amused

    I love it when someone recommends a book with this much passion! How can I pass it up?!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    You can’t! :) Wish I had the ARC still…I’d totally send it to you! Since we’re so close and all. :)

    [Reply]

  10. Ryan

    This book is going on my wishlist right now. It sounds wonderful even with the vampires, which I must admit I’m a little burned out on right now. Used to love them and couldn’t get enough. Thanks for the review and the contribution to my reading pile.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I totally agree about getting burned out on vampires. But I’m glad you’re still willing to read this!

    [Reply]

  11. Alipet813

    I am reading this now. I am loving it as well! I can’t wait to finish and then get my review up. It is vampires but SO MUCH MORE. I think it will be hard to really do this book justice in a review.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Yay! And yeah, so hard to do this book justice. Good luck! LOL

    [Reply]

  12. heidenkind

    Wow. I don’t want to be that guy!!!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    No, you don’t. Don’t be that guy.

    *snicker*

    [Reply]

  13. Lisa

    I usually steer as far away from vampires as I can, especially vampires in books that almost 800 pages long. But, dang 100/100? That’s compelling!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    YES. 100/100. I’ve only ever given one other book that score, and that was THE LIKENESS. One other book got 99/100 and that was THE UNNAMED.

    [Reply]

  14. alita

    I’m so glad I kept reading past the ‘it has vampires’ revelation. This sounds so good! Adding this to my to-read list right now.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    HA! I should have been all, It has vampiresbutdontstopreading!

    [Reply]

  15. diane

    A big WOW for this book and your review Trish.Looking forward to getting my hands on this one; thanks so much

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Yay! Music to my ears.

    [Reply]

  16. Sandy

    AND, more fun is coming because it is a trilogy! AND it is going to be a movie! I have it on order on audio from the library. Your excitement made me all wiggly, hoping it comes soon!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I know! A trilogy! Too bad the next book isn’t due out until the freaking END OF THE WORLD….2012 (I believe).

    [Reply]

  17. Amy

    OK. I’m sold. I don’t have children or want them but the thought of exchanging them for books does give them more value to me ;) (joking!) (mostly!)

    Seriously though, your review has me wanting this book really badly. I can’t believe you posted it NOW and it doesn’t come out until JUNE! Very unfair ;)

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    But just so that I don’t forget, I am pre-ordering it at the moment!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Woo! You’re a smart lady. :)

    [Reply]

  18. S. Krishna

    Great, great review. I totally agree with you re: Cronin’s ability to set the stage and suck the reader into a world so completely. I’m continually amazed by his world-building skills. I do think the book moves slowly, but that’s not a bad thing for this book.

    Okay, I was going to write more, but I realized that this was going to turn into my review of the book if I didn’t stop there. I’ve got 200 pages left and am hoping to finish this weekend!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Can’t wait to hear what you think of the ending. It has an ending that you’ll just want to scream, “NNNNNOOOO!!!!”

    [Reply]

  19. zibilee

    I am so ridiculously excited about this book, it’s not even funny. I’m so glad to hear that it’s such an amazing read and that it’s so wonderfully descriptive. I love books that suck you in and that you can get lost in. Totally going to pre-order this one. Thanks for the great review Trish!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    You’ll totally love it. GAH! I wish I had a copy to send to all my friends.

    [Reply]

  20. frankie

    Oh good, I’ll order it now. I’m reading, The Postmistress, and it just isn’t grabbing me. “The Passage” sounds like something I can curl around and snarl at people if they interrupt. Thanks

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    ACK! THE POSTMISTRESS isn’t grabbing you? I totally loved that book…

    [Reply]

    frankie Reply:

    Sorry, THE POSTMISTRESS

    [Reply]

    frankie Reply:

    Sorry. THE POSTMISTRESS and I just didn’t work.. I believe it’s because I read it on the Reader. I didn’t like or care for anyone but Harry.

    [Reply]

  21. kigen

    Okay, I came over from an upside-down post you left on another blog, and turns out vampire mayhem is your 100% gotaread?? You can’t be serious !! but if that’s the case, you’re bloody cool, and I’m riveted. ((-:

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    HA! I’ve never been called bloody cool, but I think I like it. ;-) You’ll see I like quite a variety of books!

    [Reply]

  22. Suey

    This is one I’m scared to read any reviews for because I want to have my VERY OWN reaction to it! :) My husband “stole” my copy and is reading it first… as soon as he is done, I’m on to it!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    DUDE. As soon as your husband gives it back, hunker down and read it. And tell me if you don’t feel like you need to learn how to build a radio!

    [Reply]

  23. Amy

    I’m convinced! It’s been added to the list.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Yay!

    [Reply]

  24. Lu

    100/100?! zomg. Must. have. now.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I KNOW. Seriously.

    [Reply]

  25. Jenny

    I never thought I would be that person who made a face upon hearing the word “vampire” in a book synopsis. I used to love vampires! But with all the vampires everywhere, and I can’t even walk into the YA section at the bookshop without feeling like I am inhaling trashy bad-messages vampire vibes, I am tired of them. POSSIBLY FOREVER. If I ever come back from this vampire hiatus I am on, I have a backlist of, like, twenty vampire books I want to read. *sigh* *fistshake at Stephenie Meyer*

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    JENNY, this is so much more than a vampire book. SERIOUSLY, do not make me come to your house and watch you read this. Don’t be that guy!

    [Reply]

  26. nomadreader

    I cannot wait to read this book, and your review is seriously not helping that desire. I’m choosing to look on the positive side, however, and be thankful I haven’t gotten to read the book now because it would not have fit in during this chaotic semester. I will semi-patiently wait until June 8 (or perhaps BEA if I’m lucky!)

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I believe the book will be available at BEA. But yeah, it would derail your whole schedule…it’s just that huge. LOL

    [Reply]

  27. Jess - A Book Hoarder

    Umm…seriously how can I not read The Passage after a review like this! Just when I was feeling so good about toning down my wishlist you go and ruin it all.

    [Reply]

  28. Heather

    a perfect rating? Wow. I definitely have to get a copy of this one, and soon. Thanks Trish! (I plan to not be that guy.)

    [Reply]

  29. Melody

    I won’t sell my children, but I’m definitely getting this book!!! June seems like a long time to me!

    [Reply]

  30. Beth F

    In my usual style, I completely skipped your review. Twitter says you gave it 100/100. Okay. I delay no longer and will be starting this just as soon as I finish Henrietta Lacks (staring and finishing today?). Even if you don’t have spoilers, I need to go into the Passage as innocent of pre-knowledge as possible. I’ll be back…

    [Reply]

  31. Sadie

    I added it to my TBR list, unfortunately I do not have a first-born to be offered, so I’ll have to wait for it to come out. Thanks for such a passionate review!

    [Reply]

  32. Aths

    I’ve had an eye on this book, since I first noticed it in Shelf Awareness! So glad it is truly awesome!

    [Reply]

  33. Robin of My Two Blessings

    Sounds good. Will keep this one in mind for getting after have whittled down my chunkster pile a bit.

    [Reply]

  34. Sheila DeChantal

    I think your first sentence summed up the book for me. :) I want to read it too now :)

    [Reply]

  35. jennygirl

    If this book makes you want to learn how to build and operate ham radios, then it must be good. I loke the premise, even though it’s vamps, because it’s a different take on vampires.
    Thanks for recommendation.

    [Reply]

  36. Joanne

    I think your review is awesome! I’ve got maybe 100 pages left – I burned through the first 600 and now I’m forcing myself to sloooow down and savor the rest. I’m really, really hoping that people will look beyond the mention of vampires, because this book is about so much more than that!

    [Reply]

  37. Chrisbookarama

    OMG! Yes, on every point! It will blow your mind, people!

    [Reply]

  38. Jo-Jo

    Oh, I can’t wait to read this one now…yours is the first review that I have read and I have the ARC at home. I just have a couple of books to finish before I can get to it though….please let me read quicker! lol

    [Reply]

  39. Lydia

    You’ve really sold the book to me! I wasn’t sure what to think when you first mentioned vampires but the concept sounds very intriguing. It’s on my list.

    [Reply]

  40. Bookfool, aka Nancy

    Vampires? Really? I have this one by my bed, so I don’t have to sell my firstborn, although I’m tempted to do so anyway. It’s a good thing he’s moving even farther away from us.

    [Reply]

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  44. Luanne Ollivier

    Okay so I so didn’t read your review Trish – I want to be totally unaware when I finally get my hands on a copy!!

    [Reply]

  45. Ti

    I enjoyed this one just about as much as you. I didn’t know about the website though. WOW!! Totally freaky!

    [Reply]

  46. Stephanie

    I think that this was one of the books around BEA, but I totally missed it!
    :( I’m going on vacation next week and may just have to break down and buy the hardcover (which I never do) to take with me!!

    [Reply]

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  49. Joanna Tozier ()

    I read your review AFTER just posting mine. You loved this book more then me, but I did like it. I understand not having words to convey about it. People just have to read it to understand.
    I thought Lord of the Rings was better, but I think that’s just because there was some romance in it. The Passage held NO romance, a little love, but no romance.

    [Reply]

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