The Passage (The Passage, #1)

The Passage (The Passage, #1)

The Passage by Justin Cronin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Passage has been on my TBR list for years, but for some reason has always been pushed to the side in favor of something newer and shinier. Which is strange, because it contains a lot of elements that I really enjoy, or at least enjoy reading about, like vampires and the world spiraling into a dystopian apocalypse. Better late than never, I suppose. Once I finally picked this up, I was engrossed.

Before she became the Girl from Nowhere—the One Who Walked In, the First and Last and Only, who lived a thousand years—she was just a little girl in Iowa, named Amy. Amy Harper Bellafonte.

The story begins with the birth of one of our protagonists, Amy. Despite her mother’s best intentions and efforts, Amy gets a rough start in life. However, as the world begins to spiral into madness, Amy makes two very good friends who would do anything to protect her. Because unbeknownst to world, Amy might be the only person who can save it.

The world was a world of dreaming souls who could not die.

Something I found incredibly interesting about this book is the fact that it honestly felt like a self-contained trilogy, even though it’s only the first book of an actual trilogy. The second part of this book takes place nearly ninety years after the events that wreck the United States and lead to the few survivors having no idea what has happened in the rest of the world. We are introduced to a community of people who are the offspring of children shipped out of large cities by train, to save them from the horrors approaching their homes. This community believes that they are likely all that’s left of the world. Their problem is that the batteries that power the lights, lights which burn all night every night to keep the monsters away, are beginning to fail. Without the lights, they are doomed. While trying to find an answer to this battery problem, our new cast of characters suddenly see something they thought was impossible: a Walker, someone from outside their walls who is still alive and unchanged. In the Walker’s wake, the community is forever changed.

A baby wasn’t an idea, as love was an idea. A baby was a fact. It was a being with a mind and a nature, and you could feel about it any way you liked, but a baby wouldn’t care. Just by existing, it demanded that you believe in a future: the future it would crawl in, walk in, live in. A baby was a piece of time; it was a promise you made that the world made back to you. A baby was the oldest deal there was, to go on living.

There were quite a few characters from this community that I really enjoyed. Theo, a fledgling leader growing into his roll. Auntie, the only person still alive who remembers the Time Before. Sara, a nurse with a bruised heart and most courage then she thought. Michael, the tech on whose shoulders the battery problem lays, and whose intelligence is through the roof. Alicia, a warrior unlike any woman her world has ever seen. But my favorite is Peter, Theo’s brother who finds himself questioning his place and part in his community. Peter’s character development was honestly incredible. His personality reminded me a bit of Nick from Stephen King’s The Stand, which for me is pretty high praise. Peter goes from a boy who tries to fade into the background without disappointing anyone, to a brave and thoughtful leader. I really enjoyed watching him grow.

Such a simple thing to want. To be a person; to live a human life.

I felt that this particular apocalypse was fairly original. The government wants a super soldier serum, but ends up turning their death-row guinea pigs into freaky vampire things. When these vamps find a way to basically take over the world, everything spirals into chaos. The mind control and broadcasted dreams and hive mind mentality were all very interesting and different additions to this vampire apocalypse that I thought were well handled.

Courage is easy, when the alternative is getting killed. It’s hope that’s hard.

I only had two problems with this book, and they were both fairly minor. First, over the nearly 800 pages there were multiple instances were the narrative dragged, and I would find myself inadvertently skimming and having to go back and reread sections. I think the book could have been tightened up and shortened by about 100 pages, which would have made the story stronger. Also, there were quite a few plot twists that ended up feeling too convenient, which is strange to say about a dystopian novel. There were too many miraculous saves.

What strange places our lives can carry us to, what dark passages.

The Passage was a very enjoyable first installment of a trilogy that I definitely intend to continue. It was action-packed and original, and I found myself thinking about it even when I wasn’t reading. I can’t help comparing it to other novels I’ve read in this genre. The Passage felt like a mix of The Stand and The Girl with All the Gifts, but less literary and with vamps instead of zombies. I would highly recommend this book to any fan of dystopian fiction.

You can purchase a copy of the book here, with free shipping worldwide!

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