July 1st, 2020

Ozma Read

book review: The Passage, by Justin Cronin

Sometimes I think my wife and I are the kiss of death to TV shows. Whenever we really get into a new one--canceled. (Don't get me started on "Emergence".)

But it gives us a chance to check out the almost always superior book version, if there is one. So when another great show, "The Passage" got canceled, we just transitioned over to the Justin Cronin novel it was based on, which is even better than the show--if you have the time.

Oh, yeah. The time. Looking for a read to take you into retirement? Have some vacation time coming? Planning to cut all electronic entertainment, or possibly set a world record for sitting alone on a couch?

Then try The Passage. But if you get the print version, you might want to work out first so you can hold it up while you turn the pages.

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What would you expect? They canceled Firefly, too.


785 pages. The Passage, in fact, is three times longer than my first published novel--and it's only the first in a trilogy. You can check it out here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003TJA8Y2

So how can I ask you, the people with so little time and so much to do, to tackle a book so long it could be titled War and Peace and More War?

With great enthusiasm.

What's The Passage about? Whew. Okay, here we go.

Government Agent Brad Wolgast is on a mission to collect death row inmates, who are being sent to a shadowy Federal base--what for, he doesn't know. But when he's told to pick up Amy, a recently abandoned six year old, Wolgast--whose own daughter died young--rebels. He soon discovers the experiments being done on Amy and the inmates could bring huge benefits for humanity ... or destroy civilization.

Yeah, that's just the first quarter of the book. The story's really about Amy, who may be the only person who can save the world, and then a group of survivors who find the effects of the experiments may--or may not--have left them the last people on Earth.

Then it gets complicated.

I can't say much more about the plot, because, as my wife and I kept saying as we read it, "S**t is going DOWN". Stephen King called The Passage "Enthralling", and I think that might be the best description. I read it during our staycation, and finished the whole thing in seventeen days, which can be compared to eating all the chocolate in Willy Wonka's factory in two hours. I lost sleep, I ate during meals--at one point I'm pretty sure I ate a napkin. I kept switching between my Kindle and my phone so I could go on reading whenever I had a few minutes.

Cronin fits in a lot of description, and yet I hardly noticed. His writing at times was nerve wracking, as his characters race toward disaster--or, occasionally, disaster races toward them. As a reader who reserves five stars for only the very best of writing, I wish I could add a sixth for The Passage.

But I might need a rest before I tackle book 2.

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Next.