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.

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:


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.

book cover humor

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Veronica Mars types on a Mac

Website guru

In addition to doing editing and setup on our books, Emily designed our website, so kudos to her! I just wanted to point that out, 'cause the website is cool. And, as usual, she did pretty much all of it except for the words in the books--for instance, this is hers:

Mark R. Hunter is a published author from northeast Indiana. He likes chocolate, sunny days, and long walks between his couch and the 'fridge.


She's kidding, of course. Or ... is she?

In any case, she just updated http://www.markrhunter.com/ with info about our newest published book, More Slightly Off the Mark, as well as as blurb about our need for help with the Albion Fire Department photo project.

book cover humor

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book cover humor

Still Seeking Fire Photos, Despite Distractions

I mentioned in the last newsletter that I set my latest non-fiction project on the back burner several months ago. I was collecting photographs for a very picture-heavy history of our local fire department, which has the working title of Awesome Albion Fire Picture Book Insert Title Here.

I mean, the book has that title--not the fire department. That would be silly, and require us to letter all the trucks A.A.F.P.B.I.T.H.F.D.

Not fiscally responsible.

At the time I had a logical reason for putting it aside and working on some other writing projects, including the first draft of my favorite novel yet, We Love Trouble. (It's about a couple who, well, loves trouble.) I also wanted to get More Slightly Off the Mark published, which we have, although I've delayed promoting it until we have a chance to update the website.

I'm sure you're wondering why I decided to push back the fire photo book, which also has the proposed working title of Firefighting photo folio.

What? You're not wondering about the delay?

Well, I am. Because I have no idea.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, that's the best I can come up with. I really did have a plan, I swear. It's just that I didn't write the plan down. It doesn't help that I have a list of several dozen story ideas waiting to be addressed, from a Storm Chaser prequel to my own Oz book, not to mention the demand for my autobiography should be starting up any time now.

Now I'm back to collecting pictures--I've already got most of the framing text for the book done. You'll probably hear a fair amount in the future of me begging to borrow any photo anyone has involving the Albion Volunteer Fire Department, be it volunteers, firefighting action, the trucks, or the old firehouses. (For those of you not from around here, I'm talking Albion, Indiana, not one of the two dozen others around the USA.)

I'll have been a volunteer forty years this coming July, and I suppose to a certain extent this is my coda, as you music buffs might put it. My tribute to our people and our 130 odd year history, which sometimes could get very odd, indeed. I want to do it right.

So--and here's the part where I beg to borrow--if any of you have any photos involving the AFD you'd be willing to loan me for the project, I'd be greatly appreciative. I (by which I mean my wife) can scan prints into her computer, then return the original. I'd especially like to see our people in the book, past or present--this is about them, more than anything.

By the time I'm done, with any luck at all ... I'll have come up with a better title.

(It'll be like a combination of these two books -- but more pictures and less talk, which many people have said they'd like to see out of me.)

Oh, and of course you can contact me through our website: