Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Passage

Title: The Passage
Author: Justin Cronin
ISBN: 9780345504975
Release Date: May 17, 2011

            When asked what prompted him to write the book, Cronin has been quoted as saying that his daughter asked him to write a book about a girl who saves the world. The Passage is the result of that request.
            The Passage begins with a variety of small scenes, all told in various voices. A naturally-occurring virus has been found in a jungle. The virus cures all disease and even reverses some of the body’s aging processes. Unfortunately, it also kills its victims. Enter governmental research agencies which begin secret experimentation to try and manipulate the virus into a usable strain. Among other things, the virus is hoped to be used to create soldiers who can heal themselves on the battlefield. These manipulations turn the virus into something dark. Its victims, men carefully chosen from death row, become creatures known as virals: massive, manipulative, terrifyingly strong creatures with near impenetrable exoskeletons. The virals, and the virus, are accidentally unleashed on the American population. I want to note here that this massive plot is all contained in the first section of the book. Our world is over by the time the book reaches the halfway point.
            The rest of The Passage becomes a wonderful quest story. One hundred years have passed since the virus. A small community of people has survived. Their world and their laws are nothing like our own. To ensure their survival, a small band must leave the safety of their commune and venture into what’s left of the world. They don’t know what they will find, or who may still be alive. No one is even sure if the virus spread beyond the United States. Through a brilliant cast of characters and numerous twists, Cronin shows us a world both thrilling and terrifying, and how a little girl may be the key to saving them all.
            Cronin’s writing is absolutely superb. The plot is intricate and includes even minute details of how humanity has survived. As the start to a trilogy, Cronin’s plot could have become too loose or left too many unanswered questions. Rest assured, there is a satisfying conclusion and still enough mystery to keep readers motivated for the sequels. One of his most intriguing mysteries: some of the sections of the book are journal entries being presented at a conference set even further in the future. But is the conference a sign that humanity has triumphed, or that virals have evolved?

Be sure to pick up the paperback edition of The Passage at Garfield Book Company at PLU. Book two, The Twelve, is due out in 2012.

--Kyla Paterno

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