Pages: 766 pages (ARE)
Finished: June 24, 2010
First Published: Jun. 8, 2010
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: science fiction, apocalyptic
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.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Random House.
Reason for Reading: As soon as I heard of this book, which was before any of the buzz or hype had started, I knew I had to read it as I love apocalyptic novels and this had all the ingredients that made it sound like a book I had to read.
First, all the buzz, the hype, the comparisons to classics in this genre and the talk about this book is true. I fell into this door stopper tome and became hypnotized by the world I had entered. I can't remember the last time I carted an almost 800 page book to the beach with me! But once I had started reading, I was trapped and could only stop reading for the very essentials of life. I have not read Justin Cronin before but this is an author who can write and I will be checking out his two previous works.
Essentially, this is the story of a girl who saves the world. The plot is so complex it is almost impossible to give a summary without writing pages but I'll try. A hideous scientific experiment goes terribly wrong and a virus is exposed in the United States. It eventually destroys modern civilization on the North American continent (the fate of the world is unknown), leaving behind scattered groups of survivors and horrible infected persons who have been turned into something no longer human. Because of their lust for blood and some of their habits such as death by exposure to light the media, in the early days referred to them as vampires and occasionally to the virus as the "vamp virus". However, throughout the book various groups have different names for the infected ones, most commonly called virals, and while some names such as "dracs" refer to vampires, everyone knows these are people who have been infected with a virus. In my humble opinion, this is not a vampire book.
One of the survivors is a little girl who was also experimented on, the last one. She turned out different though, she appears perfectly normal and a CIA agent rescues her where they then flee to the mountains and live a reclusive life. A hundred years go by and now commences the majority of the book. How life is being lead now with the remains of civilization around the new societies, living in a world where nighttime is to be avoided, using sources such as batteries but having no replacements once they are gone. This life can only last so long and one day into it walks a girl. A strange girl, who may hold the fate of humankind in her hands.
I just love this book so much!! There are so many characters and all are so deftly created to be complete, complex human beings. The world Cronin has created is amazingly real and is one that is completely believable of a post-apocalyptic society. His characters deal with real issues such as brotherly tensions, falling in love when it is not reciprocated and when it is, overcoming personal fears, and personal growth. The Passage is a journey in many ways. A physical one across land, one of growth personally for each character and a spiritual one as deep questions are raised and realized.
My only problem with the book is that nowhere in the book's description does it tell me that this is the first in a proposed trilogy. It took a little googling to find that out. So the ending is an ending but it is also a beginning and while I look forward to continuing with the story in the future I was a little miffed at first that the seven hundred odd pages wasn't going to give me a finite ending. My final word, though, is if you like post-apocalyptic books this is a Must Read as it will no doubt go on to become a classic.