Thursday, July 15, 2010

Review: The Passage

My husband recently read The Passage by Justin Cronin and suggested I may want to hold off on reading it (I'm just not sure I'm in a place where I want to read scary things right now). Instead, he agreed to let me interview him about the book.

In just a couple of sentences, can you tell us what The Passage is about?

The Passage is a dystopian vision of the Western United States where society has collapsed under the oppression of a genetically engineered race of monsters. The survivors live in a constant state of siege trying to scratch out a meager existence. The crux of the drama focuses on a small group of defenders on a hopeful quest (hence the title The Passage) to secure help/resources for their community.

What made you decide to read it?

I decided to read it after my favorite book reviewer suggested I crack it open. I also was at three social events on three consecutive days where everyone seemed to be talking about it. I had also just loaded the B&N e-reader onto my iPhone, and thought I would put it through it's paces by chugging through a 700+ page book. The Passage fit the bill nicely.

Aw, I'm "your favorite book reviewer." That's so sweet. Also, wise to say since I know where you sleep.

700 pages is a lot no matter what the format. Did it seem long? Too long?

Actually, no, it wasn't too long... but then again I am a big fan of the epic story line. If though you are looking for a quick summer read this isn't it. It also isn't a light-hearted, sweet and fluffy piece. It's dark, and make no mistake, it's got horror in its bones.

For the most part the action and plot rolled along well. There were only a few chapters that seemed slow, but this was just obligatory background and atmospheric stuff that taken in the context of the whole story were necessary to communicate to the reader. On that note, Cronin has a very simple communication style. It is descriptive but not overly wordy which I believe will make this book accessible to many readers.

One word of caution: despite the basic writing style, this book has so many characters in so many geographic locations over such long time periods that taking a short break in reading could present a challenge. I happened to chug through this book in about three days so I didn't run into this problem, but I could see that if a reader approached this tome in a casual manner they could easily be confused.

So, it sounds like you liked it, then. What did you like the most about The Passage?

I think I liked the dystopian aspect best for a couple reasons.
First, it gets you thinking about how fragile our society is, and what you would do in tough times. Not necessarily when bloodsucking monsters attack, but you know... when things go really south and our world turns on it's ear. It's that pervasive fantasy that makes you think you'd have what it takes. The hubris that makes you think that you above others would have the gumption to be one of the survivors.

Secondly, and on a more cheerful note, I am also a big fan of movies and books where the common man rallies against uncommon odds, successfully or not. And that's what this book is all about.

Well, knowing you, I am sure you'd be one of the survivors. Too bad you'd be saddled with me, the least outdoorsy woman you know.

But back to the book - would you recommend this book to other readers? Who do you think might enjoy it?

I would recommend it to a mature reader who enjoyed post-apocalyptic fiction. I believe that you'll like this if you liked:
Thanks to my fantastic husband for helping me out and sharing his thoughts!

Buy The Passage on Amazon.


  1. I like this style of book review! Good work. I don't think I have the stomach to read that right now either.

  2. Fun idea here. So it's more genre-y than The Road?

  3. Yes, it's much like The Road... both are about man's search for hope, but the Passage is about collective humanity and a person's obligation to society. On the other hand The Road is about what morality and responsibility mean to the individual. To me The Road is a more introspective and personally told story of horror. It’s also more of a cautionary tale than is The Passage. Lastly, while it is true that The Passage plays off of many genres and themes, it never seems trite.

    - The Aforementioned Husband/Author


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