The Passage by Justin Cronin (The Passage #1)

Synopsis:

6690798An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.

Review:

There’s 300 great pages in this book – 100 at the beginning, 100 in the middle, and 100 right at the end. For most novels that would be perfect. For the 776 page The Passage, however, it leaves much to slog through.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re 300 really good pages. The world Cronin sets up is contained yet massive, crazy yet believable. The mystery kept me going but a third of the way through the whole thing goes POOF and we’re forced to restart with a ton of new characters in a completely different setting. I was so disgusted that I put the book down for a day, too demoralized to pick it back up.

I liked that:

  • The women were often on equal footing with the men in the later sections of the book. One of the female characters ended up doing most of the driving (gasp) and the best fighter was a woman. I felt like each person in the group filled the most fitting role regardless of gender.
  • Gender wasn’t ignored. In a post-apocalyptic world with few humans fertile females are a commodity, no getting around it.
  • The end was tied up neatly but let you know where the next book is headed.

I didn’t like:

  • How Amy was treated later in the book.  That’s the most I can say spoiler-free.
  • The sheer number of characters dumped on you a third of the way through. I still don’t feel like I have everyone straight.
  • At times the action scenes were confusing. One with moving vehicles in particular left me confused as to who was doing what where.

Part of me says this book should be a four star read for its “literary value” (whatever that is), but the fact that I had to drag myself to the page more often than not makes it a three.

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