Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book Review: "The Passage" by Justin Cronin

Wow. This was quite a book. Many in the publishing world have labeled Justin Cronin's The Passage a great "beach read," but at nearly 800 pages, you'll need to work out a little first in order to hold the book up for such a long period of time! (Books like this are the reason I love my Kindle...) I've been a fan of Justin Cronin for a while, but his first two books are tame compared to this. Cross Stephen King's The Stand with a little of Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain and Stephenie Meyer's vampires (although not the sensitive, brooding ones) and you've just scratched the surface of the book.

This is a gigantic, compelling story that starts in the not-too-distant future with a sense of foreboding, as a team of scientists and researchers travel to South America to research a vampiric bat virus. Only a few make it back alive. Fast forward to a Colorado laboratory, where a researcher has harvested the virus to create a more invincible soldier in the wake of the world's problems. The virus makes people immortal and indestructible, but of course, those are good things only in the right situation. The 12 human test cases—criminals rescued from death sentences—become a race of vampire-like creatures called virals. And then all hell breaks loose, as the virals escape and the virus sweeps the US and the world, and mass casualties, war and destruction ensue. Only a young abandoned girl named Amy holds the key to saving the world.

My description oversimplifies the book a bit, because in its nearly 800 pages, there's so much amazing plot and character development, I'd be sure to spoil some of the frightening and heartbreaking discoveries if I gave more information. While at times the book runs a little slowly, this is a phenomenal story, filled with characters you'll love and those you'll hate, situations that will make you cringe and those that will make you think. Of course, like all good books, Hollywood has already optioned the film rights, but I'd definitely recommend you read the book first. It may keep you up a few nights, but unlike The Stand you won't worry you're in trouble every time you cough! (Or maybe that was just me.) Seriously, read this one!

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