It's all fine and good for publishers to spout "this is the book of the year!" and tired old catch phrases like "un-putdownable" (what?!) and "will keep you up late". But you know, sometimes they're right. And, in the case of Justin Cronin's The Passage, I think they're really, really right.
It's rare, maybe once per year, that I read a book that hooks me as completely as this one has. Part early Stephen King (that "early" part is important), part early Michael Crichton, with a healthy dose of Cormac McCarthy for good measure; Justin Cronin has crafted a finely tuned yet hefty post-apocalyptic epic. Are there vampires? Yeah, there are. But don't, for a second, confuse them with Stephanie Meyer's glitter-skinned, extravagantly coiffed blood suckers. They don't quip clever comebacks. They don't watch you while you sleep, sighing with the emotional pain of not being able to hold you in their frigid arms. No. Justin Cronin's vampires are the product of a US Military experiment gone wrong, a virus that turns people into monsters with no sense of right and wrong. It's bite first and, if they're really hungry, just keep on biting till there's nothing left but hamburger. If, after being turned into hamburger, you're still alive then you get the honor of become a "viral" as well. The virus spreads fast and within a year the population of the world is decimated and all that remains are 40 million or so bloodthirsty monsters.
Except that's not all that remains.
And that's where the book really takes off. Pockets of humans have survived in colonies behind walls with huge light arrays and organized militias. But after 100 years living on batteries, fighting for every day of survival, and no contact from the outside world something must be done.
For a book this exciting, this massive, you wouldn't expect it to be beautifully written. You don't expect your heart to ache for characters that you didn't expect to love. But suddenly there it is. Mere pages after you think your going to pump out so much adrenaline you might just give yourself a stroke (can that even happen? I doubt it, but it sounds good!) from the excitement you find tears blotting the page for the heartbreak. Seriously, this book is amazing.
So, I'm going to do it. This is the book of the year. The Passage is unputdownable and, i promise, it will keep you up late. You thought The DaVinci Code was a big hit? Dan Brown is a flaming sack of dog poo compared to Justin Cronin. But i guess you'll just have to wait until June 8 to find out for yourself.
In the meantime there's a pretty great Viral (heh, get it?!) website here to entertain yourself with at. Pass it on to your friends and see if you can't freak them out.
posted by Autumn