Care for a viral apocalypse? A review of The Passage by Justin Cronin.

What are virals, you say? Some call them smokes, jumps, or dracs. They’re lightning fast, strong, and utterly vicious. And they have a taste for blood. Imagine the world getting run over by these terrifying creatures. This is my review of Justin Cronin’s The Passage, one of the best books I’ve read in a while.

About the book 

“It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.”

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, turned to hell. All that remains is the long fight ahead for the stunned survivors faced with a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.As civilization crumbles, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project, and Brad is determined to protect her. But, for young Amy, escaping is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—toward the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun in the first place.

This book was terrifying for me in the same way that World War Z was terrifying. I can have a crazy imagination so trying to imagine the world or humanity coming to the brink of annihilation as it was described in The Passage wasn’t too hard for me. What terrifies me about stories like these are not really the monsters (i.e., zombies, virals), but the human experiences–losing people you love, watching people change into the stuff of nightmares, losing hope, having hope, realizing what the world has become. In The Passage, people had to adapt and rebuild. The book spanned a lifetime so you could really see how much the world changed from one pivotal event. Their culture and their entire way of life changed in order to survive. In an isolated area, a community of people recreated the social structure and fell into specific roles. Some folks became Houses or the governing body. Some became the Watchers which is like their armed forces. Some took charge of the littles or the children. Some were in charge of materials and goods. Some were in charge of the hospital, medical cart or supplies. It was all pretty interesting how people started building their place in the world even in the midst of destruction. It was also interesting how different things became. Cars were pretty much useless. Of course, the internet became unheard of. They had to visit the nearest broken city to look for some supplies they needed.

It was a pretty long book but it was written in a unique way, broken down in several parts and in different writing styles, so for me it wasn’t too cumbersome to read. The book is like a mix of different other novels and can be overwhelming at times because of all the characters coming in and out, the events and little side stories, but I truly enjoyed this book. The story continues in book 2, The Twelve, which I’d definitely watch out for.

I received a review copy of this book at no cost and with no obligations. All opinions and views expressed here are my own.

About the Author

Born and raised in New England, JUSTIN CRONIN is the author of The Summer Guest — a Booksense national bestseller — and Mary and O’Neil, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Stephen Crane Prize, both for best debut fiction of the year. Other honours for his writing include a Whiting Writer’s Award, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pew Foundation, the National Novella Award, and an Individual Artist’s Fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. His short fiction, book reviews and essays have appeared in the Washington Post and the Boston Globe. He is a Professor of English at Rice University and lives with his family in Houston, Texas.

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