Saturday, 31 July 2010

A Year in Books 2010 - The Passage

Massively hyped, film rights already sold to Ridley Scott, nearly 800 pages long, first part of a trilogy, end of days scenario, vampires...... no come back!!

The Passage is something that I would never normally buy but I'm lucky enough to work somewhere that occasionally has free preview copies of books kicking around and a number of people who wouldn't normally be seen in the fantasy / sci fi / horror sections of bookshops had said it had got them hooked so I thought I'd give it a go.

Faced with an each way 2hour journey to York for a work meeting I thought I'd read a couple of chapters and then start doing some work. I never got to do any work. I spent all the time reading the Passage, and then when I got home it became one of those I'll just read another chapter until you realise that it is now the past midnight on a school night and your partner is muttering to turn the dam light off.

The book starts in true Michael Crichton style with lots of short chapters concentrating on a few core characters. The old seasoned government agent who works on a project doing something decidedly dodgy to death row prisoners, the single mother and her heartbreaking decision to leave her child and the nun trying to escape the trauma of her youth. Add in a scientific / military expedition in Bolivia that goes horribly wrong and you've got the set up for your better than average holiday thriller.

Just a you get used to all the characters, the author Justin Cronin, pulls the rug from under your feet and we jump forward 100 years where society as we know it has completely broken down and small fortified communities try to survive against packs of people who have "turned". Cronin handles the fact that the "turned" are a form of vampire really well.. this is more I am Legend (the book not the awful Will Smith film) than Twilight, thank god. The new society with it's own customs and beliefs based on vague memories of a time before and the need to survive is handled exceptionally well and as a new set of core characters emerge you really start to care for their fate.

Again just as you get into a rhythm, Cromin throws in an event that links the 2 parts of the book and the plot again shifts this time to one involving an epic journey. There's a large cast outside the core characters but Cronin's literary background tells in that time is given to give each of them a sense of depth that you don't always get in the genre.

It come across as a bit of a cross between Stephen King's the Stand and Cormac McCarthy's The Road but that is vastly over simplifying it.

Don't be put of by the vampire element this is a great holiday read that acts like a literary novel.

I can't wait for part 2!

You can buy The Passage here

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