Book Review: The Passage

The Passage (The Passage, #1)The Passage by Justin Cronin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A vampire book that isn’t your typical vampire book. A more realistic take on the genre, with viruses and genetics and rational explanations and plagues and guns and danger and everything else you can stuff into a thick book. Should be great, right? That’s what I thought, at least. And it certainly was intriguing. The first act of the book was really good–I was reading at a fast clip, and it was getting more and more engrossing. Then act II hits, and I stopped.

Not a brick wall sort of a stop. More slowed down in molasses. The book was still good, but I wasn’t reading it very quickly anymore. I had to sort of force myself to keep going. I don’t want to say exactly why, because I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who might be thinking about it, but suffice it to say that I think you need to be very careful about alienating your readers by the way you treat your characters as an author. Readers build up a relationship with characters, and there’s a fine line between being predictable and going too far.

I’m not saying Cronin passed that line. After all, I still finished the book, and I enjoyed it, more or less (although it did commit the heinous sin of deciding to be book 1 of a series without alerting me of the fact). Even so, Cronin definitely looked over the edge of the line on numerous occasions, and that’s all I’ll say about that for now.

What was good? It was certainly of epic proportions, and you couldn’t accuse it of being predictable. There were character pieces in it that were very moving and hard to read. What was not so good? Sometimes there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. Lots of characters in this one–lots and lots. It’s hard at times to feel really invested in any one or two, because as a reader you’re scared Cronin is going to make those story lines irrelevant. And he arguably does. Be warned.

That said, the book was good. Not great for me, but good. It’s done all right for itself, so clearly it’s great for some people. Just not me. I’d love to hear from someone who’s read it–am I off base? What did you think? Do share . . .

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