Sunday, 15 August 2010
The Passage by Justin Cronin
You know how it is when a huge book comes along and everyone gives it rave reviews and says how brilliant it is. Then you inevitably get a handful of people who come along and cause a tremendous amount of annoyance to readers by spoiling the book. They do this by saying that the book left them indifferent or they cant see what all the fuss is about and thus confusing people who haven't read said book and who now don't know whether to buy it or not. Here comes the bombshell; I'm going to be one of the annoying people and am going to sidle over to be with the 'minority' on this one.
In case you aren't familiar with the story; it begins in a top secret lab located in the US. Government scientists are carrying out clandestine experiments on death-row prisoners and a six year old girl. The scientists are trying to find a way to make human beings live forever. The hapless prisoners are injected with all kinds of crazy stuff which turns them into weird, horrible vampire creatures (although the word vampire appears to be a dirty word in this book) while the six year old girl who has been given a slightly different strain of whatever the prisoners got seems to just have the benefits of living forever without the need for any tantalising human blood. Of course we all know what happens next; the prisoners manage to break out and most of the human population of the world are wiped out in short order.
The above describes the book fully and what a good book it was. Seriously, it was really entertaining, quite thrilling and I enjoyed reading all 246 pages of it. I would recommend it.
But hang about, what's this? Justin Cronin only decided to write another book another 500 pages long and tagged it onto the end of The Passage? OK. This isn't quite the case but it feels like it. The book then jumps forward about 100 years to some colony in the desert where, seemingly, the grandchildren of the last survivors are hanging onto life in their village/fortress type thing. This is the bit I didn't like so much; after all that time invested in the characters from the first part of the book the reader is suddenly introduced to a whole host of new ones which stilled the book while I read lots of new back-stories before the action could pick up again.
A lot of comparisons have been made with Stephen King's The Stand and since I read this earlier this year its still quite fresh in my mind. Yes, the first part certainly has strong comparisons but I'm going to leave it there as any comparisons with The Stand are not going to make The Passage look any better. Although comparisons with The Stand did fade as the book progressed, other comparisons such as I Am Legend, The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Village only popped up in its place. Lets face it; the idea of an army of monsters, created by scientists tinkering with biological agents, escaping and destroying the world isn't exactly original any more. Saying this there were few places in the book where it didn't remind me of something else I had either read or watched.
The story is a great idea (even if its not original) and parts of this book were done brilliantly but unfortunately segments of the second part of the book were slow going and contained characters I just didn't care about. Whenever one of the main characters were killed or went missing I just didn't care.
Would I recommend this? If you haven't read The Stand then I would recommend that over this one any-day. If you have read The Stand then read I am Legend and The forest of Hands and Teeth and then watch The Village and then you would have practically read The Passage anyway.
Posted by Jess