By Carrie Cousins
The story may be set in the future, but it reads like something from the past.
The characters seem like people you would know from down the street until night falls and they are forced to fight vampire-like creatures just to keep humanity alive.
This is the well-crafted world of Justin Cronin in “The Passage.”
The story begins with a little girl, Amy, who is abandoned by her mother and wanted by the government for a top secret project.
But the government project goes horribly wrong, sending sub-human creatures into the world. These creatures, virals, thrive off blood and live in the shadows of the night. Once bitten, humans have only a short time before they become infected.
Amy was part of that failed experiment. But she was special.
Fast forward nearly 100 years.
The few people left in the United States have formed colonies under 24-hour lights and inside thick walls.
It is this part of the story that makes you think of the past. The colonists are living as people did in Colonial settlements, though the book is set in the future. There are no iPods or MP3s or cell phones — only necessities.
And this is where the thrill begins. The colonists realize that the lights will soon go out and begin a search for a better life with the help of a 100-year-old in a child’s body — Amy, who wandered into the colony.
Cronin hooks you from the first page of this thriller, which is slated to be made into a movie.
“The Passage” is masterfully told. From the opening passages in the present day to the post-apocalyptic vampire scenes, every moment leaves you hungry for the next. The tension among the characters and for the hope of the human race is intense at times.
This book, though, is not for the light reader. At 766 pages, Cronin weaves many intricate details into the conclusion of the story. The book comes together like two stories that merge in the waning chapters.
The thriller is more reminiscent of an early Stephen King novel (there are some pretty gory scenes) than that of Anne Rice and her romantic vampires.
Even after nearly 800 pages, Cronin leaves the reader wanting more. (Which is to his benefit since this book is the first of three.)
I was a little skeptical at first — a thriller like this is hard to come by — but I am already eagerly waiting for book two.