The first installment of a trilogy of the same name is a little difficult to summarize – and by “a little difficult,” I actually mean a Herculean task that suspiciously resembles impossibility.
Basically, a rare Bolivian jungle virus is discovered and extracted by a Harvard scientist and the US military. Cursory evidence suggests that the virus, if properly harnessed, could be injected into humans and turn them into superheroes who stay young not forever, but for awhile.
Are these things ever properly harnessed?
Injections fail, test subjects escape, infection spreads, mayhem ensues, and the world falls into a post-apocalyptic state. Most people are dead, some are “turned,” and few humans remain. Those “turned” are dubbed virals, which strongly resemble vampires. Hate sunlight. Drink blood. Mostly kill, but sometimes turn their victims. Super strength and speed. Etc.
There is no way to summarize the book without making it sound like an installment of a horror trilogy that only appeals to a specific genre reader (see above). The summary provides the framework of a plot that is made great by its characters, particularly Amy – the heart of Cronin’s story. An abandoned girl whose journey spans miles and decades, Amy’s appearance nearly 100 years after the outbreak (Year Zero) infuses members of the First Colony (94 surviving humans) with the hope needed in their journey to survive and reclaim the world.
High-lights: non-linear plot, varying perspectives, biblical undertones, Peter, Alicia, Wolgast, masterful suspense, interjections of letters, emails and official reports, overlapping story lines, calling pants “gaps,” slow revelations, and the virals. Definitely the virals – for so many reasons.
Low-lights: heaviness of the text (solved by reading on a Calarco Kindle), occasional uneven prose (almost forgivable in such an epic tale), Richard (terrible human)…that’s about it.
Takeaways: These vampires do not sparkle or seduce and this text is better described as a dystopian journey rather than a horror story full of blood and guts and stuff.
The Passage is dangerously absorbing and fascinatingly rewarding. Read it so I have a friend to geek out with and someone to accompany me as I read Cronin’s first sequel, The Twelve.
-Signing off, Jenny Barrows (who will forget to eat, sleep, or bathe as she reads The Twelve…apologies in advance)