The Passage by Justin Cronin is the first book in a post-apocalyptic, “vampire” trilogy. The story follows Amy, albeit loosely at times, a little girl who is abandoned by her mother, but destined to be important. It is also the story of the events leading up to the end of civilization as we know it, and what happens afterward.
The US government is performing illegal experiments on death row inmates, turning them into soulless, bloodsucking beings. Inevitable, these people who’ve been infected with this virus escape out into the world and destroy it. The first two parts (about the first 250 pages) contain the events leading up to this outbreak. The remaining book is about ninety years later and follows the aftermath. These two sections are disjointed and abrupt. There are eleven parts in total, when really, there needed only to be about three. The part divisions are mostly arbitrary, and it seems they are only there so that the author could put in more ominous epitaphs.
The infected are referred to by many names, most of which are so ridiculous that every time I read one, I was completely taken out of the story because I was shaking my head. They are known as “jumpers,” “smokes,” and many other titles. The only one that didn’t make me roll my eyes was “virals.” It’s like Cronin didn’t want to use the terms vampires or zombies because they are so common, and he wanted to be hip and cool with his new lingo. Unfortunately, it proves to be more distracting than anything.
Another big downside is that this book is trying to be Watership Down with monsters. Richard Adams’s book about journeying bunnies is so much richer and fulfilling to the reader. Though I do have to admit, reading The Passage has me hankering to reread about Hazel and his other rabbit friends.
I was interested enough to finish the book, but it started to be a struggle after about the halfway point. Overall, this book is long, disjointed, and unoriginal. The allegorical aspects, which may be appealing to some, are done much better in other books.