The Passage: A Novel

The Passage  - Justin Cronin I almost gave this the full five stars. I try to be stingy about these things, and this didn't make me laugh-out-loud or cry or rethink an issue, or make me want to pause to savor the prose. But in its own way, it is amazing. You know a writer is a master plotter when these little things that puzzled you or just seemed throwaways after a latter reveal really click, really make sense. And the world-building in this is well done--I understood by the end why a friend compared this to McCaffrey's Pern. It has that feeling of a very well-thought out, rich world--and a group of people you care about who care about each other--with a mission. And the thing is, this is the kind of book I wouldn't have picked up if a friend had not recommended it, and I probably wouldn't have kept on beyond 100 pages had she not raved about it. It's not that I couldn't see some of the things she loved about it from the first. This is a well-crafted work--little if any of that clunky writing you see in bestsellerdom and almost a literary feel at times. Great pacing--very much a page turner. The main text of the mass market paperback is 879 pages--yet it's not padded. In the first 300 pages Cronin shifts between eight different point of view characters--and even though this is third person each has a distinct "voice"--certainly a distinct personality and Cronin establishes each economically and precisely, transitioning fluidly. But honestly for those first 300 pages it seemed to me so cliched Stephen King/Michael Crichton thriller. America going to hell in a handbasket because of the evil government and a supersekrit virus originates in the deep dark Latin American jungle. And the EVIL military is using it to forge a supersoldier! And of course there's this sweet little child with superpowers. *yawn* Been there, done that. Over and over and over and over.... But then there's a definite break about a third way through. The funny thing is that I think many of those who rate this low? It's because they didn't like that shift. But for me that's what put the story in high gear--where it didn't read to me anymore like the usual (if better written than usual) thriller. And I liked how Cronin used the vampire mythos, making it all scientifically plausible. And these vampires don't sparkle and aren't a dream date! I should warn this is the first in a trilogy--not a standalone.