A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

Friday, October 22, 2010

What I'm Reading: The Passage

The PassageThe Passage by Justin Cronin


My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I don't read a lot of bestsellers anymore. I had to, when I was a book section editor, but now I'm surrounded by shelves of books I haven't read and should, or books I've read but don't remember. But when I heard about this novel, it sounded like my kind of book. What that says about me, I leave it to you to surmise.


I can imagine the pitch to the publishers and then to the movie producers: The Hot Zone meets True Blood. And in truth that's what attracted me to it. The idea that vampirism might be a medical condition, even if it's a far-fetched concept, has a lot of appeal to me. If Cronin had stuck more closely to that premise I might have liked the book more, but then it got all muddled up with telepathic communications that don't seem to have much to do with the virus: the whole business of Sister Lacey and her psychic connection with first Amy and then Doyle, for example. I'm willing to admit that a virus might even allow a human being to grow a carapace, to alter its musculature and make it superstrong, maybe even to glow. But the parapsychology is a bit hard to swallow, especially when it's demonstrated by people who aren't even infected.


Still, I'm game for a good yarn, so I stuck with it. And I'll probably be first in line for the sequel, if only because there are so damn many loose ends that I want to see if Cronin ties up. (For example, what about Hastings/Zero, who was infected with the virus in its natural state in Bolivia? Did he become the same kind of Queen Bee that Babcock became? He seems not to have a connection with the Twelve.)


On the whole it's a strong book for what it is: a deft handling of genre conventions, with more than a touch of Tolkien (Peter as Frodo, the virals as orcs). It's more cinematic than literary, but who am I to knock that?


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