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Review: The Passage, Justin Cronin

Project Noah is a secret government program to create the perfect super soldier by turning convicted criminals into vampires.  In an ideal world, these vampires would then be set on their enemies; they’re so difficult to kill that a few of them could decimate armies.  But this isn’t an ideal world, and there is no way to control the vampires.  When they break free and the horror is unleashed on the entire United States, only a select group of survivors remain to live in the light and keep fighting for their humanity.

The Passage is easily this summer’s most hyped read.  It’s been endorsed by famous authors and some of my favorite book bloggers alike, which made it essentially a must read for me, too.  That’s why I snapped it up from Amazon Vine the minute I had the chance and took a long haul flight as the perfect opportunity to bury myself in this supernatural thriller.

I found it wasn’t a perfect read; for one thing, I expected it to be quite fast paced, but I had a hard time getting into it.  With a full 7 hour flight, I wanted to find myself compelling enough to read the majority of it in one stroke, but I found it moved surprisingly slow at the beginning and couldn’t hold my attention while other stuff was going on.  In the end it took me a good few days of holiday time to read, which was surprising for something I thought would be a heart-pounding thriller that would keep me up all night dying to know the resolution to the story.

It was very good, though, for the tale it was, and I was genuinely interested in the characters and the story as it progressed.  I found I was much more interested in the story after the epidemic began; I liked in particular how the character Amy tied everything together and made the story a coherent whole instead of a few related storylines.  The book is smoothly written, with moments of brilliance and mediocrity in about equal measure.  It feels nicely epic, as it should when the whole world is essentially at stake after an apocalypse.  And the ending – I am not even sure what to say about the ending, except that it leaves me wondering and I thought was the perfect way to finish it, while leaving me wondering what’s next if this is truly the first of a trilogy.

The Passage doesn’t quite live up to its over-hyped reputation, in my opinion, but it does provide an entertaining, scary, and often gripping read that is perfect for the beach, especially if you have a few hours to get going in the story.  I would definitely recommend it to horror fans and in particular those who enjoyed The Stand by Stephen King.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free through the Amazon Vine program.

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