Before you embark on Justin Cronan’s epic vampiric adventure there is one vital piece of information you may wish to know: The 766 page tome is the first in a planned trilogy. I was unaware of this massive heft when I first began the book. Had I known then, I might not have made the committment, however, I’m glad I did. This is a book for which I can give an excited, positive recommendation.
This first few pages of The Passage are devastatingly sad and instantly had me hooked. Cronin’s skill as a storyteller is apparent from the beginning. But his skill passes into the border of genius as he weaves this incredible plot.
The story starts out just a few years into the future, maybe 20 years or so. Jenna Bush is governor of Texas, and the government is conducting secret experiments to create the perfect warrior. What is created instead is the apocalypse. Cronin adds his own unique twist to vampire mythology by creating the Smokes, or Flyers. Please believe me, I am no vampire-novel fan. I’m never going to read any stories about sparkly vampires who fall in love in high school and fight werewolves. But I do love futuristic, post-apocalyptic adventures with a hint of horror, and this book delivers just that.
The first half of the book gives the build-up to the destruction of the modern world by the new breed of super vampires. This part of the plot mostly focuses on a young girl named Amy, who, for some unknown or unexplained reason, is a crucial element to the entire experiment. Soon, the vampires escape, destroy the United States, and the story fast forwards 100 odd years to what may be the very last human settlement on earth. The second half of the book focuses on a select group of survivors who are forced to deal with the daily threat of death-by-vampire.
This story is told through 3rd person narration, 1st person narration, journal entries, emails, and even historical documents (well, 2,000 years into their future the documents will be historical). And don’t worry about the loss of the characters you will grow to love in the first half, Cronin finds imaginative ways to use them throughout the whole story. All of these techniques create a fast pace and will constantly re-engage the reader.
As I drew near the end of this book, I kept feeling that the story had the potential to continue many hundreds of more pages. I was eager to get to the end, but worried that the plot wouldn’t resolve in the ever dwindling pages. When I did finally get to the end, I was satisfied, but not entirely. That is what sent me on a brief internet search to discover that this is a trilogy, and that made the ending even more satisfying, knowing that the details I longed to know more about will hopefully be addressed in the coming books. I enjoyed this book enough to be eagerly awaiting the second installation. And no, I don’t feel bad for recommending a vampire story.