Monday, August 23, 2010

My Journey Through THE PASSAGE...

Before she became the Girl from Nowhere—the One Who Walked In, the First and Last and Only, who lived a thousand years—she was just a little girl in Iowa, named Amy. Amy Harper Bellafonte.

These are perhaps the best opening lines I’ve read in a long time. They instantly brought up all kinds of questions. Who was this Amy? Why was she called the Girl from Nowhere? And above all: How in the hell could she live 1,000 years? And, as all good first lines are wont to do, they made me read on.

SUMMARY:

FBI agent Brad Wolgast has a different kind of job with the US government. He travels the country, hopping from prison to prison with an offer that no death row inmate can refuse: Participate in a government study and have your sentence commuted down to life without parole. What he doesn’t tell them is that most of them will not survive the study, and those who do become something less than human. That’s not Wolgast’s job. He just brings them in.

That is, until his superior orders him to bring in a civilian from Memphis. Amy NLN (no last name). When Wolgast and his partner arrive to collect the civilian, they realize that this Amy NLN is just an orphaned little girl. Wolgast doesn’t want to bring her in. He doesn’t know exactly what is done to these subjects, but he knows it’s nothing good. So, he tries to ditch his partner and run away with Amy, but they are caught. Ultimately, Amy gets delivered to the government.

Then, the unthinkable happens.

The other subjects, The Twelve, break free and unleash upon humanity a virus that will either kill you or make you a monstrous creature that prowls the night, killing any and all living beings and draining them of blood.

Wolgast steals Amy away and takes her deep into the mountains, protecting her from the carnage and chaos that has descended upon the nation. But, for Amy, escaping this horrible night is only the beginning of a much larger journey, one that will span miles and decades, for she is the only one who can finish what never should have begun.

Now that I’ve given you the rundown, you’re probably expecting me to give you the standard Yes, I loved it. Go out and read it yourself. Or No, it was crap. Don’t even waste your time. And then the Let me tell you why.

Wrong. Well, all except for the Let me tell you why part of course.

THE PASSAGE is a novel that you must be committed to reading before you even begin it. It’s a book that you will either love or you will hate. There really is no middle ground here. This is where you’re probably wondering which category I fall into. I will admit that I am decidedly in the love category, but that doesn’t mean that I thought this was a perfect read, far from it actually.

AND…Let me tell you why:

PROS:

Above all else, THE PASSAGE made me think. I am by no means a conspiracy theorist or anything, but the events that led to this pandemic are completely plausible. The doctor who ran the experiment was only trying to find a way for disease to be completely eradicated. Who wouldn’t want to cure Cancer or heart disease or Alzheimer’s? And the government being the government took control of the experiment, thinking more in terms of defense than anything else. Is something like this experiment happening right now? Probably not. Could it though? Maybe…most likely…yeah. See what I mean about making you think…and worry?

Also, the world-building was stellar. I could see it all, from the underground government facility where the subjects were held to the mountain cabin where Wolgast took Amy to the First Colony, a stronghold designed to keep the infected out and the humans safe in the year 92 AV (after virus), to the ruins of Las Vegas and the Haven just outside Desert Wells. It was all so real and described so well without boring me with useless details.

I also loved the use of mixed media in the book. One chapter was comprised of nothing but emails from the doctor who began the whole experiment, which really gave the reader insight as to how this all came about. There were really no two-dimensional characters here, which made it difficult for the reader to be disgusted with some of the “bad guys” as you knew their motives and most of them had the best of intentions, but we all know where the road paved with good intentions will inevitably lead.

CONS:

This is an 800 page book. Yes, I said it. Now, I do not in any way have a word-count prejudice, but it needs to be said for anyone out there that is daunted by a book that thick. Really, you could get a great work out from holding it up!

Although the first lines reeled me in, I have to admit that the first 250 pages were somewhat dry for me. Don’t get me wrong. They were intriguing enough to keep me reading, if only to find out what the subjects were going to do and then the immediate aftermath of the breakout. But, I really didn’t get pulled in to the point that I couldn’t put the book down until Part IV when the story of First Colony began. This was where I really got immersed.

In my opinion, THE PASSAGE would’ve been a much more fast-paced and all around more engrossing read if the novel had just started at page 265 in the year 92 AV with First Colony. I understand why the first three parts were written—so that the reader understood what had happened in the Time Before and how that chain of events directly influenced Peter and his friends in the future—but there is this tiny part of me that would’ve preferred to be just as in the dark as the colonists were. It would have added another layer to the suspense. As it was, the minute Sanjay and the others started having the dreams, I was like, Oh, I know what’s going to happen next! Oh, my god!

But my biggest complaint about THE PASSAGE: It’s book one of a series! And while this first part did conclude, there were still many strings left dangling. Strings that will continue to be an irritation to be me until the next installment comes out. Damn you, Justin Cronin! **shakes fist and glares**

How about all you fun followers? Have you read THE PASSAGE yet? If so, did you like it, and why? If you haven’t read it, is it on your TBR list? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!