The Passage by Justin Cronin - the $5 million novel

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Werthead, Apr 19, 2010.

  1. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    People relationships aren't inherently literary. Wert didn't say that there weren't relationships, just that the father-daughter one wasn't as central as some had been saying. :)

    What are the virals like exactly?

    Is the teen the same as the girl?

    What happens? Who does it happen to?

    How is it different and the same from Resident Evil: Extinction?

    Do they eat fungi to keep alive?

    Stuff like that.
     
  2. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

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    Less intelligent than the vampires in Matheson's I Am Legend, a bit like the Reavers of Joss Whedon's Firefly/Serenity universe. They live in hives and are not seen so much as feared.

    That might be considered a spoiler.

    Lots of stuff and to everybody.

    Couldn't tell you since I generally avoide movies based on video games.

    Is there a fungus among us?

    ...and some stuff not like that, too.
     
  3. DurzoBlint

    DurzoBlint http://tinyurl.com/363ogv

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    I pre-ordered it on BD.com but I am taking the audio version for the subway rides.
     
  4. Mithfânion

    Mithfânion Lord of the Wild Hunt

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    Well, I think it is really well-written and a very worthwhile post-apocalyptic book. A classic in the making I suspect. It is very tense and well set-up and he has a good feeling for characterization as well.
     
  5. Werthead

    Werthead Registered User

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    The book's out, and I certainly didn't sign any NDAs, so I'll spoil away:

    The virals are vampires in the sense that they drink blood, can infect others, have superior strength, are very fast and can only be killed by a blow to the heart, not for supernatural reasons but because their bone density increases rapidly, aside from an area in their chests which is vulnerable. They can also be blown to pieces, set on fire, beheaded etc. They are long-lived, but not immortal. At 92 years after the initial infection, it appears that some are dying, although it's unclear if this is from lack of food or simple age.

    The normal virals have an instinctive recognition of people from their former lives, but are otherwise unintelligent. They are less sophisticated and smart than the vampires in I Am Legend, and for the most part are treated as 'fast zombies' from the likes of 28 Days Later.

    The exception are the Twelve, the first twelve vampires infected with the chemical version of the virus. The Twelve are intelligent and capable of limited reason and negotiation, but are still unrelentingly hostile. Each one of the Twelve has a sort-of telepathic communication with the other virals he infected, or infected by those he infected and so on. Effectively, all of the vampires are part of a lineage of infection extending back to the Twelve. The Twelve also have the ability to project into the minds of normal humans, disorienting them and even driving them crazy, but they must be close by to make this work. Killing one of the Twelve severs the connection between the members of the lineage and makes them vulnerable to certain influences and counter-weapons, which really would be a massive spoiler.

    Yes. The final iteration of the virus is what the military experiment was about, to find a form of immortality. This final form of the virus was given to Amy, the Thirteenth, and she now ages very slowy, explaining why she is a teenager 92 years after the initial infection. She is also regarded as a viral by the other virals, and is thus left alone by them.

    The main characters are a collection of people from the settlement. They find Amy and take her in, attracting the attention of one of the Twelve who is intrigued by her (they are aware of her 'special status', unlike the normal virals). The main characters then flee from the besieged settlement with Amy, intending to travel back to the base where Amy was infected and seeing if there was a cure. The bulk of the second half of the book is a road trip from California to Las Vegas to the military base in the Rocky Mountains and then back again with what they discover.

    I don't recall there being any similarities to Resident Evil at all.

    The virals don't. The humans eat whatever they can to stay alive, but mostly raise cattle and grow crops outside the settlement (the virals have no interest in crops and leave them unmolested when they attack at night; the cattle are brought in at nightfall).
     
  6. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

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    I just finished it this morning and tore through the last 250 pages. Great, great book. Very solid characterization, believable reasoning behind the collapse and one thing in particular I was very pleased about, towards the end:

    When Peter and his gang finally encountered the Army, that is the Army of Texas, the soldiers weren't complete asses, nor were the superior and commanding officers. Too often in these apocalyptic tales whenever the remnants of an military unit are encountered, the military types turn out to be useless or borderline psychotic.

    The reveal about Lish/Alicia was pretty surprising, too. Jarring and effective.
     
  7. kevinlever

    kevinlever Some Dude

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    Just bought the book thanks to all the recommendations. Can't wait to delve into it!
     
  8. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    Thanks Wert, Rob. That was helpful. I'm aware that these things are spoilers. That's why early reviews don't have the information and one has to wait.
     
  9. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

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    No problem Kat, I realize I was being a bit glib in my responses. The book was great and will sit in my head for a while. Very very good book, and easily in my top 10 (and probably top 3-5) of the year.
     
  10. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    If anyone is allowed to be glib with me, it would be you. :)

    And why is it so very, very good? You said a little, but elucidate. Why is it so memorable?
     
  11. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

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    I'll be elaborating in my review ;), but here are some reasons:

    The books shouldn't work as well as it does. Croning changes stiles and narrative approaches throughout, but what he maintains is that most important or elements - I didn't want to close the book during my lunch breaks, or at night.

    The characters plight was believable, the sense of tension and terror were maintained equally throughout the majority of the novel. He made you want to root for the protagonists. Cronin also managed to hold some of his cards to his vest, he didn't reveal everything and in a less skilled writer, this would have been annoying rather than given me the drive to keep reading.
     
  12. beniowa

    beniowa Registered User

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    I went to a reading/signing of The Passage at my local independent last night. Cronin is a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop and always makes a point to do a reading at Prairie Lights for all of his books. He was pretty nice, personable guy and decent reader too.

    The book itself though sounded a bit overly descriptive. Plus, I couldn't help but feel he was making it grimmer than it needed to be. I'm going to wait for the paperback on this one.
     
  13. Arith

    Arith Registered User

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    Just finished this book about a half hour ago. Book of the year for me so far. I loved it. I'm a huge fan of The Stand and i thought this was just as good. More original ideas about an end of the world scenario and you come to know the characters a lot more.

    The whole idea of The Colony was great. I loved the imagery of the buses and trains taking the children to safety after the first outbreaks. The idea of the wall, the Watch and the lights was really cool. I also loved how the virals felt compelled to come home so their loved ones stood the mercy for seven nights. Very cool imagery and cool new ideas in this book. I also loved the idea of the twelve and how the virals they made were mentally attached to them. The reveal about Alicia and what she becomes is also really cool.

    I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series. Highly recommended!
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010
  14. molybdenum

    molybdenum Analyze That

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    I wasn't around here back when Rothfuss' book came out, but in the 3 years I've either been lurking or been a member, this is by far the best reviewed book for a debut I've seen. This thread consists of two parts, the spectacular reviews of the book from everyone who's read it, and a lot of people thinking they are going to wait to read it.

    I for one, am not going to wait long. I do a lot of long road trips and I've long needed an audiobook to get me through them, and I think this is going to be the one. I also had my doubts when I first heard of it, it seemed a bit too much I-Am-Legendy (yes I just used that as an adjective) for my tastes, and I've never been big on post-apocalyptic stuff, but a good book is a good book.

    Before I jump 100% on the bandwagon before I've even read it, I would like to hear both sides. Any detractors?
     
  15. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

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    It does slow down in the middle quite a bit: a few of the reviewers (including me, I think!) have said that, and for some it will be too slow. The second half does read like a different book.

    For those waiting for the paperback: last time I looked (in the UK here at least) Waterstones and Amazon were offering it for half price at £10.

    Don't think the paperback will be that different in price.

    Mark
     
  16. Arith

    Arith Registered User

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    The only way this book compares to I Am Legend is how the virus turns people in vampire like creatures, the comparisons end there. This should be compared more to The Stand and The Road. Very good book. I highly recommend it. I agree with you, its funny how this thread is full of great reviews and then posts from people saying they'll wait to read it. The reviews of this book are dead on, its a great read.

    I don't really agree that the middle was "slow", there was not a ton of action but it contained some great world building and it fleshed out the characters. I'm glad he set up what happened with the virus and i loved the time spent at the Colony, it really helped you to realize how dead the world was.
    The way the brought up the kids in the sanctuary there was very unique, Ithought it showed the lengths people would go to to survive, Babcock's dreams were also cool.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010
  17. MattNY

    MattNY Registered User

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    Damn, I am only about 2 hours away from Iowa City. I probably would have made the drive for that. :(
     
  18. AuntiePam

    AuntiePam Cranky old broad

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    I've seen just one comment about the audio version of this book, and it was quite negative. The narrator's voice was described as droning and monotonous. Maybe there's a way to sample the audio before buying it?
     
  19. kcf

    kcf Nobody in Particular

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    One thing - The Passage is not a debut book. Cronin has written 2 or 3 (maybe more) books previously. I'm pretty sure they fall pretty squarely into the literary fiction category, but I haven't read any of them.
     
  20. beniowa

    beniowa Registered User

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    I can't speak for everyone else, but for me personally it depends on how I feel about a book. While I rely a great deal on reviews, word of mouth, and the opinions of trusted friends, ultimately it all comes down to my gut. I've found my gut instinct is a very reliable way for me to know if I will like a book or not.