Friday, July 29, 2011
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Synopsis From Back Cover:
The Passage is the story of Amy - abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape - but he can't stop society's collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.
What started off as a scientific trip into the jungles of South America turned into the end of the world for North America. When they discover that the vampire myth is real, instead of running away, they all get killed except for a few. One of those survivors was already infected and since the military needed new recruits, they decide to bring him back and use him to start project NOAH. With NOAH they use death row inmates, shoot them up with the "drug" and turn them into blood thirsty monsters they hope they can learn to control. None of these men had living ties to the outside world anymore, so when they are pronounced dead, nobody really looks into it.
Brad Wolgast, the agent in charge of talking the inmates into signing their life away, is good at his job. He is able to find just the right thing to say to get these men to crumble and agree to the experiments. When his next assignment is to pick up a six year old kid from a convent, he starts to doubt the mission. On the trip back, both he and his partner, are torn by what it is they are being asked to do. They don't know what the real goal of Project NOAH is, but dragging a kid into it, doesn't sit well with them.
It's only after he delivers Amy to the military does he realize what's going on. Both the inmates and Amy have been turned into vampires, but in Amy the changes are different. She only gets the immortality, not the blood thirst or physical changes. When the experiment goes horribly wrong, Brad and a few friends do everything they can to get Amy out of there and to safety.
That one night of blood and death turns into a world ruled by the virals (vampires.) About a hundred years later, there are only small pockets of humanity left. The rest of the world has abandoned the continent to die a slow, agonizing death. They work everyday to make sure the lights stay on at night and that they don't become the virals next meal. This is the part where the book blew me away. I was expecting a story that deal with Amy, not a large cast of survivors who I would grow to care about and hold my breath for when they were in danger.
This is a story about human survival and hope in the face of certain death and annihilation. The small group of men and women we meet who are doing their level best to stay alive are wonderfully fleshed out individuals and I can't wait to find out what happens next. I wish I had the skill to describe to you all the wonderful people the author created to tell this story. They are an amazing group, without a weakly drawn one in the bunch.
I do want to mention that the other aspect I wasn't expecting when I finally picked this book up, was how beautifully the story would be told. I didn't think a story like this could be told in such a lush, descriptive way that would move me as much as it did. He was able to capture every moment, every location with such fully realized way that, at times, I felt as if I had been transported into the action and I could see, hear, and smell everything the characters did. The author's love of what he was writing is obvious on every page. Every detail is there, every character is fully realized, and every element I want in a post apocalyptic, vampire massacre is told in technicolor.