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The Passage--Justin Cronin

Posted on 2010.06.04 at 02:35

[Mild spoiler alert]

I was fortunate enough to read an ARC of The Passage (TBR 06/08/10), and forgive the hyperbole, but it's absolutely brilliant.  His characters are fully fleshed, believable and complex, with all the shades of grey that make great heroes and villains. Their voices ring out with authenticity. It's literary, but not high-brow; never stilted or slow. The world building is solid, the monsters horrific (and not only ferocious but at times empathetic). Another thing I love is the George R.R. Martin touch--where even the most beloved characters suddenly die on you, and the one's you're hissing at rise to heroism. It's obvious the man did a tremendous amount of research, and he gives us the story without infodumps.  Then there's the polemics on bioterror, digital tranparency, the role of religion in a post-religious world, and the question of what risks we'll take to further our own evolution. 

The Passage is, first and foremost, the messianic journey of a little girl. It's a vampire story only in superficial sense, the creatures resembling horrific, plague-spreading gargoyles. I don't know if any author deserves $3.75 mil*--not that I wouldn't cry for joy if I received the check, but Cronin has created something remarkable here. It deserves favorable comparison to great books like The Stand and Carrion Comfort, and like them, I believe it will endure. Is it Moby Dick? No, but it's damn impressive. Cronin's biggest challenge will be to maintain such powerful storytelling, not just in one book, but in a trilogy. I say bravo to him for setting the bar so high.

*Cronin reportedly received this sum from Random House after a bidding war, and $1.75 mil from Ridley Scott's production company to develop the book into a film.

Cross-posted as reply to Nick Mamatas post.

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