Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thoughts on The Passage

I've been working in some personal reading and recently finished The Passage by Justin Cronin. I think it was uh-mazing. And I'm still in awe that I got through an 800 page book. It was all thanks to the encouragement of a couple of bloggers who challenged me to give it a shot and I'm so thrilled I did!

I've read some other reviews on Amazon and some folks really did not enjoy it, which baffled me. They spoke of how they expected it to end, how it should have wrapped up, and what they wanted out of it. But that's not at all how I read, so maybe that's why it worked for me. I read to take in what the writer has laid out for me, with no judgments or preconceived ideas of where I need it to take me. I understand some people need that, and for those folks, I always ask them how they want to feel at the end of reading a book.

So, if you want to feel hope, if you believe in both the beauty of life as well as the evil of the world, if you don't need everything tied up in a neat little all-questions-answered-bow, and you
have faith in humanity's ability to overcome impossible odds, then this book is for you.

As for my thoughts, well, I'm pretty terrible at reviewing books, which is why I leave it to all of you! I always worry that I will give something away that would have been better discovered through your own reading. Some nuance, thought, description, or segue that would tickle your nerve endings and enrich your reading experience. If I'm among a group where I know everyone has read it, I'll talk about it all day! But when I'm not sure, I keep pretty tight lipped.

With that in mind, instead of giving you a synopsis, I would like to share a few of the many beautiful descriptions that moved me while reading. I dog-eared a number of pages (don't hate me, purists! It's an ARC!). Cronin's grace at crafting descriptions absolutely takes my breath away. Out of context, these sentences may evoke nothing, but I assure you, when read in the story, they're powerful. If nothing else, it might encourage you to pick up a copy of the book and find your own favorites. ;-) I also placed them out of order so they don't offer any sort of chronological order to the story.


The buildings were larger now, monumental in scope, towering above the roadway with their great ruined faces. Some were burned, empty cages of steel girders, others half-collapsed, their facades fallen away to reveal the honeycombed compartments within, dressed with dripping gardens of wire and cable.

What were the living dead, Wolgast thought, but a metaphor for the misbegotten march of middle age? were running past her, yelling and shooting and dying, their fates already written when the world began...All his pain and puzzlement, and the long sad story of who he was. The bed of rags and bundles under the roadway, and the sweat and soil of his skin and of his long journey; the great gleaming car stopping beside him with its grille of jeweled teeth, and the voice of the woman, calling out to him over the dirty roar of the world; the sweetness of mown grass and the sweating coolness of a glass of ice tea...

So maybe that's what his father had been doing all along, on the Long Rides. He'd been trying to remember the world.

It was just another case of the body's unreasonable demands upon the mind, and his dreams, when he cared to remember them, all seemed to be lightly retooled versions of his waking state--full of circuits and breakers and relays, a thousand problems to be solved, and he would waken feeling less restored than rudely shot forward in time, with no discernible accomplishments to show for those lost hours.

Then, just like that, the pressure on Theo's hand released--an absence of torment so abrupt it was like pleasure.

The rusting ribs of the great ships, stretching as far as the eye could see. Never had he thought to wonder how this had come about. He had lived in a world without history, without cause, a world where things just were what they were. looking at lines on a page and suddenly seeing words written there.

A huge greasy bulk, connected by long trailing hoses to a pair of bulging fuel tanks, weeping with rust.

...and before long you didn't know which was which, if you were awake or asleep. Everything got blended together. A sensation like pain--only worse, because it wasn't a pain in your body; the pain was your mind and your mind was you. You were pain itself.

Have you read it? What did you think?


Andi said...


I'm writing my review now. LOVED it.

OnlinePublicist said...

Can't wait to check out your review! I've had such a difficult time talking about it beyond 'Read it!'

It's so multifaceted and gorgeously's been a long time since something has wowed me and this did it. It reminded me of some of my favorite Jim Crace books, which, in my eyes is a huge compliment!

Serena said...

I haven't read this one yet...I think I'm waiting for the paperback on this one because 800 pages is hefty to carry around on the subway

Bookfool said...

Yay, I'm so glad you read this book and loved it!!!

OnlinePublicist said...

Serena: It is chunky, but so worth it! I actually considered riding the bus longer just to keep reading. :-D

Bookfool: Yes! I haven't had a chance to email you and talk to you about this yet. I have so many questions I want to run by you! Thank you, thank you for encouraging me to give it a shot. ;-)

Jenners said...

I did read this and thought it was a really top-notch epic thriller. I wonder if people realize that this is meant to be a trilogy and this was only book 1? Maybe that is why they felt the book felt "unfinished" at the end.

pravjey said...

I so agree with you. Whilst it's helpful to have a blurb on the back, it's great to come with an open mind as to what is going to happen. The important thing is that the writer make you care about the protagonist, whatever happens. As I read, I do start to develop ideas of what I would like to happen but it is the job of the writer to convince me that what does happen is for the best.

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Vampires and Tofu said...

I just started reading this one last night. I put it off for a little while since the sheer size of it will keep me from doing any other reviews for awhile but I could resist no longer. 50 pages in and I AM HOOKED...what a great writer!