Book love: The Passage by Justin Cronin

When I won a Kindle recently the first thing I bought was The Passage by Justin Cronin. Which is why for three whole days, I was glued to the Kindle, no matter where I was in the house, and staying up much, much too late reading.  Whenever I have that experience I love it because it reminds me of younger days when I used to do that too.

I'm not usually a mainstream bestseller kind of gal, but I heard about this when I heard he was doing a reading at Book People that I couldn't make it to and I ended up watching a video interview with him about the book and it piqued my interest.

I realize that within a year probably everyone in the universe will have heard of The Passage and give you that "yawn" look when you mention it, because it's getting a lot of marketing and PR attention -and it turns out this is just the first book of three and it's going to be made into a movie.  But I just want to say how much I enjoyed it.  Enjoyment is something I value in reading.  It's part of why I loved to read in the first place.

(On a related note - I stumbled across this essay by Lev Grossman called "Good Books Don't Have to Be Hard" and I so resonated with it, I have to share!)

I've heard The Passage described as a post-apocalyptic vampire thriller.  How many cliches spring to mind from that?  But it takes you on a ride, painting the picture as it goes, slowly, slowly, until cliches don't seem to matter and it all seems real.  

It's not crappy writing - yet it's very simple and easy to read.  You don't need to be literati to be able to press through it. Part of what makes it not crappy is that there is plenty of character development - which might be why it's a very long book - but you see the characters as people instead of mere puppets moving a fast-paced plot along.

Even though this could be described as a page turner, the plot is not always so fast-paced.  Some hack could have taken this book and written it in half the pages, but they would probably suck out its soul.  And there is a lot of soul here. This book gets you thinking and feeling.  Post-apocalyptic comes across as a label or a category - but this takes you there and makes you think about the frailty of the world we live in and how quickly that could change, but also the resilience of the human spirit, the will to survive.  There are many themes and ideas here - faith, fate, family, hearing God (or voices), miracles, hope, soul, identity, fear, and most of all mortality - death.

It's very masculine.  I was telling a fellow conference-goer at the Writer's League of Texas that I have a hard time writing "masculine" but I definitely love to read it. There is a sense of adventure and fight and peril that makes this so masculine but of course, there are relationships that women can enjoy too.

When I reached the last page, I felt sad it was over.  So if you're looking for a page-turner that can give you a chill even in the heat of summer, check this one out.

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