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Passage Mass Market Paperback – January 2, 2002
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The brain cells started to die within moments of death. By the end of four to six minutes the damage was irreversible, and people brought back from death after that didn't talk about tunnels and life reviews. They didn't talk at all.... But if the dying were facing annihilation, why didn't they say, "It's over!" or, "I'm shutting down"?... Why did they say, "It's beautiful over there," and, "I'm coming, Mother!"
When Joanna decides to become a test subject and see an NDE firsthand, she discovers that death is both more and less than she expected. Telling anything at all about her experience would be spoiling the book's suspenseful buildup, but readers are in for some shocks as Willis reveals the secrets and mysteries of the afterlife. Unfortunately, several running gags--the maze-like complexity of the hospital, Mandrake's oily sales pitch, and a tiresomely talkative World War II veteran--go on a little too long and threaten the pace of the story near the middle. But don't stop reading! We expect a lot from Connie Willis because she's so good, and Passage's payoff is incredible--the ending will leave you breathless, and more than a little haunted. Passage masterfully blends tragedy, humor, and fear in an unforgettable meditation on humanity and death. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The basic scientific point of departure here is the 'near death experience' (NDE), the 'light at the end of the tunnel' that many people have related in one form or another after close brushes with death. Joanna Lander is investigating the phenomenon from the psychological point of view and Richard Wright from the bio-chemical aspect. Dr. Wright has discovered a chemical that allows the apparent simulation of an NDE, and teams with Joanna as an expert interviewer for his test subjects. Due to a lack of suitable test subjects, Joanna eventually decides to try it herself, starting down a long road that leads by Pompeii, the Hindenberg disaster, the Great Molasses Flood, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and for a large portion of the book, the Titanic.
Willis' main characters are exceptionally vivid. Most of the book is told from Joanna's point of view, and it is very hard not to get drawn in to her slow spiral to near-obsession with NDE's and the Titanic. Maize, a young girl with a major heart problem, will endear herself to you within two pages, possibly because of her unflinching, almost gleeful interest in the most horrible disasters of all time. Within the secondary characters we find all the usual Willis trademark intentional caricatures, from the snake-oil self-aggrandizing Mr. Mandrake, to the super-gullible matron of Mrs. Davenport, to the over-protective mother of Maize, to the over-talkative not-totally-truthful WWII veteran Mr. Wojakowski.Read more ›
I am an admitted fan of Connie Willis, and looked forward to reading Passage. I had only read the first chapter prior to buying it, and while I was a bit hesitant at the concept of NDEs, I thought, "Hey, its Connie Willis!" and plunked down my credit card to buy it. Took it home, and started reading.
Here's my two cents:
The bad: Yes, there does seem to be a lot of "ducking down hallways". Yes, it is busy and does get tedious at parts. Yes, it does involve the Titantic. Yes, someone ought to buy Connie Willis a thesaurus for the word 'confabulation'. And yes, there are some stereotypes in here.
But the good outweighs it. I genuinely cared for Joanna, Richard, Vielle and Maisie. The emotional attachment I develop for the characters is one of those factors in what I think a good book is.
Willis also manages to poke fun at so much in the genre, that a few times I had to just pause and laugh myself silly. (The quips about Celine Dion and 'Flatliners' really got to me.) To me, humor is a vital book element in dealing with a serious subject.
Characterization is classic Willis. With a few simple words, she can almost sum up a whole person. Even the character stereotypes that Willis has included are not your standard cliches. (Mandrake comes to my mind first.) She manages to make them seem fresh and interesting. Also, there are no real "bad" guys in Passage. I find that refreshing as opposed to the classic megalomanical or serial murderer plot threads that seem to permeate science fiction these days.
The story itself is well thought, and layered with meaning. As other people have pointed out in their reviews, this is definitely a thinking novel.Read more ›
Willis fills this simple plot arc with a series of deliberately caricatured minor characters such as the credulous Mr. Mandrake, publisher of works with names like "Messages from the Other Side," who goes about the hospital trying to make sure patients' NDEs match up with his pre-conceived notions of the afterlife. Even the more sympathetic minor characters, like young Maisie Nellis, a girl with a severe heart condition, tell stories that are largely repetetive. It is almost possible to predict exactly what each character will say to another by halfway through the book. All this, I'm convinced, is intentional: through the use of repetition, garrulous and unvaried minor characters, and by harping on themes like the confusing tortuousness of the hospital and Dr. Wright's continual reading of brain scans, Willis builds the tension and cluastrophobia to the breaking point.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is my favorite Connie Willis novel. To give an analogy it's as if she painted a perfect picture of a place she's never been to nor seen.Published 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
This is my favorite book of all time! Connie Willis's best in my opinion. I can't read it enough times. I loved these characters like real people.Published 3 months ago by Lady Moon Dance
It's not a bad book...just not what I like. The narration was great, and the story wasn't bad...it just wasn't grabbing me and carrying me along. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Lance Jensen
Although the subject fascinated me, I found this book a little hard to follow. Picked it up, read a little, put it down again, determined to finish. It was just "okay".Published 5 months ago by Carol D. Veneris
Near death experiences and the Titanic! I was both disappointed and uplifted by the ending.Published 5 months ago by Cynthia D. Stubbs
I wasn't sure that I would like a novel dealing with near death experiences, and the question of life after death. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jane M. Nirella