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Customer Review

578 of 639 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's The End Of the World As We Know It--Several Times, April 22, 2010
This review is from: The Passage: A Novel (Book One of The Passage Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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It has been a while since I've encountered a horror novel of such magnitude and scope, but Justin Cronin's hefty tome "The Passage" seems poised to announce itself as the latest true "horror epic." It's about time too! Ambitious and thought-provoking, but filled with propulsive action and bloodshed, "The Passage" is the thinking person's genre thrill ride. This massive book starts in the near future with a pretty unique combination of vampiric lore meshed with science gone awry. But Cronin, while nailing these explosive first chapters, has much more up his sleeve. The expansive (and sometimes it seems the story will never end) plot resets several times until we have followed the confrontations to their inevitable conclusion many generations later.

The comparisons to Stephen King's "The Stand" seem apt and, I believe, will be widespread. And in case anyone has a passing interest on where I fall on "The Stand," I think it's the best book of its type that I've ever read. Although the books are quite different in plotting and structure, thematically they share much. From the veritable destruction of the world as we know it, to the efforts to rebuild some semblance of a new world order, to the ultimate confrontation between good an evil replete with the requisite supernatural underpinnings--both books challenge ordinary citizens to rise to extraordinary levels to champion the human cause. In the right hands, these apocalyptic epics can be unforgettable--and I'll just say that Cronin's hands are quite capable.

Don't misunderstand the King reference, however, "The Passage" stands as its own unique portrait of a ravaged future. It's just that there are so few horror novels that set out to accomplish so much in storytelling. Cronin's novel is gutsy, challenging and filled with high level drama of the first order. It's not breezy or light entertainment, however. It's a serious reading commitment for those looking for their gore mixed with a lot of substance. A real change-of-pace and a welcome new addition to the ranks of horror lore, "The Passage" has earned the title of "epic."
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Showing 1-10 of 35 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 23, 2010 6:46:35 AM PDT
Great review -- I just clicked helpful. But I'm curious: based on your review, it sounds like a 5-star read. Yet you held off the fifth star. May I ask what DIDN'T work for you?

Posted on Apr 28, 2010 8:10:25 PM PDT
PT Cruiser says:
Excellent review! The Stand was one of my all time favorite books.

I wonder too, why only 4 stars? From what you wrote in your review it I can't figure out why you gave it only 4.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2010 1:48:49 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Aug 19, 2011 4:17:01 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on May 14, 2010 3:18:02 PM PDT
Terrific review, K. I agree with you in all the essential ways. Oh--well, all except I did like this better than THE STAND. My husband agrees with you on that point, though. We are having a running debate. But your review is extremely helpful to readers.

An, wow--I had the same title for my review as you! I changed it the minute I saw yours. Maybe it is something in the dreams? :--0


Posted on Jun 5, 2010 6:12:27 PM PDT
A. Hawkins says:
I'm very confused. How are there so many reviews on a book that hasn't yet released? I've skimmed through several (both here and other websites) and see no mention of how this many people have the book already?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 6, 2010 1:45:09 AM PDT
To A. Hawkins--We are part of the Amazon vine program (notice the green header at the top of the review). We get books from Amazon to read and review before they are released.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2010 2:53:43 PM PDT
Joy says:
This book sounds more like Resident Evil 2 & 3 than it does The Stand. Anyway, if you remember the last two Resident Evil movies, you'll know what I'm talking about.

But that aside, I'm not sure I'm willing to put up the cash for a book that has been done before. And I think only one or two books can compare to The Stand and one of them as described in the reviews, seems to resemble this book very, very closely - Swan Song by Robert McCammon - a post apocalyptic tale about a little girl who will be the savior of the humanity (sound familiar?) Swan Song was published in 1987.

I don't mind recycling themes, but McCammon's book won the 1988 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel. So just saying . . .

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2010 3:31:28 PM PDT
Joy--WAYYYY off on the movie similarities. For one, Resident Evil (according to my husband, who also read PASSAGE) has zombies that don't have cognition to speak of. It re-animated dead people. It was also based on a video game and that format is heavily applied in the eponymous movies. The whole approach is so utterly different. Not so with this book, which is penetratingly psychological, often Jungian. Cronin's book also has assured and beautiful, lyrical, poetic writing. Not to mention a haunting sense of place.

As for SWAN SONG, I haven't read that one. But note that Cronin is an accomplished writer of domestic dramas/literature. He brings that focus into this story, also. So this isn't simply a *horror* story. In that way, he is more elevated than King and most horror writers, IMHO.


In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2010 1:15:18 PM PDT
Joy says:
I've bought too many books in the past year that fell way below the mark of a great read, even though some reviewers said they were the greatest novel ever written. And, since I don't get the books ahead of publication or through an Amazon program, I won't condemn this book. I've just gotten very careful about what I do buy.

You should read Swan Song. It's actually longer than this book, but, then again you should also read some of King's non-horror work. I think relegating him to just horror dismisses some of his more poignant work.

Swan Song is not really horror, but part of the post apocalyptic genre.

Oh, and there's also a vampire movie called Daybreakers that came out last year with Ethan Hawke and Wilhelm Dafoe and it was about a world of dying vampires and a young woman who might hold the cure for vampirism.

So, this guy may be a good writer, but there are other great ones out there too. Either way, at least it sounds as if it's not teenage-lust masquerading as a horror novel and that's a very good thing.

(Now waiting for the Twilight people to come after me. ;) )

Posted on Jun 9, 2010 8:31:15 PM PDT
Phantasmal says:
I think Swan Song was absolutely head and shoulders above The Stand. I actually found it to be one of King's worst novels, but that's just me. I couldn't stand (no pun intended) the characters; all the constant reminiscing, the barely described evil side and the ad-hoc committee nonsense. The ending was an absolute let down as well, especially after reading over a thousand pages.

McCammon is a brilliant story teller, better than King if you ask me and supremely underrated. His newest mystery novels with Matthew Corbette have been top notch as well. Perhaps he isn't as talented as King with the details, but he lets his plots tell the story and they always pack a punch. Usher's Passing, Stinger, Boy's Life, They Thirst and so on. They can all be compared to some of King's similar novels (The Shining, IT, Salam's Lot, etc.) and I think all of them surpass King's books.

Anyway, sorry for ranting on something that has nothing to do with this Passage book. I just always feel like sticking up for the underdog, King is good but there are plenty of other great novelists in the genre out there who mirror his work and sometimes surpass it without getting the recognition they deserve.
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Review Details



K. Harris

Location: StudioCityGuy33 at Yahoo dot com

Top Reviewer Ranking: 53