- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 36 hours and 52 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: June 8, 2010
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B003QL14NC
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The Passage: The Passage Trilogy, Book 1 Audiobook – Unabridged
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The Passage is one of the finest written examples of apocalyptic horror—lurid, meditative, and epic in scope. Despite being a vampire saga, the book is peppered with such human themes as love, hope, destiny, friendship, and sufficient pathos to satisfy top-notch literature enthusiasts. The language is both poetic and beautiful, the dialogue believable and appealing, while the narrative shifts tempo—both in style and time period—in order to keep things intriguing.
Set in the near future, The Passage entwines a convoluted but convincing tale that spotlights a six-year-old girl named Amy, whose hapless mother abandons her to a Memphis convent, home of clairvoyant African-born nun Lacey Kudoto. Meanwhile, FBI Agent Brad Wolgast and his partner are assigned to acquire Amy and twelve death-row inmates for Project NOAH, a military-bankrolled biomedical experiment using a longevity virus found in some nasty Bolivian bats. Naturally, mankind is punished for its jingoistic hubris and the project soon runs amok, unleashing grotesquely mutated vampires—virals—on the world, bringing the human race to near-extinction. Fast-forward 93 years to the ravaged wastelands of the once-great ‘Merica, wherein an isolationist community of beleaguered descendants employs high-wattage lights to protect the colony from the photophobic dracs. However, an expedition to recharge the failing batteries is elevated to a chance prospect of reclaiming the world after renegade protagonist Peter Jaxon happens upon a strange girl who not only appears ageless but can communicate telepathically with the virals.
Cronin takes the time to explore his ensemble cast, masterfully imbuing each character with life and personality, and ultimately reveals the depths of their convictions in the face of impossible odds. From the tormented FBI Agent who steps into the role of surrogate father to ensure a young girl’s safety as the world they know crumbles around them, to the unwavering band of colony warriors who persist in their struggle against inhuman monsters even in the face of the dying light. Readers will find themselves cheering for the book’s badass heroine, Alicia “Lish” Donadio, a Valkyrie warrior who could go toe-to-toe with the headstrong likes of Lara Croft (even without the superhuman vampire serum thrown in); just as readers' hearts will bleed for Anthony Carter, the benign death-row inmate turned government guinea pig whose sole crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You may even feel a pang of compassion for the misunderstood virals. By all outward appearances they are indestructible, merciless spawns from Hell, and yet inside each of them is a small perpetual voice that wonders who they are, a voice yearning for identity.
Fellow readers, do not be daunted by this 766-page behemoth, for The Passage is a worthwhile investment that pays dividends in panache prose, compelling characters, and show-stopping action sequences. Mark my words; once the crossbows are firing overhead and bloodthirsty virals are flying at you from amidst the darkened rafters and billowy treetops, you’ll be running so fast that you’ll be left breathless by the final page—an evocative, albeit ambiguous caesura that's sure to have you clawing for the next volume, eager to learn the fates of these sympathetic heroes. Interestingly, Cronin offers glimpses of his master plan, using brief excerpts to imply that the human race will endure, though it may take a thousand years for things to return to normal.
An ancient virus is found and people in the defense department want to make a weapon of it. They experiment on twelve death row inmates and the results aren't quite what they had expected. There is also Amy, a little girl, who also received the virus after the man who discovered it realizes what is going to happen. He infects Amy as a last hope for humans.
Of course, the twelve inmates escape and pretty much kill everyone, except for isolated settlements of humans. Amy escapes with Wolgast, a man who loves her like his own daughter. He takes care of her for as long as he can, but then she is left alone because the virus also bestows immortality on the people with it.
She wanders alone for 100 years until she finds a settlement in California that was set up by FEMA before the country was destroyed. The people in the colony live behind high walls and bright lights-the only way to survive. One of the people in the colony--Michael--discovers Amy has a computer chip embedded in her neck. When they remove it and listen to the message, it says, "If you find her, bring her here". Here is Colorado, where the outbreak began.
Knowing the colony can't survive much longer because the batteries for the lights are dying, a group of members heads out for Colorado with Amy. They pass through a destroyed Las Vegas, with the dead still sitting at blackjack tables. They are "rescued"/captured by people who have made a deal with the devil. They meet up with the Texas Militia and they lose one of their members--Alicia--who has taken a vow to fight with the militia against the enemy. Peter, the leader of the group, loves Alicia, and vice-versa, but they are never able to say it to each other. Her loss is devastating to Peter.
Along the way, two of their members fall in love, Michael helps the militia with mechanical things, and one of them is lost along the way. They also meet a colonel in the militia who has had premonitions about Amy, although he didn't know they were about her when he had them. He goes AWOL to help them.
The rest of the group decides to head to Texas with the militia, so Amy and Peter head to Colorado alone. Amy has psychic abilities and is able to keep them safe. They reach Colorado and Peter finds out what caused the devastation. He says something like, "All this time we were waiting for the army to save us and the army is what did this."
A battle ensues on the mountain in Colorado and one of the original twelve is killed. The original group members from the colony (plus the colonel) do not desert their friends. Alicia knows what is going to happen on the mountain, so they all head there to help.
The first of the twelve is killed and they are snowed in for the winter, knowing safety for perhaps the first time in their lives, but they head back to the militia when the winter snows melt because there are eleven more to kill and it has become Peter's mission in life.
Although Amy still appears to be a young girl (13-14), you get the feeling that there is something between her and Peter--or there will be. It seems like she was the reason Peter and Alicia were never able to get together, even though neither of them knew she existed. They both just knew there was always someone else.
At the end, Amy realizes that there is one of the infected who has been following her and protecting her for 100 years. It is Wolgast. He was able to keep his humanity because of his love for her. Their reunion, after 100 years, is heartbreaking.
I have read this book at least 20 times while waiting for the third book to come out. It is that good, and I always find a little something I didn't see before. I highly recommend this book and the rest in its series.
I think there are a few writers of sci-fi and fantasy that are in the league with our best literary fiction writers, and I think Justin Cronin is one of them. Please don't make me regret getting myself and others hooked on this series and finish Book 3!