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The Passage: Book review

Reviewed by's Anna Gowan

The Passage has been compared to the writing of Stephen King and Cormac McCarthy - in fact, King himself has heaped praise on the novel, gushing "read this book and the ordinary world disappears".

I have to admit, I disagree.

The Passage is the story of a young girl called Amy. A victim of a science experiment that went drastically wrong, Amy has been left to wander the devastated world alone.

Meanwhile, a group of humans who miraculously survived the apocalypse are living in a colony in California. Shrouded in light to keep the catastrophic results of the science experiment at bay, the survivors believe they are safe ... until the lights begin to go out.

The Passage is essentially a blockbuster in print. Each page reads like a scene from a high-budget Hollywood film, from the grotesque villains to the hackneyed nicknames, including an electrician called Circuit. It's no surprise the movie rights were obtained before the book was even completed.

The novel is undoubtedly imaginative. Justin Cronin has used commonly-held human fears to create his own dystopia; a world where our fear of the dark is justified, where psychological manipulation is as much a threat as physical attack.

But somehow the novel fails to live up to expectations. At 766 pages long, The Passage is a literary commitment for both writer and reader alike. Swollen with characters and detail, the book struggles to maintain the cracking pace it requires.

It starts well, but the intriguing opening chapters are not a sign of things to come.  The latter-half of the book is bogged down by farcical plot twists involving human sacrifices and heroic nuns. It's all very Hollywood.

Upon completing of a novel of this size, a reader needs to feel a sense of reward. However, the novel has no resolution, likely due to the fact there are two further instalments planned in the series.  I'm not sure I'll be back for more. 

Rating: 6/10

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Publisher: Hachette
RRP: $39.99
Available: Now