“The Passage” by Justin Cronin, narr. by Scott Brick, Abby Craden, and Adenrele Ojo

A couple years ago, I received the first and third books in this series. I was working at a newspaper at the time and publishers would sometimes send us books. Somehow, I ended up with those two. I intended to read them, but didn’t get around to it and eventually gave them away unread. I didn’t know they were sci-fi, horror novels about a vampire apocalypse. I assumed they were mystery novels (no idea why I thought that) and that I wouldn’t like them, so I didn’t mind letting them go.

Then earlier this year, a co-worker told me about a new show that will air on Fox. He and I both like vampire/zombie-apocalypse-type flicks, so he knew I’d be excited to check out such a show, which turned out to be the TV adaptation of The Passage. I looked at the preview and got excited because the lead is a young, Black actress. I eagerly awaited the first episode but when it aired, some of my excitement dampened. The show was okay. As it progressed, it became less interesting until I no longer cared whether or not I saw the latest episode.

Vampire/zombie apocalypse stories are always interesting and exciting to me. Thinking the fault might be with the TV show’s creators, I decided to read the book, or rather, download the audiobook. But unfortunately, the book proved to be as lackluster for me as the show. This is the first vampire/zombie apocalypse story to bore me. I didn’t complete it.

Genre:

Science fiction, post-apocalypse; Horror, supernatural

Series:

The Passage, book 1

Pubbed:

2010

Quick summary:

Here’s a quick rundown of what happens. First, there’s this agent dude, Special Agent Brad Wolgast, who is grieving the loss of his daughter and broken marriage. He’s working a new job when the book starts, basically talking to inmates on life sentences and people with little to no connections into signing up to work on an ultra-secret government experiment that can fuck the world if it ever goes wrong — it does, obviously.

The experiment is the work of Dr. Jonas Lear, who went on an expedition into a jungle in Bolivia (if I recall correctly) with several companions, including his friend Dr. Tim Fanning. Lear was trying to seek a way to save his wife (I forgot what’s wrong with her in the book, but in the TV show she has Alzheimer’s) by studying some bats there. The U.S. government joins in the experiment because of its potential to aid defense operations. But while exploring the jungle, the group is set upon by vampire bats, which kills and infects many members of the group. Of those who were bitten, only one survived — Fanning, who becomes known as Zero.

A facility is built in Colorado to research the potential of Zero’s blood in helping to boost humans’ immunity. However, as research progresses and more individuals are brought to the facility by Agent Wolgast and are given Zero’s blood, something weird begins to happen to the guards, operators, and even the janitorial crew. Sometimes individuals have blackouts and can’t recall what they’ve done for the past couple hours. It makes several individuals there anxious.

Anyway, realizing the bodies of adults tend to degenerate quickly when given Zero’s blood, Lear decides to run his experiment on a kid. Agent Wolgast is sent to grab Amy Bellafonte, a six-year-old girl living in poverty with her single mom, who had begun to prostitute herself to raise enough money to care for herself and Amy. But a fateful night forced her to abandon Amy at a convent, where she hopes the nuns will care for her daughter. Sister Lacey Antoinette Kudoto, a nun who immigrated from Sierra Leone, takes an immediate liking to Amy and realizes there is something special about the girl. She tries to stop Wolgast from recruiting Amy but, unable to do so, follows them to the government facility.

A couple years in the future, the world has drastically changed. There was a mass outbreak from the facility in the past, which caused a vampire apocalypse. Now, in the future, people live in compounds, communities barricaded from the world and the vampires in it. New characters at a compound in California are introduced to us. We learn how the compound was created and that many think of it as a safe haven and the last refuge for humans, but only a few are aware of the threat there to their lives.

That’s about where I stopped reading. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

As I’ve mentioned above, I DNF’d this one, so take my opinions here with a grain of salt. I think I stopped about 50% through the story, or at least, so it felt.

The story started out fairly interesting, mostly because I saw the show first and couldn’t help checking where the two are similar. I appreciate the backstory I get from the book and was surprised at certain changes the show made to the work (in the book, Amy possessed special abilities before she was injected with Zero’s blood; Babcock is a crazy dude; Dr. Lear doesn’t appear for long in the pages I read and his wife has more influence in the show).

However, despite what I know was coming, I gradually began to lose interest in what’s happening. The pace is very slow, almost creeping, and the characters didn’t interest me much. The combination made parts that are supposed to elicit a high response from me underwhelming. So that part when the vampires break out didn’t interest me much. It could have been that because I saw the movie, I knew what to expect. But when a story captivates me, it doesn’t matter if I’ve already experienced it or not. I will be surprised, horrified, scared, anxious at moments that call for such emotions.

The length of the novel was also unexpected. Actually, because I was listening to the audiobook, I didn’t realize how long the story is. I’m still not savvy with audiobook apps and such, so I hardly pay attention to the overall length of time for the narration; I can’t judge how the length of time correlates to number of pages. But after what I thought was the climax — when the vampires break out from the government facility — I expected the story to wrap up in a few pages. This didn’t happen. Instead, the narrative switches to different characters in the future who tell us what becomes of the world following the vampires’ breakout. Although this is needed, by then my interest was seriously starting to wan and the slow progress became annoying, so I increased the speed of the audiobook hoping to get through it quicker. But even that didn’t help.

Eventually I gave up on it. I actually stopped at a section that made me wonder what would happen next because it seems that vampires had infiltrated the seemingly impregnable compound. I felt an emotion at that point. I felt scared because it was obvious that the leader and probably several other people have been compromised by a vampire’s telepathic ability. I wanted to know how events would unfold, but I had no patience to push through the interminably slow pace to find out. So I spoiled myself by checking the Wiki pages for the story instead.

From those Wiki pages, The Passage sounds like an interesting read that would keep me on edge wondering if the characters will survive in this post-apocalyptic world and what would become of the people in the compound. It tempted me to keep reading, but I wasn’t interested enough to do so. I DNF’d it.

Overall: ★★★☆☆

It’s well written and the concept is one that would usually interest me. I think if the pace wasn’t so slow I would have completed it. It’s not a bad read; it just didn’t keep my interest.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

It’s worth trying if it sounds interesting to you.

P.S.:

I totally forgot to talk about the narration since this is an audiobook. It’s the first this has happened because that’s usually the first thing I mention. I see this occurence as a good thing: It shows that I’m growing more familiar with using audiobooks.

Well, I don’t have much to say about the narration. It worked for me, and I appreciate that female perspectives are narrated by a female narrator.

14 thoughts on ““The Passage” by Justin Cronin, narr. by Scott Brick, Abby Craden, and Adenrele Ojo

  1. I made it to the end (also listening to the audiobook) and there were quite a few things I liked about it, but the crawling pace certainly made it tough to get through, so I can understand why you DNFd! The pace also doesn’t change later on so if you weren’t liking it at the point where you stopped it was probably a good idea not to continue.

    Like

  2. Pingback: 2019 Reading Wrap-Up: Second Quarter | Zezee with Books

  3. I finished this book and thought it was too long and not very good. I had the first mate spoil the rest of the series for me and have to admit that I am so glad I didn’t continue. It was great to read yer thoughts on this one. Arrrr!
    x The Captain

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly! I thought it was too long too and I didn’t even complete the thing. Lol ditto on deciding not to continue. After reading up on the whole story on Wiki, I realized I wouldn’t be interested in slogging through all that.

      Like

  4. Appreciate your thoughts on this one. I love vampires / zombies too, especially apocalypses. I don’t think I knew exactly what this was about although I have heard of it in a vague way. It’s a shame that it didn’t work out! I’ll probably pass on this one.

    Like

  5. Great review, hun! I watched the first episode of the TV show and gave up. Ahaha
    I usually love dystopian / zombie stuff (The Walking Dead is amazing! the earlier seasons though), but this one didn’t catch my attention at all. I was thinking of reading the book, but seeing your feedback I probably won’t bother.
    Do you know any other dystopain / zombie / viruses books? (for some reason I love reading about other people’s suffering… what does that say about me?!) 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol! That’s okay. Reading about other’s plight is a way to experience and understand something we don’t encounter in our everyday lives. Well, that’s how I look at it.
      Zombie story I really like is The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. It was made into a TV show that like but (tbh) wasn’t that good. I’ve only read the first book and it’s a slow build, but I really like it.
      I also liked Black Summer that came out on Netflix couple weeks ago.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.