I usually listen to at least one audio book a week, either on the way back and forth to work or when I can't sleep. Last week found me up to date with audio review copies, so I went searching on my library's download site for something to listen to. Now, I had bought The Passage when it came out, but hadn't yet got around to reading it. (probably one of the last readers around who hasn't!) But, I thought I would give the first few chapters of the audio version a try.
OH WOW! I am soooo hooked. It's a large tome - there are 29 chapters of roughly 70 minutes each and I'm just starting number 20, so this will be a partial review.
Why am I 'oh wowing'? Well, I love post apocalyptic fiction and Justin Cronin has woven an amazing, riveting tale.
A secret US government agency is experimenting at a hidden facility with a virus found in the jungle. They're experimenting on convicts and those that won't be missed. One of those is Amy, a six year old girl. Something goes dreadfully wrong and all hell breaks loose - literally. The experiment has spawned 'virals' - something akin to a vampire. Before the virals decimate the population, a group of healthy children are spirited away to a self contained colony for safe keeping.....and almost 100 years later, the descendants are still there - waiting for the military to come back. But it is someone else that shows up and shatters the calm - Amy is at the front gate.
Cronin's imagining of the direction a self contained, self ruling society would take was fascinating. The social hierarchy and the life they have carved out was brought to life with much detail. But, it is the cast of characters that jumped off the page - there are many, each with their own personalities, secrets and reasons. Cronin manipulates the reader/listener wonderfully - there are cliff hangers, mysteries, action and the ever present question of what is going to happen next. For Cronin keeps you on your toes - no character is safe and I honestly couldn't predict where the story was going to go. It reminded me of one of my fave books of all time - Stephen King's The Stand.
The Passage was read by one of the best narrators around- (and the deciding factor in choosing to listen to the rest of the book) - Scott Brick. He has the most wonderfully expressive reading voice, capturing the tension, the emotions and the feel of an author's words perfectly. He truly makes a book come 'alive'.
Gotta run - off to work and another chapter on the way. (And you can bet I'll be listening to the second book in this trilogy - The Twelve - as well!) Listen to an excerpt of The Passage. You can find Justin Cronin on Facebook and on Twitter.