The Passage

The Passage

The Passage is a novel by Justin Cronin, published in 2010 by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. The Passage debuted at #3 on the New York Times hardcover fiction best seller list, and remained on the list for seven additional weeks. It is the first novel of a completed trilogy; the second book The Twelve was released in 2012, and the third book The City of Mirrors released in 2016. The novel and its sequels were to be adapted into a film trilogy; however, they were instead developed into a Fox television series.

Justin Cronin (born 1962) is an American author. He has written five novels: Mary and O'Neil and The Summer Guest, as well as a vampire trilogy consisting of The Passage, The Twelve and City of Mirrors. He has won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, the Stephen Crane Prize, and a Whiting Award.

 

Born and raised in New England, Cronin is a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He taught creative writing and was the "Author in-residence" at La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1992 to 2003. He is a former professor of English at Rice University, and he lives with his wife and children in Houston, Texas.

 

In July 2007, Variety reported that Fox 2000 had bought the screen rights to Cronin's vampire trilogy.The first book of the series, The Passage, was released in June 2010. It garnered mainly favorable reviews. The book has been adapted by Fox into a television series, with Cronin credited as a co-producer.

Bibliography

 

    A Short History of the Long Ball (1990)

    Mary and O'Neil (2001) – Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award and The Stephen Crane Prize from Book of the Month Club

    The Summer Guest (2004)

    The Passage (2010) (Book 1 of The Passage Trilogy)

    The Twelve (2012) (Book 2 of The Passage Trilogy)

    The City of Mirrors (2016) (Book 3 of The Passage Trilogy)

Setting

 

The Passage begins in the near future and details an apocalyptic and, later, post-apocalyptic world that is overrun by zombie/vampire like beings who are infected by a highly contagious virus. What begins as a project to develop a new immunity-boosting drug based on a virus carried by an unnamed species of bat in South America eventually becomes the virus that transforms the world. The novel begins in 2016 and spans more than ninety years, as colonies of humans attempt to live in a world filled with superhuman creatures who are continually on the hunt for fresh blood.

Development

 

Cronin first began developing his ideas for The Passage in 2006 when his daughter asked him to write a book about a "girl who saves the world." He set out to write a book that combined elements of multiple genres, most predominantly horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Cronin wanted his vampiric creatures to seem like real-world organisms that might have inspired the vampire stories he knew from his childhood and the vampire-like creatures found in the folklore of numerous cultures. Cronin described writing the book as feeling "natural", and having come "very quickly". Cronin said that the title is a reference to the characters' journeys, and the journey "from life to death". Cronin said that many of the places featured in the novel were selected because they were places he had lived, and that he decided to "travel every mile my characters did, to capture not only the details of place, but the feeling of place."

Reception

 

Mark Medley of the National Post referred to The Passage as "Homeric", calling it "one of the creepiest books of 2010". The review also likened the novel to The Stand and referenced comparisons of Cronin to Michael Crichton. Publishers Weekly criticized Cronin's use of certain "tropes" of the genre, but added that "he manages to engage the reader with a sweeping epic style." Booklist said that the book was so similar to The Stand that it "required some fact-checking to ascertain it was not written under a new King pseudonym." USA Today said that The Passage "could be the best book of the summer." The New York Times Book Review said that The Passage is "A blockbuster…astutely plotted and imaginative".The Los Angeles Times said The Passage is "as stirring as it is epic", and even described a portion of the book as "nearly flawless", though it also describes some of the narration as "portentous and slack". The San Francisco Chronicle selected The Passage as one of the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2010, and describes the book as being "action packed" and "rousing".

 

The book has also been praised by numerous contemporary authors. Stephen King called The Passage "enthralling", and said that "It has the vividness that only epic works of fantasy and imagination can achieve." Dan Chaon called The Passage "hypnotic" and said that "you can’t turn the pages fast enough, and yet... you don’t want it to end." Jennifer Egan said that "Justin Cronin has written a wild, headlong, sweeping extravaganza of a novel. The Passage is the literary equivalent of a unicorn: a bonafide thriller that is sharply written, deeply humane, ablaze with big ideas, and absolutely impossible to put down."[9] Danielle Trussoni called The Passage a "sweeping dystopian epic"

Adaptation

Main article: The Passage (TV series)

 

Fox 2000 and Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions purchased the movie rights to this novel for $1.75 million USD in 2007, long before the book was completed. John Logan, writer of Scott's Gladiator, was to write the movie's screenplay. According to Justin Cronin they were first focusing on one movie, but since he already mapped out the other two books, they knew what was coming next and they planned on three movies.

 

Scott Free eventually determined that the property would better serve as a television series and, in2016, adapted the book series into a pilot for Fox. The pilot was written by Liz Heldens and produced by Matt Reeves. Jason Ensler directed the pilot; the show began shooting in metro Atlanta in the summer of 2018 and premiered in January 2019 on Fox. Mark-Paul Gosselaar plays Brad Wolgast, and Saniyya Sidney plays 10-year-old Amy Bellafonte.

 

Review:

theguardian.com

Alice Fisher

This is one of those books that arrives on the shelves with a backstory. When the first chapters of Justin Cronin's vampire fantasy started circulating in US publishing houses back in 2007, they sparked a fierce bidding war. Cronin became a rich man long before the public got their hands on his work (the book and film deals netted over $5m). The public's turn has finally come and The Passage is being touted as this year's blockbuster beach read.

 

The story starts in the near future with government experiments on a virus that gives those infected with it superhuman strength and eternal life. The downside is that it also gives them fangs, claws, glowstick orange skin, a taste for human flesh and raging photophobia. The first section details the virus's discovery and subsequent tests conducted on death-row inmates. It's taut and tight and, from the amorality of the military experiments to the passing references to America's polluted, lawless state, everything in the opening section drips with dread.

 

In fact, the opening chapters are so effective that it takes ages to settle into the second section, which is set in the post-apocalyptic world left by the inevitable release of the virus. The action had been fast and violent, with helicopters and bombs; in part two, there's a new cast of characters living a century later who plod round on horses and get excited if they catch a rabbit. The pace does pick up, though, and Cronin's postviral world is inventive and interesting – even if it does owe a debt to The Road, The Stand and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.

 

Cronin, who won the Hemingway/ Pen award for an earlier novel, is a skilled writer. Most of the characters are well drawn and he tackles the philosophical issue of gaining eternal life at the cost of your soul in between the throat-ripping battle scenes. But he does have some annoying quirks. He sprinkles italics and unnecessary capital letters around in a very distracting way. He's weirdly coy about using the word vampire – his creations are variously called Virals, Flyers, Dracs and Smokes.

 

Also, the only character who appears in both sections of the novel is a six-year-old girl called Amy (or The Girl from Nowhere, as Cronin has it). She should be fascinating – Amy possesses ill-defined special powers and has kept her humanity despite viral infection – but readers have no access to her interior life and she barely speaks. No doubt this is because The Passage is the first of a trilogy and her story will unfold in later books, but it does mean that this one has a gaping hole at its heart.

 

A further problem is practical. If you need to take an easyJet flight to reach the beach you want to read this on, it will be virtually impossible to fit this 766-page hardback in hand luggage. If you do manage to cram it in, though, you won't regret it. I turned The Passage's pages feverishly to find out what happened next.



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