Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Passage

The Passage by Justin Cronin
(The Passage trilogy #1)

The Passage is reminiscent of both The Stand by Stephen King and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It begins in 2012 with the birth of a girl named Amy, the child of a teenage mother, who quickly begins to manifest unusual abilities. Meanwhile, in a remote location in Colorado, the U.S. Government is engaged in a top secret experiment called "Project Noah" in which death-row inmates are recruited and injected with a genetically engineered virus derived from bats from deep in the jungles of Bolivia. The virus has one of two effects on the subjects, either it kills them quickly or it mutates them, giving them incredible strength and regenerative capabilities along with a vampire-like thirst for blood. One of the subjects, Babcock, has the ability to influence weaker-minded individuals and uses that ability to orchestrate his escape and the subsequent escapes of the eleven other successful test subjects.

The escape of the "virals," as they become known, is the beginning of the end. They quickly decimate the population of North America, leaving the rest of the world in a state of instability and chaos. Nuclear bombs are used by the government in an unsuccessful attempt to halt the spread of the virus and to kill the virals.

The book then skips nearly 100 years into the future. The post-apocalyptic world that remains consists of a scattering of small groups of people relegated to living in make-shift fortresses in order to survive in a world now overrun by the virals. One night a girl turns up at the gates of one of the fortresses. She doesn't speak and she somehow managed to survive the virals on her own without any protection. She appears to be about 15 years old, but a microchip found just under the skin at the base of her skull indicates that her name is Amy and she was born almost a century ago.

The Passage is my kind of vampire book. The virals bear little resemblance to the sophisticated and manipulative character thought of by Brom Stoker. But best of all, they're the types of creatures that would make quick work out of any character that ever came out of the mind of Stephanie Meyer. Go team Babcock!

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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