If someone had told me this book was about vampires, I never would have picked it up. So I am rather grateful that I didn’t hear this book was about vampires before I was a good chunk into it. Because even if there are vampire types in this book, this isn’t really a vampire book at all.
It is difficult to characterize the book The Passage because it would feel at home in so many genres; it has a literary fiction vibe to it, but also a touch of fantasy and even western while being post apocalyptic. As someone who does not have a great appreciation for fantasy or western, I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed this book.
I think what makes Cronin’s book such a success is his development of character and the opening sequence which immediately connects the world of The Passage with our world. Although it is set in a rather vague point in the not so distant future, the main character was born in the 2000s and provides a strong anchor for the entire course of the book.
The Passage is the story of a young girl named Amy who somehow manages to survive as a horrid disease wipes out most of the human race. When she meets up with a small colony of people in California, they work together to find a way to rescue both the colony and the few remaining humans in the world.
I know, it sounds like a total sci.fi fantasy, but this book makes for a great read even if you aren’t a sci.fi enthusiast. Despite the fact that there is a great deal of world building (something I usually find dense and dry), the characters and character development are enough to keep even a non-sci.fi fan totally absorbed in this world.
Cronin says in an interview published in the book that his story was greatly influenced by discussions with his daughter on runs together. He used many of her ideas, including one about a girl saving the world, to help build his story. I think it is a lot of this human element that makes this book really work.
There is a sequel to The Passage, called The Twelve, which I haven’t read yet, but have now put on my “to read” book. If you are a fantasy reader, try both of them.