by Justin Cronin
"Before she became the Girl from Nowhere - the One Who Walked In, the First and Last and Only, who lived a thousand years - she was just a little girl in Iowa, named Amy. Amy Harper Bellafonte."
For everything that happens in this nonstop thriller Amy, whether onstage or off, is the center, the key to overcoming the horror that has unleashed a virus that turns humans into monsters. They are called flyers, or smokers and sometimes vampires, the result of a medical experiment gone horribly wrong. The scientists in charge knew these creatures could be dangerous that's why they were closely guarded while at the same time being monitored for any other changes the virus might cause. The last person brought into this experimental group is Amy. In her the virus works differently. She heals quickly, but does not develop the terrifying aspect of the other. And that's what the doctor in charge hoped all along this new virus would do.
Unfortunately before any beneficial results can be harnessed the monsters, who have developed telepathic powers with weak minded humans, break out of confinement and make more of their kind. The apocalypse follows and the scene switches, many years later, to the desert Compound where a group of humans have found refuge. At night lights flood the area. The creatures are sensitive to light. Any expeditions to staff the turbine area which furnishes the electricity, or to bring in supplies must be done during the day.
Most of the characters whose story we follow live in this Compound. Their lives are hard scrabble as compared to the Time Before, a period few remember. As the story unfolds it becomes clear that the political chaos of the Compound has become too dangerous for certain individuals. They recognize their only hope of survival is on the outside. Life must be lived on constant alert. Always, whether inside the Compound or out, the threat of a vampire attack is present. These creatures are daring and merciless.
Much has been written about this best-seller. Most of it positive, and I am in that camp. It's not easy to keep suspense taught for 700 plus pages, but Cronin has done it. All human characters, except for one nasty government villain, are fully formed and sympathetic even with all their flaws. To capture readers an author must immediately make his audience buy into the believability of the world he has created. Cronin does that in spades.
The Passage ends with a cliff hanger, and plenty of unanswered questions. Turns out this is book one in a trilogy. Don't miss this mesmerizing, very scary story. And keep the lights on!
Reviewed by Patricia Altner who purchased this book with her own money.