Review: THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin

Reading time 4 mins


I knew very little about this book going in. I thought THE PASSAGE would be a dystopian novel. I had no idea it apocalyptic masterpiece that would occupy my mind even whilst not reading it and make me fall in love with all it’s perfectly written characters. I almost think going in blind is best. Plus, there is no good way to describe the experience that is THE PASSAGE.

“It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.”

This story starts with the gathering of death row inmates to volunteer for project NOAH, a government experiment taking place somewhere in Colorado. It goes horribly wrong and the inmates escape and unleash hell to anyone not affected. It is a vampireish virus which turns it’s victims into flesh eating, sun fearing, monsters. FBI agent Brad Wolgast, once the man who gathered the inmates, now seeks to save a small girl from the facility where she may or may not have been affected as well. They try to live a life away from the virus, but it doesn’t last.

“Mankind had built a world that would take hundred years to die. A century for the last lights to go out.”

Much later, 90 or so year, civilization is taking it’s last breath as the light, the only thing that keeps the “virals” at bay, are about to go out. For one community this catastrophic ending may be prevented by a road trip to find a signal that is still being beamed out from Colorado. When they find a small girl acting as an ally they all know something is different about her. None of them realize how different and that she may be the key to keeping their community alive.

Oh gosh, I hope I didn’t say too much. The premise of this story is hard to digest and even harder to condense into just two paragraphs. This book is 766 pages long, so there is no way I could do it justice. What I really want to express about this book is all depth of characters, of the beautifully describes scenes and landscapes, of adventures both big and small, of fears and hopes and desires, of really everything that matters most to me while reading a story.

This story encompasses so much time and distance that it is a wonder anyone could put it all into one book. Not only that but all the characters have so much depth. As the virus breaks out we meet all 12 candidates that get the virus initially. We also get to know (and love) a small child called Amy who comes from nothing, is abandoned, and then stolen before finally being saved. Amy is crucial to this story and yet remained a big mystery for me as I read. Ninety years later we meet a whole community of survivors, most of whom were not around to know any different. Their run in with Amy is impossible, and yet there she is almost unchanged.

There is a bit of gore (yay) and some really terrifying scenes in THE PASSAGE. There is also so much hope and love between characters. I cried a bit in the middle and it still makes me sad to think about it, tbh. From the middle straight through to the ending there was adventure and no safe place for these refugees. I felt actual fear for their safety. I also felt all the hope they carried, especially from Peter, who becomes Amy’s constant companion.

I am so glad there are two more books in this series. I borrowed this ebook from the library but found I wanted to get back to it even when I had my hands free so I bought the audible version as well. Scott Brick and 3 others narrated this book. To say it was engrossing is an understatement. I honestly cannot wait to get back to the writing style, the characters, the drama, the loves and new beginnings, the inevitable obstacles, and all the feelings this book brought forth from me. I will definitely be reading the rest of this series. I highly recommend this book.

My Rating

The Passage Series

Review: THE PASSAGE by Justin CroninThe Passage by Justin Cronin
Series: The Passage #1
Also in this series: The Twelve
Published by Ballantine Books on June 8th 2010
Pages: 766
Length: 36 hours and 52 minutes
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Suspense
Also by this author: The Twelve
eBook provided by The Library

AmazonAudibleBook Depository

NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST NOVELS OF THE YEAR BY TIME AND LIBRARY JOURNAL--AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post * Esquire * U.S. News & World Report * NPR/On Point * St. Louis Post-Dispatch * BookPage   An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy--abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape--but he can't stop society's collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.   "Enthralling . . . You will find yourself captivated."--Stephen King   "Magnificently unnerving . . . The Stand meets The Road."--Entertainment Weekly   "Great entertainment . . . [a] big, engrossing read."--The Dallas Morning News   "Mythic storytelling."--San Francisco Chronicle   The story of Amy continues in The Twelve, coming soon. Look for a special preview in the back of the book.

About Justin Cronin

In 2010, Justin Cronin’s The Passage was a phenomenon. The unforgettable tale that critics and readers compared to the novels of Cormac McCarthy, Michael Crichton, Stephen King, and Margaret Atwood became a runaway bestseller and enchanted readers around the globe. It spent 3 months on The New York Times bestseller list. It was featured on more than a dozen “Best of the Year” lists, including Time’s “Top 10 Fiction of 2010,” NPR’s “Year’s Most Transporting Books,” and Esquire’s “Best & Brightest of 2010.” It was a #1 Indie Next Selection. It sold in over 40 countries and became a bestseller in many of them. Stephen King called The Passage “enthralling… read this book and the ordinary world disappears.”

Now, PEN/Hemingway Award-winner Justin Cronin bring us the conclusion to his epic trilogy with The City of Mirrors. For the last time, Amy—the Girl from Nowhere, who lived a thousand years—will join her friends and face down the demons that threaten the last of humanity. Justin Cronin is also the author of Mary and O’Neil (which won the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Stephen Crane Prize), and The Summer Guest. Other honors for his writing include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Whiting Writer’s Award.

A Distinguished Faculty Fellow at Rice University, he divides his time between Houston, Texas, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

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By | 2017-09-07T21:09:51+00:00 Thursday, September 7, 2017|5 stars, Adventure, Apocolyptic, Horror, reviews, Science Fiction|4 Comments

About the Author:

Mother, Lover, Writer, Reviewer, Social Media Princess. Karen has been a blogger since 2010. She is a US Army veteran, a medical professional, and the mother of four. Karen is the owner of That Book Store llc. She reviews books and shares mind vomit for this blog in her 'spare' time. Karen lives in New England.


  1. Jamie September 11, 2017 at 12:10 am - Reply

    I’ve seen this book show up on a couple of horror to lists and have been curious about it, I had no idea exactly what it was about though and the premise you described sounds awesome! The idea of a vampiric virus reminds me of I Am Legend. This definitely has me more excited to read the book and I’ll probably try to read it for the Halloween season. Awesome review!

    • Karen Blue
      September 12, 2017 at 10:02 pm - Reply

      It is really great writing. I am reading the second book now and even though the author keeps throwing in new characters to follow they all tie in to this apocalyptic mess. I hope you get a chance to read this, it is really good.

  2. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity September 18, 2017 at 9:53 am - Reply

    You’ve successfully got me intrigued without revealing too much of the plot. I’ve heard of this book before and thought about reading and then promptly forgotten about it. It sounds like an intense and amazing book (and hopefully the rest of the series is as good). I hadn’t a clue what it was about I just knew it was a book I would be interested in. I saw that there were dystopian elements and it seems awesome. I needed more book on my TBR, right?
    Check Out Becky @ A Fool’s Ingenuity’s most recent post- The Holiday HiatusMy Profile

    • Karen Blue
      September 20, 2017 at 6:40 pm - Reply

      I had never even heard of this book until Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer mentioned it. I am currently reading the second book and it is just as good. These are long books but so worth adding to your TBR. Thanks for checking out my review!

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