One need not be familiar with Chekov’s gun as a narrative principle to know that a plot regarding a secret military experiment containing a dozen vampires in a subterranean facility is bound to feature a hunt for human blood. After a superlative first three sections, I went through the rest of Justin Cronin’s “The Passage” with a grimace. By the time I’d finished, I felt as though I’d been through a two-day ordeal hunkered down with the novel. Not only because I prefer my vampires of the seductive and hot sex variety as in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series, but due to the massive amount of detail and presence of so many formulaic characters and scenarios, along with heavy handed Biblical allusions. Had Cronin’s novel finished closer to four hundred rather than right under eight hundred pages, my estimation likely would have been kinder, instead of feeling like I’ve had an overwrought mash up of “The Matrix” and “28 Days Later” franchises.
Did readers really need to come across the advice “They come from above. You only get one shot” or the reference to the “sweet spot,” the vulnerable target in centre of the vampire’s chest cavity so frequently? Was it necessary to have no less than three characters with vital information to impart to the hero Peter, just in the nick of time, that crucial turning point to move the action along? If I had a box of maps or information, I’d tell you sooner rather than later to save you the corn-pone hero and his quest tropes. Do we really need two wizened black women whose purpose in life is to assist the hero whilst one makes clichéd cups of wretched tea? Did we really need to have a detailed account of multiple characters having the same dream in order to understand Babcock? He’s evil; we get it. Why didn’t Cronin directly say that Olson was running the ultimate fundamentalist Mormon compound? When Jude pulled the move from “Cape Fear” and when the dog showed up, I almost slammed the book shut.
“The Passage” requires a huge investment of your time. At the moment, I can’t think of any reason why you should pick up the book unless you want check out the buzz for yourself.