It was possible, he understood, for a person’s life to become just a long series of mistakes, and that the end, when it came, was just one more mistake in a chain of bad choices. The thing was, most of these mistakes were actually borrowed from other people. You took their bad ideas, and for whatever reason, made them your own.

The Passage (The Passage Series #1)
Justin Cronin | 2010 | 897 Pages


The Plot

It’s hard to even describe the plot of this book without giving away some many of the amazing things about it- the structure itself, the change in tone, even the genre.

It’s at its core a book about the end of the world. There is a virus and a war, but also so much more. It both taps into and subverts many of the tropes connected with such tales. The story unfolds over time, giving away its secrets, and blending mystery with horror with tales of survival.


The narrative outline is exceptionally well done. When reading this book you really don’t know where things are going to go. What characters are important? Who will disappear forever? What is the end game, and how will we get to it? Whenever I felt comfortable with a setting or event everything would get turned around.

This book is absolutely a case of the journey being more important than the destination. But not just that, the journey is half in darkness. I’ve rarely felt so blindsided by change. I thought I had people figured out, I thought I had a handle on the world and its mysteries and antagonists. I was usually wrong. The plot is just similar enough to other genre offerings that you think it’ll be straightforward… until it isn’t anymore. As a reader you are in the same boat as the characters the novel features; a sense of unease coats you and everything around you. Nothing is truly safe.


It feels like an absolute cop out, but I don’t have any major issues with this book. The narrative was wonderful and mysterious, the characters were as well conceived as they could’ve been, and the setting was appropriately dire and terrifying. While it ended with some unanswered questions I imagine most will be addressed in the subsequent books.

If I had to find something to gripe on? The dialog. It can be a little awkward sometimes, and it falls prey to one of my literary peeves- crappy made up swearing. Did everyone forget the expletive classics? Because the replacement words are pretty lame and pack nowhere near the same punch. If characters are going to be subjected to gritty violence, at least have their swearing fit.

Should You Read This?

Unless you rabidly, vehemently hate horror novels or anything with a post-apocalyptic setting, pick this up. It’s now found a home on my “books to annoyingly recommend to everyone” list and I’ve already found a few real-life takers so far.

Find a copy, buckle in, and get ready for an adventure that is both familiar and amazingly unique. It really was a fantastic ride and I’m eager to dig into the rest of the trilogy.