- Mercy Sais
I loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dark Shadows on TV when I was a kid, Anne’s Rice’s rock’n’roll vampires, and I even discussed what team I would join in the ‘tween Twilight Saga. I also devour vampire novels with “punny” titles such as Undead and Unappreciated by Mary-Janice Davidson, but I put The Passage on request at the library because of an article I read in Time Magazine that stated that vampires are scary again, and I do love a character that bites.
Justin Cronin is an aficionado of vampire lore. Even Stephen King has given Cronin a thumb’s up - The Passage does play homage to The Stand. His vampires - Dracs or Virals as Cronin calls them - make clicking noises like Nosferatu’s creepy nails; they mesmerize and herd the humans in encampments like cattle to be able to feed on them yet they are tragic in that they do keep a touch of humanity in them as they always come “home” after they have been turned.
The Passage touches all the fears of the present: a pandemic, government conspiracy, genocide, war, the gulf coast is destroyed to keep the virals from spreading, and the United States is no longer a superpower. The first part of the book explains how the government and a “mad” scientist trying to create super soldiers let the virus loose on the world. Of course, the experiment goes wrong as they are using 12 inmates on death row - the worst of humanity - as subjects so what they create is horrifying.
Fast forward 100 years and the chronicle of what happens continues in Cronin’s fast-paced plot. This book is a hefty but mesmerizing 766 pages and part of a planned trilogy. Humanity needs monsters to conquer as we face our fears. We also need our heroes. One child, Amy, who is infected but survives the transformation to be long-lived and to have supernatural and mystical powers, and a few groups of humans that have survived keep hope alive. If you're intrigued, be sure to watch this interview with Justin Cronin.