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review 2018-08-05 17:42
The Passage: Vampocalypse Now, or at Least 2008-ish
The Passage - Justin Cronin

It's twenty minutes into the future, and an aggrieved FBI agent is rounding up subjects that no one will miss. Twelve of them are death row inmates: the thirteenth is an abandoned six-year-old, Amy Bellafonte. They are to be injected with a serum from a Bolivian bat virus to create (all together now) super-soldiers. The "virals" get vampire-y, the vampires cause mayhem, and after breaking free they overrun the United States and possibly the world. But that's only about a third of the story.

 

Once this several-hundred-page build-up is out of the way, we cut to ninety years later. In a stockade in California called the Colony, the descendants of a few survivors rely on lights to repel the virals, and the rechargeable batteries that power those lights are wearing out. Incredibly, a "walker" shows up for the first time in decades. After a fracas getting her inside the walls, the community blames the members of the Watch whose decision led to a few deaths. Before mob justice can be completely executed, a small group of companions flee the Colony, determined to find out what has happened to the rest of the world and to solve the mystery of the walker – who is none other than Amy. Not only has she survived countless viral attacks, she's barely aged in all this time.

 

The plot that ensues is hard not to compare to "The Stand," primarily because it's a story about a diverse array of scrappy blue-collar heroes who confront evil by walking across post-apocalyptic America. The characters aren't exactly the same, but the feel is vintage Stephen King. Psychic powers, unethical government experiments, maternal black women, stashes of weapons that even the odds with terrifying monsters, Biblical overtones and the infrequent nuclear blast – all these elements are King oeuvre.

 

Of course, my question when reviewing is less "has it been done before?" but "is it being done well now?" And yeah, it's not bad. The build-up to the outbreak keeps the pages turning, and the backstories of the pre-outbreak characters build some sympathy. Post-apocalypse, the dramatic moments when someone is taken by virals but *isn't* instant vamp chow make sense most of the time and lead to characterization moments. And though there are sequels, there is a reasonable amount of closure at the end of the first book. Considering it's a hefty 879 pages in paperback, I'd be angry if there weren't.

 

There are weaknesses, of course. The post-apocalyptic characters are a little more interchangeable than the well-drawn ones of the beginning. When a human encampment seems too good to be true, the twist is predictable (though the exact particulars still make for a good scene). The apocalypse feels straight out of small-town America's 2005 anti-terror/disaster preparation fantasy rather than harsh reality, or at least the impassable highways full of abandoned vehicles and degraded fuel of "The Stand." It's hard not to think of Mad Max or its South Park parody when the people of the Colony refer to "The Time Before" and use other uninspired slang. And there's a minor deus ex machina for a few characters near the end, called out in dialogue but left unanswered in this volume. (At least it wasn't the literal Hand of God setting off a nuke in Las Vegas.)

 

All that said, "The Passage" still feels like a genuine epic, one of those novels that starts out like a horror show and morphs into a battle of good versus evil. And if Stephen King were the only person who could write such a story, the world would be a drearier place. It was obviously written during the height of the War on Terror, but there's one notable quotation that still rings true:

"All this time, we were hoping the Army would come to our rescue," says Alicia, "and it turns out the army is us."

3.5 out of 5

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text 2018-07-28 12:22
Reading progress update: I've read 495 out of 785 pages.
The Passage (The Passage #1) - Justin Cronin

Oh no, I let my sister race ahead and I have a lot of catching up to do. It's certainly no hardship as this is one of my favourite books ever, I think.

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text 2018-07-23 12:19
Reading progress update: I've read 400 out of 785 pages.
The Passage (The Passage #1) - Justin Cronin

Loving it as much this time round as all the times before!

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text 2018-01-18 22:45
The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
The City of Mirrors: The Passage Trilogy, Book Three - Deutschland Random House Audio,Justin Cronin,Scott Brick

I am throwing in the towel around 15%.

 

I was so excited when I was approved for the ARC of this book! But now some time has gone by and the long and short of it is I just don't care anymore.

 

My apologies to NetGalley and to the publisher.

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text 2017-07-20 16:00
Book Booty, July 2017

 

A dear friend and colleague left the company recently. To us, it meant that we’d be seeing less of her. We decided to surprise her with a trip to The Tent and bought her a bevy of books. She loved it! We all got just a bit teary eyed but that’s life, isn’t it! You meet awesome people, get to know them better, and then become sad when you part ways with them.

Anyway, since I took myself there, I had to sample some of The Tent’s goodies. But you already knew that. So, this is what I got:

The Buried Giant is a book that I have wanted to get for a while now. The delicious controversy surrounding it and the rumor that it is fantasy without being fantasy have only convinced me to get it.

I loved both The Secret Life of Bees book and the movie. Wanting to see if the author’s other books are as magical, I have purchased this one as well. Now, I have two of her books in my collection:

Since people keep pairing the two, I have wanted to read this one ever since I read The Road. Now I can! The book can be used in lieu of a door stopper but if I can survive WoT, I am sure I will live to tell the tale after having read this one!

Read and loved this one, so I wanted it for my collection. I like the cover on this edition even though I have yet to watch the movie!

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I have heard mostly negative things about Memoirs of Geisha and how the author of that book has over-romanticized and out-slutted the role that geishas played in the Japanese society. From trusted sources come recommendations that present a more accurate picture. This author is one from that list and I couldn’t stop myself from getting this book.

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To be honest, I don’t know why I bought this…yet. I might read it or I might give it to someone who will get more use out of it than I would. Haven’t decided!

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This was a wonderful find. This book-cum-RPG thing is why I love going to The Tent. I have found all sorts of amazing things there. If you remember my illustrated Hobbit and LOTR editions, that is where I got them from.

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The empty frame was filled with cards displaying characters from the book. Each card had the picture of a character at the front and some questions (that might help in brainstorming) at the back. Here are the cards:

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A closer look:

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Am I crazy or are they really pretty? Like the book on Rock history, I haven’t decided what I am going to do with these yet. Any ideas?

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