What to say about The Passage? I’ve been busting to read it after reading first Raych’s review and then Trish’s review and countless other reviews on countless other blogs. I probably added my own hype to it after all of that and eventually, it was going to have to be one hell of an epic book to live up to it.
Good thing it did then.
It’s hard to even try to describe what happens in this book, but I’ll try without giving too much away. The US Army are conducting an experiment regarding a virus that will grant super-fast healing, longevity of life and probably all sorts of other things which they think will be useful in war. Imagine being able to have your best soldiers never die and able to heal themselves in hours, or maybe even minutes! They’re at the state where they need to test on some humans and who do they choose?
Inmates on death row, that’s who.
Inmates who are due to die by needle or other method soon, who have no one. No relatives, no visitors, no one that will notice when they leave their prisons without actually facing that death sentence. There are 12 of them and they are injected with the virus in a secret facility in Colorado. But let’s just say that the virus does not entirely work out as planned. The death row inmates escape by coercing the workers who observe them to open the doors to let them out. And basically, all chaos breaks lose. And like lots of people have said, the word vampire isn’t really used, but due to the fact that the escapee’s feed on blood (any blood, but human does just fine) and can create more of themselves, you see the similarities. And those sons-of-bitches move like wildfire! It isn’t long before most of the country has been infected, or exposed and people either dead or turned (described as ‘taken up’ in the books). Some flee into remote parts, others try to band together to figure out a way to survive. But the fatalities and those who are taken up, the numbers are astronomical.
Subject 13, a six year old girl, the last one taken for the experiment was given the virus but she didn’t turn into one of the creatures. She escapes the facility with the FBI agent whose job it was to bring in the Subjects. He takes her to a camp he spent summers at as a child and they live there for a while and then all of a sudden it’s almost a hundred years later and the story picks up in California, in one of the colonies built as a fortress against the creatures (referred to usually as flyers, jumps or smokes). There are walls all around the compound which the jumps cannot breach in a single leap. Because of their sensitivity to light, the creatures tend to move only at night. So at sundown, the compound powers up huge lights that keep everything bright as day, blocking out the dark and the shadows that they move in. Trouble is, their batteries are running low and the engineer/lightsperson thinks it’ll be 1 year, 2 at the most before their lights go out. And when the lights go out, they will come.
The young girl, who was 6 nearly 100 years ago when this all started, now only looks about 14. She finds the compound in California and the engineer discovers a chip in the back of her neck broadcasting a signal reading If you found her, bring her here. The signal comes from Colorado so several of the people from the compound make the decision to trek across the wasteland country to where the signal is coming from. Because she just might be the key to saving whatever humanity is left.
This book is addictive. I’ve just given the most barest summary I possibly can, because it really just has to be read. There is so much going on, but it never gets confusing. The story unfolds in a way that feels cliff-hangery (is that a word?) even when it’s just backstory or explanation. I started reading it at night and it was hard to find a place to stop and go to sleep, because it just kept making me turn the pages. And at 750-odd pages, you need that. I don’t think there was ever really a moment for me when I thought ‘hmm, this bit is unnecessary, it could’ve been removed’ or ‘this section is rambling on a bit’. The jumps are creepy and scary without being silly and laughable. There are times when I actually held my breath reading this book. I wanted to know so much more, get so much further into the story and into this devastated world, but I also never wanted the book to end.
If I thought waiting to get my hands on this book was bad – waiting for the sequel to come out is going to be so much worse.
(Book #37 of my 50 Book Challenge)