Overhyped and a critics' darling, Justin Cronin's The Passage is an epic, if overlong thriller, with plenty to offer. Marketed as a "literary" vampire thriller, The Passage is not a vampire novel in the traditional sense, as Cronin is more interested in the characters' relationship dynamics and the myriad cliffhangers than in bloodsuckers and vampire killers. The vampires, for the most part, are used as a "mcguffin" to weave the strands of a gargantuan tale of survival, good vs. evil, and the tenacity of the human spirit.
It doesn't always work, as Cronin bites off more than he can chew, as the genre-hopping nature of the book (from melodrama, to thriller, to horror, to post-apocalyptic drama) is occasionally more dizzying than thrilling, and the large tapestry of characters and Cronin's penchant for sentimentality all get in the way of the storytelling.
But, overall, this is grand storytelling, addictive and entertaining, even if it's a bit overcooked and about a hundred pages too long (it clocks in at over 870 pages).
The first part of a trilogy that continues with The Twelve, and concludes with the 2016 release of The City of Mirrors.
Text © Ahmed Khalifa. 2016.