Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Best Book of Summer

Yes, I know we have a lot of summer left.  But nothing I read will be better than The Passage by Justin Cronin. I finished this book several weeks ago and haven't written about it because words fail me.  I babble about it to everyone I meet and I carry images from it with me still.  So here's my feeble attempt to tell you about it.

In the not distant future, the government is tinkering with a newly discovered virus.  The virus has the potential to extend human lifespan indefinitely, if it can be buffered enough not to kill the infected person.  In order to engage in final testing, death row inmates are convinced to be test subjects.  Something goes terribly wrong.

Does this sound like a dozen science fiction/end of the world books you may have read?  The Passage has been compared to The Stand (King) and The Road (McCarthy).  Justin Cronin elevates this material to a new level.  He populates his huge canvas with characters rich and compelling and flawed and human.  He does not demonize his demons nor does he glorify his heroes. Read it simply as a story and it's a great one. Read it as a fine piece of literature as well.  While the premise is genre-restricted, the scope and wonder of this novel transcends genre.  It is, like most great books, about being human. Just read it...then come talk to me. There's much to talk about.

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