For a month or so I have been trying to convince everyone to read my vampire books. I’m not even sure where I heard about these, but I bought The Passage by Justin Cronin and read it in about three days. The book itself is unattractive. It looks like a meaty bestseller you’d pick up at an airport newstand after learning that your flight was delayed. But of course, we must never judge a book by its cover.
It opens with “Sonnet 64” by William Shakespeare. This is how you know a book means business. Every major section also opens with a quotation. That is the way to my heart, by the way.
This is also a book of unlikely heroes. The true heroine is the illegitimate daughter of a young mother who finds herself alone and friendless, and does what she thinks is best for her daughter. Amy Harper Bellafonte is the least of these. I’m well aware that I am reading too much into this book, but there were some beautiful biblical parallels about Noah and the Ark. Also, God is not absent from this dystopian world. I’ve always found it unsatisfactory when society breaks down so completely after a great disaster. I’d like to think that in a time or crisis when the world was free-falling into chaos I’d remember my Bible. And that I’d remember my Shakespeare. I’d be thankful for all the poetry I’ve memorized. I’d try to pass on those things. But I digress.
Another thing this book had going for it was the way it treated the vampire/zombies. Without giving too much away, they possess complex stories, particularly one of them. While they are certainly violent and doomed, they also still bear a vestige of their humanity. They’ve forgotten who they were, and that is their greatest tragedy.
The book is at its strongest when it focuses on lesser characters. I read this books not because the plot was so compelling (it was, though), but because of these smaller vignettes. In the second book, there is a developmentally disabled man who loves Thomas the Tank Engine. He drives a school bus. Most of the children make fun of him, and he endures a lot. His mama always told him to be a “good little engine,” and so as the world crumbles about him, he puts on his striped conductor’s hat and drives the bus (filled with survivors) to safety. Once again, the least of these.
The third book in the trilogy will be released this October, and of course I will be reading it. It was so refreshing to read a book that was thrilling and well-written. I devoured The Hunger Games and I’ve dabbled in Divergent, but none of them made me think, and I certainly wouldn’t consider re-reading them. But I think I’d revisit these. At any rate, I would highly recommend The Passage and The Twelve.