I don’t usually spend WEEKS reading a book. And, even more rarely do I spend weeks reading a book that I’m really not even sure I like very much. So I can’t say what possessed me to spend weeks reading The Passage by Justin Cronin.
Well, for one thing, it was a free read. I was kind of tickled when I discovered that my library had an epub copy available for my Sony Reader. I reserved it, and within a few days, got an email notification that it was ready and waiting. I’m not sure if I would’ve actually spent the money to buy the ebook if it hadn’t been available through the library… but I think I would’ve considered it.
Before I read The Passage, I hadn’t read a single review of it (although I have now). But I follow a lot of book folks on Twitter, and this book is all I heard about for a very long time. So my expectations were pretty much off the charts! Of course, the last time that happened, I ran out and bought all three Stieg Larsson books and then kicked myself… because I REALLY didn’t understand the hype, at all, after I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But, that’s another topic altogether. Bottom line: I should quit thinking I HAVE to read a book based on Twitter hype!
I realize I’m sounding less than pleased with The Passage, but I didn’t really NOT like it. I don’t think I’ve ever had this reaction to a book before. I hated a lot about it, and I found myself making “ewwww! ick!!!” faces at the book quite frequently (my husband was pretty amused, I think). However, I had a hard time putting it down every night and forcing myself to go to sleep. I felt compelled to keep reading, even though I wasn’t loving much about it. And I’m having trouble explaining that, even to myself!
I do think I liked the story itself. It’s definitely a different take on the vampire thing, and I rather enjoyed that part of it. Although I love my romanticized, sexy, talldarkandhandsome, heroic vampires as much as the next girl (or middle-aged mom, as the case may be), I’m also quite happy to think of vamps as nasty, creepy, crawly, reptilian creatures who are out to destroy the world (although, really, the vamps in The Passage aren’t quite that simplistic either!).
I also fell in love with a lot of the characters in this book. Of course, it’s hard NOT to get invested in characters when you’ve spent almost 900 pages and a few sleepless nights with them! And I was also very angry with Mr. Cronin early in the book when 99% of the characters he’d just spent hundreds of pages telling me about ended up as vampire food. A lot of time was spent building these characters, sometimes in painstaking detail,and them BAM! they were gone. I really hate it when that happens in a book.
I remember thinking, at one point, “Okay, I’m only a third of the way through this book, but EVERYONE is dead now.” And I couldn’t imagine what could possibly happen for another 600 pages.
My main complaint about the book is that I felt lost and confused a lot of the time (also not something I enjoy as a reader!). I feel like I “got” the main parts of the story… and I pretty much know what happened… but not completely. There are lots of gray areas, where I’ve drawn conclusions of my own or have a feeling about what was going on, but I’m not absolutely sure. I hate gray areas. When I can’t picture something in my head clearly enough, then I feel like it’s not very well written. Sometimes simpler is better, in my opinion… and there just wasn’t much of anything “simple” in The Passage!
I know there are a lot of people anxiously awaiting the next installment of this series/trilogy/whatever it is… people who are screaming that 2 years is too long to wait, they’ll simply go crazy before the next book is released. I’m certainly not one of those people. I’m not even sure I’ll want to read the next book. But, then again… I’m not sure I won’t, either! I’ve had mixed feelings about this book from page one. And, almost 900 pages later, I’m still very torn.
I do know that, right now, I am REALLY looking forward to reading something light-hearted and fun, with a very definite Happily Ever After on the last page!