Review: The Passage

The PassageThe Passage by Justin Cronin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Someone give this man an editor! The whole book could have been cut down to half its length. There are pages after pages of needless filler, only making me roll my eyes at all the trite, cliched paragraphs I was actually reading. I know it’s supposed to invoke some emotion for the characters, but I just kept thinking, "I’ve read this before."

Now don’t get me wrong, The Passage is a page-turner. But it doesn’t actually reveal itself as that until 200 pages into the book. If you ask me, that’s too long for a book to start getting interesting.

As for the story, it was the main thing that kept me going. I’m a big fan of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction and I had very high hopes for this one considering how everyone was raving about it. It even had some dystopia thrown in, but in the end, it left an ugly taste in my mouth.

Although there were full pages crammed with pseudo-science and explanations of the virus, nothing was that believable. The characters were either flat and one dimensional, or archetypes. There’s the pure, innocent girl whose destiny is to save mankind, the old cryptic, slightly crazy old mystic who has all the answers if only someone could take the time to sit down and really listen to her. There’s the tough-as-nails woman who has something to prove. Oh and the loyal, all-believing hero who comes to terms with something.

The Passage read like a long video-game. There are intense, suspenseful action scenes, but there are also a lot of clumsy, poorly-staged exposition chapters which just made me cringe.

The worst of all, the whole novel was some modern-day metaphor for Noah’s Ark. Viruses that turn people into vampires with super strength, I can stomach, but characters who act only because they think they hear the voice of god or think they’re on god’s mission? No thanks.

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Review: Life As We Knew It

Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1) Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
4 of 5 stars

Although I would describe Life As We Knew it as apocalyptic, I don’t really want to because it doesn’t really fit in with a lot of books of that genre I’ve read. The Event in the novel is an asteroid hitting the moon and thanks to some gross miscalculations, it ends up knocking the moon off its regular orbit and closer to earth. Because the moon is suddenly closer to earth, the tides swell so that whole states get demolished, dormant volcanoes erupt, and the climate pretty much goes hay-wire.

That’s on a macro level.

The micro level is what Life As We Knew It is about. The story is told through journal entries of a 16 year old girl in a rural, northern state. The beginning of the book reads very much like a Young Adult novel, with the girl, Miranda, fretting over boys, homework, and all the usual things teenagers have on their mind.

When The Event happens, things change, but not at once, and I think this why the novel is so good. No one knows what to expect, so most people don’t prepare. People worry about mundane things like if they should send their kids into school the next day. Pfeffer makes the novel terrifying and believable by focussing on just Miranda’s family. I like that she has selfish thoughts, jealous outbursts, and flaws throughout the entire book. It made her feel realistic.

While reading this book, I kept stopping and reminding myself that this is a YA book. While the narrator is a teenager, she ends up maturing quickly because of The Event. Most of the story is dark and I really felt a sense of hopelessness to the point of wanting to put the book down, but like a bad car wreck, I couldn’t turn away.

Life As We Knew It is a decent entry in the genre and one of the better, serious YA books I’ve read. The cover is also AWESOME. Halfway through the book, I flipped it over to the cover and just stared at it for a few minutes. It made me kind of scared.

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