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: Dead Until Dark

I started watching Showtime’s True Blood last year and really liked the first season, so I was curious to read the books the show is based on. A few people had recommended it to me. The first book, Dead Until Dark, is loosely what the first season of the show was based on.

It was regretful that I already knew most of the story before beginning the book because it’d be more suspenseful if I came to it with no knowledge at all. Despite that, I still enjoyed Dead Until Dark because it’s different enough from the show that it didn’t feel like I was just reading a synopsis. A few of the main characters have different personalities from their TV version and while the main plot of the book is reflected in the show, a few things go differently.

The books are like Pringles; once you start reading, it’s hard to stop. I downloaded the first book as an ebook because I wasn’t sure if I’d like the rest enough to buy the boxed set. I couldn’t stop reading. I read in the car. I read while walking to the car. I read while I was supposed to be playing video games. If I had found a way to read while running, I would have done that too. I finished the first book on Wednesday and immediately got the second and dove in.

Dead Until Dark isn’t high-brow literature by any means, but it’s a fun romp into the urban fantasy genre with a good mystery thrown in.  It’s every bit as graphic as the show is in the violence department, and maybe a notch steamier in the hot vampire sex department.  It’s a good read for anyone who’s a fan of the show or just urban fantasy in general.

Let the Right One In (novel)

I started reading Let the Right One In because I was curious about the parts of the story that were left out of the movie. There were issues which were only hinted at in the movie and I wondered if they were more spelled out in the book. They were.

It’s difficult to describe this book. It’s easy to say it’s a vampire book, but the vampire mythos is only part of the story. Isolation and helplessness are main the themes in the story; the author uses the vampire as a way to show a different form of isolation.

In the beginning, the book is hard to follow. Sections jump from one character to another and there isn’t always one consistent, omniscient narrator. As I read more and more of the story and the characters started to develop, it was easier to follow the jump from one character to another. Think of it as looking into a cross-section of a dollhouse; each room has something going on in it distinct from the next room, but they all tie in together in one house. That’s how each character’s story interacts with the others.

One of the quotations in the back of the book has someone calling Let the Right One In a horror story. It might be because I watched the movie first and knew the general plot, but I didn’t read it as a horror story at all. Yes, there is violence, and yes, there were parts that were uncomfortable to read, but I wasn’t ever terrified while I was reading it.

I can see people not liking this book. There are subjects people would rather not think or read about, and the characters all have some negative aspects or depravities to them. It’s hard to relate to any of them but at the same time, I wonder if it’s because we’re scared to relate to any of them.

I don’t really want to spoil the book or the movie for anyone reading this. Let the Right One In was one of my favorite movies this year and the book is also one of my favorites, but I can see it not being for everyone. If you’re in the mood for a different type of vampire book, it’s a good choice. I described the movie as a “coming of age vampire story,” but for some reason, that doesn’t really fit the book. Usually I’m disappointed by movie adaptations of books, but after reading the book, the movie actually followed the story very well, or at least as best it could. The main thing is that the movie had the same mood the book did, if that makes sense.