The Passage: A Novel

by Justin Cronin

Essentially, this book is about a virus that has been discovered that can be used to avoid death, however it causes its victims to become creatures very similar to vampires. This virus is being administered to death row inmates in exchange for a life sentence in addition to other people, who are seen to be prime candidates for the refined virus as well such as Amy Bellafonte. Amy is a young girl who was the daughter of this woman Jeanette, who had to become a prostitute in order to support Amy after Amy's father had left. After things became more dangerous Jeanette left Amy to live with Nuns in order to keep her safe. After that, Amy had been abducted while in the custody of Sister Lacey Antoinette Kudoto, who had a strong connection with Amy. While they were at the zoo, She was seen having a strange connection with the animals which recruiters thought was an excellent trait, so they took her to be a recipient of the virus.

Important Characters

  • Amy Harper Bellafonte - a six year old girl is, I feel, one of the most important, if not the most important character of the novel. This is the 13th character to get the virus and she takes the virus much differently than all the rest of the test subjects and does not develop all the vampire-like traits. Amy is undoubtedly the protagonist of the story as she continued to defy the stereotypical behavior that is seen among the "virals" and she still possessed morals. However throughout the novel there is a subliminal conflict between Amy and life in general. I feel that Amy has no real grasp on life considering her age, and as she lives with this disease she will face problems that may not have ever come to light if not for here virus. For example on page 166 she says to Brad, "are we still going to the doctor?" which exemplifies how much more complicated her life had become after being kidnapped. She would not have needed to be brought around to all these different places if she would have been in the convent still or better yet with her mother. At this point Amy accepts this as her reality and is too young to fully understand the situation so internally, subconsciously she will never understand the unnecessary complication from this virus.
  • Brad Wolgast - another very important character, Wolgast is the federal agent who is tasked with recruiting test subjects from death-row to be given the virus. Brad Wolgast can be characterized as impetuous to a certain extent as he frequently gets close to many of the other characters in a short amount of time. This can directly be seen in his relationship with Amy. When he abandons the mission in his efforts to escape with Amy, it is likely that it stems from the death of his infant daughter Eva. Whatever the case may be, his decisions can be considered rash, and underdeveloped but somehow he still has the will power to make them work.

Themes

There are many important themes that can be found within the novel such as, mortality. As the essential basis of the story, Mortality plays a big role in the plot. The inciting incident in the novel can be considered the search by Professor Jonas Lear to find the solution to dying. After this particular incident, although unintentional, Lear changes the concept of mortality for the remainder of the novel. After refining the virus developed after his trip to the Bolivian jungles and administering it to his criminal test subjects, they of course escaped their quarantine in Colorado and caused the disease to spread. Hundreds of thousands now immortal or dead because of this infectious burden. In the end, the development of mortality can be seen throughout the story as characters like Amy struggle to remain true to humanity as mortality is such a major part of being human.
The Passage - book trailer

Excellent Book

I would like to first start out by saying that I really enjoyed this novel. The way that Cronin develops the story is quite interesting and it continued to engage me throughout the book. The way it is written is like there are multiple separate stories which consist of different main characters and even different genres that come together in the end. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in science fiction but also a bit of horror. The format of the book, specifically the second chapter, was very unique as in the second chapter the story is told in an email conversation when discussing the progression of these people who were terminally ill and had been exposed to a disease that caused them to survive. This type of writing was a very intriguing, and uncommon form that I felt differentiates this novel from so many others.