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The Passage  - Justin Cronin This is the most tedious apocalypse ever.

Despite a little bit of a slow start, I actually really enjoyed the first quarter of this. We’ve got a crazy military expedition to the jungles of Bolivia, scientists fucking shit up, and secret agent men kidnapping little girls from crazy nuns. Oh, and a mutant virus outbreak that kills everyone. Cool.

It goes downhill from there. Just as the novel is picking up steam, Cronin decides to jump ahead in time to a group of colonists going about their day-to-day nearly one hundred years after the apocalypse. BOR-ING. It wouldn’t be so bad except that the whole thing is so inconsistent. The major storyline is a good one, and there are definitely some exciting parts, but these are few and far between with hundreds of pages of nothing in the middle. Cronin splits the book into so many parts that it just feels all over the place. He sure likes to use commas, too – I thought I was bad, but some of his sentences go on for about half a page.

Cronin sprinkles in various epistolary bits which he probably thinks spice up the narrative, but are actually unbearably repetitive and bored me to tears. If you just spent a chapter describing things in real-time, you don’t then need to spend the next chapter describing these exact same events in italicized diary entries from the point of view of a minor character. It’s redundant. There also seemed to be very little dialogue throughout the book, and when there was dialogue Cronin threw in the worst future slang I’ve read since Feed -- and I actually liked that book. “Flyers”? Seriously? And what’s with calling babies and kids “Littles”? With a capital L? Also dumb.

My biggest problem with this book has to do with the characters. There are about 500 major characters, and most of them are never given any descriptive traits or identifiers, preventing me from picturing them in my head and keeping them all straight. Every time a character was mentioned, it took me about 5 minutes to figure out, “Oh, that’s the one who is in love with that other chick whose brother killed that one dude 200 pages ago”. This seriously disrupted my reading, as you can imagine. Furthermore, none of the characters are really fleshed out due to there being so many of them. Cronin seems to have tried to make the characters “real” by making them flawed, but most of the characters are made up entirely of flaws and have no redeeming factors. The whole story is ostensibly about Amy, but we’re never even told anything about her –and not in an “oh, she is a mysterious enigma!” way, but in a “why should I even care?” way.

I kept hoping this book would redeem itself in the end, but the ending sucked too. It just kind of... stopped. Actually I think there was a decent ending in there, but then Cronin kept writing for another hundred pages. Oh well. I hear this is supposed to be a trilogy, but I won’t be picking up the others.