This year marks my sixth Cannonball, and yet, somehow, this is the only book in The Passage trilogy that I’ve reviewed. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but I imagine it can be blamed on babies and whatnot.
I loved the first book, The Passage. I thought it was exciting and original, and I was name dropping Justin Cronin left and right. He was going to be the next Stephen King, and this trilogy was going to be his version of The Stand.
You haven’t read The Passage? OK. Well. Its the story of what happens to society after a vampiric virus being tested on convicts (the government was trying to create some sort of SUPER SOLDIER) goes haywire, vampires exist, society crumbles, etc. Except that there is one girl, Amy, who is immune to the virus and becomes known as THE GIRL WHO LIVED. The story jumps ahead almost 100 years to focus on a colony in California that was created by the government to help humankind to continue to exist. The kids who live there eventually meet up with Amy, go on a huge road trip, kill lots of vampires, and start to figure out just why their world is the way that it is.
It was really great.
And then, a few years later, Cronin released The Twelve. It had some great parts, but didn’t live up to the standards (MY STANDARDS) of the first. Our heroes from the first book continue to wage war against the head vampires (aka THE TWELVE), with Amy on their side. Some of the stories were amazing — I really loved reading about Lila and her absolute refusal to see that society has come to an end. The world is pretty much over and she’s in Home Depot picking out paint for a baby’s nursery.
The Twelve was good, but to be honest, I kind of forgot about it and was seriously shocked when I saw City of Mirrors at the library. It totally just slipped my mind that a third book was coming.
And I pretty much feel the same way about the third book as I did the second. It had some really interesting parts, but it didn’t hold up to the amazing power of the first book.
There were two things I really loved.
First, Cronin chose to advance the story about 20 years. So that all of our heroes and main characters were now about 50 years old, which is not a common occurrence in an action-type story. They were no longer young and in terrific shape, they weren’t as fast as they once were, and they had become comfortable in their lives. They were parents and grandparents now, not just soldiers and medics and technicians. I loved this narrative decision by Cronin.
Second, my absolute favorite part of the book was the small novella (I read it on a kindle, so its hard to say how long it was…maybe 150 pages?) stuck right in the middle. It told the story of Tim Fanning (AKA Patient Zero, and father figure of THE TWELVE) and his college roommate at Harvard, Jonas Lear. Tim falls in love with Jonas’ girlfriend, which changes his life forever. Decades after college, Jonas is the one who convinces Tim to come with him to the jungle and help to research the mysterious virus that’s been discovered.
I could have read this bizarre story of love and jealousy for another 100 pages.
The rest of the story just wasn’t as strong for me. I was glad to see Amy and Carter working together to defeat the virals, but that simply ended up as a ton of build-up with very little result. I also appreciated the action sequences, but have to complain that it took HUNDREDS of pages before anything happened here.
Here’s what I hated:
Everything that happened with Peter in the last hundred pages or so was just so so so so stupid. I hated him turning viral at the 11th hour, and yet still loving Amy in his weird, viral way. And why did he die as a viral? Could they die of old age? This didn’t get explained at any point and just pissed me off. This whole plot annoyed me so much that I almost didn’t care about finishing.
I think if I hadn’t adored The Passage, then I wouldn’t have been as “meh” about this book. It was pretty good, it just wasn’t great.