So, this series apparently got a lot of hype when the first book, The Passage, first came out. I was, presumably, living under a rock at the time, and so hadn’t heard of it. In fact, I didn’t really hear about the series until the final book came out, at which point I decided to read them all.
And, well, the first half of the first book was great, the second half was good. The second book was okay, verging on bad and the third book was solidly okay if a little too made-for-Hollywood for me. So, I figure the series averages out as “okay.” And it was okay, but I have questions.
Briefly, the trilogy is about a “vampire virus” discovered by a heartbroken doctor and the U.S. military. The vampires created with the virus escape because, well, duh, and proceed to kill 9 out of every 10 people they get their claws on. In addition to the 12 vampires created by the virus, there is also a patient Zero who was infected at the source, and a girl named Amy, who was last to be “created” in the lab. The books span from the infection of patient Zero to about 1000 A.V (after virus), following the adventures (?) of Zero, Amy and various gutsy bands of survivors and connivers.
The first book, The Passage, was easily my favorite of the three. The concept that vampires are real, or at least were at different points in history, and existed due to a virus, was very interesting. And the idea that the U.S. military might want to take that virus and manipulate it to create soldiers of amazing speed and strength that were also able to heal themselves made a lot of sense. And I could even see the military thinking it was a good idea to experiment on convicts while perfecting the virus. But, even with this book, I had questions.
- Why infect the orphan, Amy? This was never satisfactorily answered for me.
- Why was a transformed Amy different than the convicts? How did the virus differ for her? Or was it just that she was different?
- How was the First Colony created so quickly? I believe the book said it took a mere 32 hours for the virals to sweep across America, but somehow they were able to create a defensible fortress and move children all the way from Philly there?
- Why Philadelphia? The First Colony is in California (I think); wouldn’t they have been able to save more people if they weren’t taking trainloads from the East Coast?
- Who saved Theo and Maus?
- What the hell is the Passage?
The second book, The Twelve, starts a few years (5 maybe) after the first book ends. It continues to follow the adventures of the young adults from First Colony who went with Amy (who is, at this point like 110 but looks 18 or so) back to the lab to defeat one of The Twelve. They continue to fight the remaining 11 and their Many (everyone they’ve turned), culminating in a cataclysmic final showdown. This book also expands upon the idea of the Familiars for each of the Twelve, and show what life is like for survivors in Iowa (terrible) and Texas (okay, I guess). This book kind of went off the rails for me, going from sci-fi (vampire virus) to quasi-religious in way that didn’t honestly make sense. And again, I had questions.
- So, Theo’s brother, Peter saved Theo and Maus because he exists in this time and all times? Can I get a better explanation for this nonsense?
- WHAT IS THE PASSAGE?
- How come Amy finally turned? What was the point of “making” Amy if she eventually turns into the same clawed, razor-toothed monster as the other virals?
- What, exactly, is Alicia? She was bitten, but then was given a vaccine to make her like Amy, but isn’t like Amy?
By the final book, The City of Mirrors, the Twelve and all of their Many are dead (sort of). Amy is also dead, or at least missing (sort of), and our band of merry misfits has been disbanded and moved on to pursuits other than vampire fighting. Peter is President of Texas, Michael is building an ark, Lore is mad at Peter, Caleb is married with children, Alicia has run off for “reasons,” and Sarah and Hollis are still together. As it’s been years since a viral has been seen, humans dare to venture outside the walls. And then it all goes to hell because it seems they forgot about Zero and his Many. Which is not great, Bob, because, as it turns out, Zero hates everyone and everything because he was deprived of love or something weak like that. So, then, there is yet another final battle, this time in NYC because you’re not allowed to have final battles anywhere else. And then the book jumps like 900 years and it’s confusing and nonsensical and leaves the reader with lots of, well, questions.
- Everyone goes to heaven then? Or some version of it? Even if you murder innocent co-eds?
- The US suffered for an enhanced version of a bat-carried virus, but the rest of the world was wiped out by a bird version? What?
- For the love, does water kill virals or not?
- Why, again, did we jump forward 900 years?
- Why and how is the world 1000 years after the virus basically exactly the same as the world on the eve of the virus?
- Peter “survived” because love? Really?
- Why does Fanning look just like “traditional” Dracula (pale, widow’s peak, fangs)? Because of water? What the actual hell?
- WHAT IS THE PASSAGE?
I had a lot of hope for this series after reading the first book. The first half was like nothing I’d ever read and even though it jumped a hundred years to entirely new characters in the second half, I was still excited to read the rest of the trilogy. The second book was a lot weaker for me; in fact, in sometimes seems as though it were written by an entirely different author. It was okay, but definitely more “post-apocalypse” (lots of wandering through barren America on foot) than “vampire-apocalypse.” The third book spent a lot of time trying to explain why, exactly, Zero was such a jerk and, frankly, didn’t make much of a case. And there was also a lot of the quasi-religious mysticism from the second book. It was just as confusing in both books.
All in all, I’d give the series a solid 3 stars. The first book was 4.5 stars for me, the second 2.5 and the third was 3. I was definitely disappointed that they didn’t maintain the promise of The Passage, but they’re probably still worth the read.