by Justin Cronin
Review by Harriet Klausner
Ballantine Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345504968
Date: 08 June 2010 List Price $26.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In the near future, America's global war on terrorism like America's global war on drugs before it, has proven itself to be a losing proposition as each time a cell is seemingly destroyed it morphs into a new unit and more cells are created like spreading cancer. The son of Hurricane Katrina has turned New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf into a toxic wasteland, not that anyone truly cared beyond the horror commentary.
America needs a miracle to remain a superpower or like previous empires it will become an dry entry in future history books. Turning to scientists to save the day, they find deep in the Amazon rainforest a virus that incredibly turns ordinary humans into supermen and women.
However, these super-soldiers injected with the virus are not Captain America clones, but instead are blood-sucking super-killers dining on humans. As the United States falls back into a tactic of warehousing of people for their own good inside enclaves. America and the world need a superhero. Human extinction being a real possibility, a heroine emerges. Seven years ago, then six years old, Amy Harper Bellafonte was left behind by her mom (dad unknown) to a commune of nuns. Now she is the last hope as places like The Colony survive behind technological defenses that are failing and soon they will be fodder for the super monsters.
This is a throwback horror thriller that extrapolates modern technology into the near future while leaving the reader with a sense that these touchy-feely vampires touch and feel to suck blood only. Well written, the atmosphere owns the story line with New Orleans a dead zone, viral bats attacking humans with precision and of course the super monsters. On top of that is the shrinking human presence locked behind gated communities where the barriers are falling part. Thus in some ways The Passage is a cautionary tale that warns people that doing nothing is not a viable option and depending on science and technology alone is also not a viable option to solving major global problems.
The cast is fascinating as the John Wayne cavalry to the rescue is a reticent young girl who does not want the heroine mantle thrown on her small shoulders. She is aided by the overly used mentally bone marrow weary disenchanted Fed who could have used the X-Files energy. She makes a wonderful heroine because before the pandemic disaster she would have been ignored by society. On the one hand, her enemy is monsters who are victims too as they were turned into red meat bloodsuckers by am arrogant government blunder. Readers who appreciate a Stoker-King style let-them-drink-human-blood-from-the-neck vampires as opposed to a Meyer type of let them drink-from-a-blood-bank vampires will enjoy Justin Cronin's dark The Passage as the world we know has turned viral red.