Cover image for The passage [compact disc] : a novel / Justin Cronin.
Title:
The passage [compact disc] : a novel / Justin Cronin.
ISBN:
9780449806944
Publication Information:
New York : Random House Audio, p2010.
Physical Description:
12 sound discs (14 1/2 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
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Abridged.

Compact discs.
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Abstract:
The latest test subject in a covert government experiment, abandoned six-year-old Amy is rescued by an FBI agent who hides them in the Oregon hills, from which Amy emerges a century later to save the human race from a terrifying virus.
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Summary

Summary

It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born. First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear--of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.


Summary

"It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born."  

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear--of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he's done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey--spanning miles and decades--towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

With The Passage , award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterful prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.


Author Notes

Justin Cronin is a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, and a professor of creative writing at La Salle University in Philadelphia. His work has appeared in many literary journals.

(Publisher Provided) Justin Cronin was born and raised in New England. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has written several books including The Summer Guest, The Passage Trilogy, and Mary and O'Neil, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Stephen Crane Prize. He taught creative writing and was the author in-residence at La Salle University from 1992 to 2005. He is currently a professor of English at Rice University.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Fans of vampire fiction who are bored by the endless hordes of sensitive, misunderstood Byronesque bloodsuckers will revel in Cronin's engrossingly horrific account of a post-apocalyptic America overrun by the gruesome reality behind the wish-fulfillment fantasies. When a secret project to create a super-soldier backfires, a virus leads to a plague of vampiric revenants that wipes out most of the population. One of the few bands of survivors is the Colony, a FEMA-established island of safety bunkered behind massive banks of lights that repel the "virals," or "dracs"-but a small group realizes that the aging technological defenses will soon fail. When members of the Colony find a young girl, Amy, living outside their enclave, they realize that Amy shares the virals' agelessness, but not the virals' mindless hunger, and they embark on a search to find answers to her condition. PEN/Hemingway Award-winner Cronin (The Summer Guest ) uses a number of tropes that may be overly familiar to genre fans, but he manages to engage the reader with a sweeping epic style. The first of a proposed trilogy, it's already under development by director Ripley Scott and the subject of much publicity buzz (Retail Nation, Mar. 15). (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


New York Review of Books Review

AS Justin Cronin clearly knows, if you're a writer seeking to slough off highbrow pretensions - to reject your early efforts at "quiet" fiction and write something with commercial appeal, something that will, if not conquer the critics, at least pay for your kid's college education - you'd be wise to opt for a vampire novel. The genre has proved so indomitable that it's a wonder the Balkan underclass, whose age-old folk tales began it all, hasn't started to request royalties. Cronin is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and his first two books, "Mary and O' Neil" and "The Summer Guest," were literary explorations of life's quotidian challenges. His new one, "The Passage," is a 766-page doorstop, a dystopian epic that's the first installment in a projected vampire trilogy. Ballantine Books bought the lot for over $3 million, and the film rights to the novel sold before the book was completed. If there's a class at Iowa on exploiting publishing crazes, Cronin surely aced it. And in many respects, he has delivered the promised blockbuster. While it relies at times on convention, "The Passage" is astutely plotted and imaginative enough to satisfy the most bloodthirsty reader. It opens in 2018, as America is engaged in nonstop warfare, terrorists are attacking us at home, and a gallon of gas costs $13. In a secret project, the military has employed the research of a Harvard microbiologist in hopes of engineering a race of superbeings who can master any skill in minutes and whose wounds heal almost instantaneously. Of course, the project backfires, and once these "virals" - vampires - are unleashed into the world, the human race is rapidly brought to near-extinction. The mutants are fast, hungry and unforgiving. They kill and they recruit. Fast-forward nearly a hundred years: 94 people survive in a heavily fortified colony, kept safe from North America's 42.5 million vampires by a system that eliminates the night. When the community realizes that the power source maintaining its dusk-to-dawn illumination will soon die, a renegade band ventures out into a world it knows very little about. (Not one of them, for example, has ever seen the stars.) Their quest to recharge the colony's batteries is elevated to a hope to reclaim the world after they chance upon a peculiar girl who can communicate with the vampires and who, like them, appears ageless. Unlike them, she's on the humans' side. Cronin leaps back and forth in time, sprinkling his narrative with diaries, e-mail messages, maps, newspaper articles and legal documents. Sustaining such a long book is a tough endeavor, and every so often his prose slackens into inert phrases ("his mind would be tumbling like a dryer"). For the most part, though, he artfully unspools his plot's complexities, and seemingly superfluous details come to connect in remarkable ways. Not surprisingly, the story is infused with biblical undertones. The military calls its experiment Project Noah, intending its creations to live for 950 years; the original test subjects were 12 in number, just like Jesus' apostles. "The Passage," then, is fundamentally an investigation into the creation and destruction of a flawed race. And the characters' inquiries have a sophisticated ambiguity: they ask about destiny and God ("Looking at the stars from the station roof, he'd felt something - a presence behind them, their vast immensity") and debate the reasons for persisting in a seemingly forsaken world. "The Passage" doesn't so much end as pause, a caesura before the second book. In this first installment, Cronin shows us enough of the future to suggest that life on earth may eventually return to normal. Whether the writing-school alumnus will ever return to more subtle fare is a trickier question. "God invented Iowa," he writes early on, "so people could leave it and never come back." Mike Peed is on the editorial staff of The New Yorker.


Library Journal Review

Wow! Nearly 40 hours in length, the unabridged audio recording of PEN/Hemingway Award-winning writer Cronin's detail-rich third novel is nothing short of epic excellence. The first entry in a new trilogy, the book is set in a bleak, postapocalyptic America at a time when the world is overrun by vampire-like humans infected by a virus. Divided into two huge parts-pre- and postoutbreak-the tale is equally gripping and frightening and the characters are very well developed. To boot, Audie Award winner Scott Brick's (see Behind the Mike, LJ 10/15/09) narration is nothing short of masterly. Impossible to stop listening to; highly recommended. [The New York Times best-selling Ballantine hc was an Editors' Spring Pick, LJ 2/15/10; a film adaptation is currently in production.-Ed.]-Scott R. DiMarco, Mansfield Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Wolgast had been to the Compound only once, the previous summer, to meet with Colonel Sykes.  Not a job interview, exactly; it had been made clear to Wolgast that the assignment was his if he wanted it.  A pair of soldiers drove him in a van with blacked out windows, but Wolgast could tell they were taking him west from Denver, into the mountains.   The drive took six hours, and by the time they pulled into the Compound, he'd actually managed to fall asleep.  He stepped from the van into the bright sunshine of a summer afternoon.  He stretched and looked around.   From the topography, he'd have guessed he was somewhere around Telluride.  It could have been further north.  The air felt thin and clean in his lungs; he felt the dull throb of a high-altitude headache at the top of his skull.  He was met in the parking lot by a civilian, a compact man dressed in jeans and a khaki shirt rolled at the sleeves, a pair of old-fashioned aviators perched on his wide, faintly bulbous nose.  This was Richards.   "Hope the ride wasn't too bad," Richards said as they shook hands.   Up close Wolgast saw that Richards' cheeks were pockmarked with old acne scars.  "We're pretty high up here.  If you're not used to it, you'll want to take it easy." Richards escorted Wolgast across the parking area to a building he called the Chalet, which was exactly what it sounded like: a large Tudor structure, three stories tall, with the exposed timbers of an old-fashioned sportsman's lodge.  The mountains had once been full of these places, Wolgast knew, hulking relics from an era before time-share condos and modern resorts.  The building faced an open lawn, and beyond, at a hundred yards or so, a cluster of more workaday structures: cinderblock barracks, a half-dozen military inflatables, a low-slung building that resembled a roadside motel.  Military vehicles, Humvees and smaller jeeps and five ton trucks, were moving up and down the drive; in the center of the lawn, a group of men with broad chests and trim haircuts, naked to the waist, were sunning themselves on lawn chairs.   Stepping into the Chalet, Wolgast had the disorienting sensation of peeking behind a movie set; the place had been gutted to the studs, its original architecture replaced by the neutral textures of a modern office building: gray carpeting, institutional lighting, acoustic tile drop ceilings.  He might have been in a dentist's office, or the high-rise off the freeway where he met his accountant once a year to do his taxes.  They stopped at the front desk, where Richards asked him to turn over his handheld and his weapon, which he passed to the guard, a kid in cammos, who tagged them. There was an elevator, but Richards walked past it and led Wolgast down a narrow hallway to a heavy metal door that opened on a flight of stairs.  They ascended to the second floor, and made their way down another non-descript hallway to Sykes' office.  Sykes rose from behind his desk as they entered: a tall, well-built man in uniform, his chest spangled with the various bars and little bits of color that Wolgast had never understood.  His office was neat as a pin, its arrangement of objects, right down to the framed photos on his desk, giving the impression of having been placed for maximum efficiency.   Resting in the center of the desk was a single manila folder, fat with folded paper.  Wolgast knew it was almost certainly his personnel file, or some version of it.   They shook hands and Sykes offered him coffee, which Wolgast accepted.  He wasn't drowsy but the caffeine, he knew, would help the headache.   "Sorry about the bullshit with the van," Sykes said, and waved him to a chair.  "That's just how we do things." A soldier brought in the coffee, a plastic carafe and two china cups on a tray.  Richards remained standing behind Sykes' desk, his back to the broad windows that looked out on the woodlands that ringed the Compound.  Sykes explained what he wanted Wolgast to do.  It was all quite straight forward, he said, and by now Wolgast knew the basics.  The Army needed between ten and twenty death-row inmates to serve in the third-stage trials of an experimental drug therapy, codenamed Project Noah.   In exchange for their consent, these men would have their sentences commuted to life without parole.  It would be Wolgast's job to obtain the signatures of these men, nothing more.  Everything had been legally vetted, but because the project was a matter of national security, all of these men would be declared legally dead.  Thereafter, they would spend the rest of their lives in the care of the federal penal system, a white-collar prison camp, under assumed identities.  The men would be chosen based upon a number of factors, but all would be men between the ages of twenty and thirty-five with no living first-degree relatives.  Wolgast would report directly to Sykes; he'd have no other contact, though he'd remain, technically, in the employment of the Bureau.   "Do I have to pick them?"  Wolgast asked. Sykes shook his head.  "That's our job.  You'll get your orders from me.  All you have to do is get their consent.  Once they're signed on, the Army will take it from there.  They'll be moved to the nearest federal lock-up, then we'll transport them here." Wolgast thought a moment.   "Colonel, I have to ask--" "What we're doing?"  He seemed, at that moment, to permit himself an almost human-looking smile. Wolgast nodded.  "I understand I can't be very specific.  But I'm going to be asking them to sign over their whole lives.  I have to tell them something." Sykes exchanged a look with Richards, who shrugged.  "I'll leave you now," Richards said, and nodded at Wolgast.  "Agent."  When Richards had left, Sykes leaned back in his chair.  "I'm not a biochemist, agent.  You'll have to be satisfied with the layman's version.  Here's the background, at least the part I can tell you. About ten years ago, the CDC got a call from a doctor in La Paz.  He had four patients, all Americans, who had come down with what looked like Hantavirus -- high fever, vomiting, muscle pain, headache, hypoxemia.  The four of them had been part of an eco-tour, deep in the jungle.  They claimed that they were part of a group of fourteen but had gotten separated from the others and had been wandering in the jungle for weeks.  It was sheer luck that they'd stumbled onto a remote trading post run by a bunch of Franciscan friars, who arranged their transport to La Paz.  Now, Hanta isn't the common cold, but it's not exactly rare, either, so none of this would have been more than a blip on the CDC's radar if not for one thing.  All of them were terminal cancer patients.  The tour was organized by an organization called 'Last Wish.'  You've heard of them?" Wolgast nodded.  "I thought they just took people skydiving, things like that."  "That's what I thought, too.  But apparently not.  Of the four, one had an inoperable brain tumor, two had acute lymphocytic leukemia, and the fourth had ovarian cancer.  And every single one of them became well.  Not just the Hanta, or whatever it was.  No cancer.  Not a trace." Wolgast felt lost.   "I don't get it." Sykes sipped his coffee.  "Well, neither did anyone at the CDC.   But something had happened, some interaction between their immune systems and something, most likely viral, that they'd been exposed to in the jungle.  Something they ate?  The water they drank?   No one could figure it out.  They couldn't even say exactly where they'd been."  He leaned forward over his desk.  "Do you know what the thymus gland is?" Wolgast shook his head. Sykes pointed at his chest, just above the breastbone.  "Little thing in here, between the sternum and the trachea, about the size of an acorn.  In most people, it's atrophied completely by puberty, and you could go your whole life not knowing you had one, unless it was diseased.  Nobody really knows what it does, or at least they didn't, until they ran scans on these four patients.  The thymus had somehow turned itself back on.  More than back on: it had enlarged to three times its usual size.  It looked like a malignancy but it wasn't.  And their immune systems had gone into overdrive.  A hugely accelerated rate of cellular regeneration.  And there were other benefits.  Remember these were cancer patients, all over fifty.  It was like they were teenagers again.  Smell, hearing, vision, skin tone, lung volume, physical strength and endurance, even sexual function.  One of the men actually grew back a full head of hair." "A virus did this?' Sykes nodded.  "Like I said, this is the layman's version.  But I've got people downstairs who think that's exactly what happened.  Some of them have degrees in subjects I can't even spell.  They talk to me like I'm a child, and they're not wrong." "What happened to them?  The four patients." Sykes leaned back in his chair, his face darkening a little. Excerpted from The Passage by Justin Cronin All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.