The New "Stand"?: I love a good, old-fashioned, giant
end-of-the-world novel. You know what I mean: a massive doorstop like Stephen
King's "The Stand" or Robert McCammon's "Swan Song," in which some sort of
cataclysm wipes out most of humanity and the survivors usually wind ... moreup fighting
to hang on against some new evil released in the wake of the disaster. There's
plenty of postapocalyptic literature around, but recent books like "The Road"
are smaller, more self-contained, and focused on just a few characters instead
of a wider view of humanity's remnants.
Well, Justin Cronin is here to change all that. His new novel, "The Passage,"
which arrived in stores on Tuesday, sounds exactly like what I'm talking a
mammoth, nearly 800-page tome set in the near future and following the outbreak
of a nasty government virus that wipes out a whole lot of people and turns many
more into vampire-like creatures called "virals." No sexy bloodsuckers or
angst-ridden teen twilighters here; these things are monsters. With civilization
in ruins around them, it's up to a former FBI agent and a little girl who was
part of the experiment to undertake a quest across the miles and years to set
No less an authority than King himself called the novel "your basic
don't-miss reading experience" and named it one of the best books of 2009 even
though it hadn't come out yet.
I don't mean to sound like a commercial (and I'm not; I preordered and paid
for my copy, which I'm eagerly awaiting), but I've been hungry for epic,
postapocalyptic sci-fi/horror stories recently, and this sounds like it will fit
the bill. Early reviews have been impressive as well, so let's hope "The
Passage," which Cronin says is the first of a trilogy, lives up to the hype.
It's in bookstores now. A special limited edition is already sold out, but you
can read about that and more about the book itself here.