Date: Tuesday, January 19, 4:42 pm
Subject: The Passage
I was just writing to tell you about a book I read these holidays, called The Passage. It's by Justin Cronin, an American author, and is the first in a trilogy of science fiction novels set in an alternate version of America. The Passage brings together the stories of Amy Bellafonte, a young girl brought up by a single mother in unfortunate circumstances, Dr. Jonas Lear, a scientist who believes in fairy tales, Special Agent Bradford Wolgast, who is working for a deep cover government agency, Anthony Carter, a death row inmate who doesn't know how he got there, and Peter Jaxon, who guards his home from something that cannot be stopped
Cronin spins a web of words that is impossible to resist getting entangled in and is a pleasure to untangle as the story unfolds. This book kept me turning the pages for its entirety, as it simultaneously deals with the pains, joys and struggles of being human and the battles of a dying world, spanning both space and time on an epic scale. The Passage is one of those novels that I stay up late to read and then cannot stop raving about.
I believe you're a fan of such books as The Hunger Games, The Illuminae Files Series and the Divergent Trilogy as well as the Lord of the Rings and Earthsea? If I'm right, then you should put The Passage near the top of your reading list. All these series capture the same haunting feeling of a warped reality, particularly the latter three, which are each set in their own version of a dystopian future. The Passage incorporates hints of fantasy, thriller and suspense into its plot and style, making it appealing to a broad range of readers, including you, if my knowledge of your taste in accurate.
The general mood of the novel is eerie yet beautiful, embodying the essence of a forest at night. This feeling is aided by exerts from novels and poems by such authors as Shakespeare, Henry Vaughan and Sir Walter Raleigh. As well as quotes, the texts format varies, which I found kept it fresh and engaging. The quote below in particular seems to capture the mood of the novel.
"Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory;
Odors, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the beloved's bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art goe,
Love itself shall slumber on" (Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Music, When Soft Voices Die").
I would suggest not recommending this novel to readers below the age of thirteen, as it contains some mature themes, sexual references and violence.
This novel can be relatable to a most readers, including teens like me and you, as it retells universal themes of humanity and circulates between a large cast of characters each varying in age, gender and circumstances. This novel is also startlingly relevant in the light of 2020 as it tells the tale of a country ravaged by a pandemic. Although it can be disturbingly realistic at times, I read this novel as an escapist story, and it's ethereal qualities make it feel as though you are in an entirely different world.
The way this novel explores themes of family, friendship, love, loss, war, religion, ethics and, most importantly, what it is to be human, is both haunting and effective. This novel made me reflect on some of the humanities deepest intricacies, and provoked a lot of questions. It certainly provided plenty of food for thought. I found this novel to leave a lasting impression and to be well worth the read.
"Though most of the sisters prayed in the little chapel behind the kitchen, and Lacey did this too, she reserved her most earnest, searching prayers for this time alone in her room, not even kneeling but sitting at her desk or on the corner of her narrow bed. She'd put her hands in her lap, close her eyes, and send her mind out as far as she could - since childhood, she had imagined it as a kite on a string, lifting higher as she let the line out - and waited to see what happened. Now, sitting on her bed, she sent the kite as high as she dared, the imaginary ball of string getting smaller in her hand, the kite itself just a speck of color far above her head, but all she felt was the wind of heaven pushing against it, a force of great power against a thing so small. (Justin Cronin, 2010, p. 61)