Twilight for Men… damn it! (A book review of The Passage)

Wisps of smoke, that is what dreams are… you reach out to remember them after you awaken and they dissolve in your hands… shifting and changing. You think you have the dream remembered… then gone… no substance. Early in the week I awoke feeling like I had just experienced a nightmare. It wasn’t a boogeyman or monster nightmare, it didn’t even seem like anxiety type nightmare… no nude lecturing in front of students type anxiety. This one was subtle, it was about a tiled room and shower followed by a quick snapshot of a dream memory of a dog in a cage. The dog and shower by themselves didn’t seem nightmarish or evil… it was the disturbed feeling I awakened to that threw me for a loop. As I walked to work that morning… summer sun beating down on me… the dream memories seemed to recede further back into my consciousness… as if the sun’s rays pushed it back into the earthen dark of my mind. A nightmare can be a Dracula, avoiding the waking hours of day, to return once night has fallen and the mind is unprotected from the day’s warmth.

Dreams are an important part of Justin Cronin’s The Passage. Dreams drive the characters to act and react to the world. Dreams are a vehicle that allows characters and readers to understand why things happen as they do. Dreams are a big part of this book… this book is big… 1,342 pages big. It is part of a trilogy… a damn vampire trilogy. I didn’t know it was about vampires and I didn’t know it was a trilogy when I started reading it.

I started reading the book on a friend’s recommendation… I bought it on Kindle… I didn’t notice page numbers. After a few days of reading, I noticed that the percent of book completed was a low 20%… shit this book must be big… I never went to see how big a book this was until I started writing this review. It’s a damn big book. The friend didn’t say it was big. The friend didn’t say it was a trilogy… the friend didn’t say it was a vampire trilogy. These realizations that flowed out of the book and into me is what gave me a dawning idea that I was reading an epic… about fucking vampires.

Its two parts… one is present day and the typical government/military experiment gone wrong. Then there is an almost 100 year jump in time that describes the new world following the evil (vampires) that was released by the U.S. government. The two parts are connected by a single character that travels through both parts… yeah, a sort of character that is neither living nor dead. Imagine Ann Rice’s vampires beginning today and moving forward… instead of vampires from history moving forward into our time.

No spoiler alert… but man releases a vampire virus on the world… the world is nearly destroyed… survivors do what they must… the book ends and then I realized the story wasn’t over. The read is pleasurable… the story engaging… the idea mesmerizing… you crave more. A more educated reader would have been aware of what they were embarking on… I stumbled into the story… I hate myself for enjoying it.

I haven’t read any Twilight books… no clue what they are really about other than vampires and young girl love. The Passage is also vampires and love and girls and dealing with the actions of imperfect characters. It is not romantic though, it is more digression into the actions of people affected by time and place… affected by a world gone fucking mad, yet it is also a world that has evolved due the actions of time. Biblical symbolism echo through the book like crazy… just like Stephen King’s The Stand… this is a story of traveling and a battle between good and evil. This is a story about how ambiguity, forgiveness, and human emotion are shown not only through actions but through the dreams of characters. The violence and blood are very male like… the pure fear and danger makes me think that the only facts of being about vampires and being a trilogy are what connect it to Twilight.

My dreams are never easily remembered. The tiled room with its single shower are easily remembered… the large collie in the cage are pictured in my mind’s eye. I have no idea what either one represents or means… I have no idea how either one is connected to the other but I know they were in the same dream. This dream followed the evening of me finishing The Passage. There were no vampires in my dream… no blood craving… no crazy world where I am forced to traverse a landscape that is familiar, yet foreboding. My dream left me disturbed though… my dream left me wondering… considering what lay ahead… worse yet, what lay beneath my conscious mind. The Passage is like this dream… it disturbed me, it left me wondering… it left me grateful for daylight. I just wish I had known it when I embarked on this Twilight like saga. I can forgive my mind for dreaming, I can’t forgive it for not looking before it jumped into the saga with some sort of idea how long the passage would be from beginning to end.

Read it, but you have been warned.


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