Monday, October 10, 2011

Audiobook Review: The Passage by Justin Cronin

I was excited to find The Passage by Justin Cronin on CD. So excited that I listened to the whole thing before I realized this is an abridged version. Then I decided the abridged version is a good thing.

Genre: Science fiction, horror
Series: The Passage, book 1
Length: 14h 30m - abridged
Audio publisher: Random House Audio, 2010
Read by: Edward Herrmann
From: Local library

Recap: A previously unknown virus is found deep in the jungle of Bolivia. The US military believes the virus can be used to improve the human condition, but strange things are happening in the top secret base where the experiments are performed. The virus seems to have unexpected side effects....

ReviewThe Passage is my kind of horror story: a virus, super secret experiments, things going horribly awry. I love dystopias but had seen the word "vampire" attached to this book, so I was skeptical. To my relief, there are no magnetic, brooding men in capes. Some may call the infected people "vampires," but the virals are inhuman, wild, and very, very scary. That's more like it.

The Passage starts by following several point-of-view characters, but the story is primarily about Amy, a lost little girl with a difficult life, as she is pulled from one place to another. Following her as she grows up, we are provided with additional information on the virus, the experiments, and the people involved. I really enjoyed the depth of detail given for each character. Not only do we learn their backgrounds, but we find out what specifically led them to their current situations. I especially appreciated that none of the characters are perfect. Everyone has their flaws. These flaws define them, and they tend to show up at the least opportune times.

With so many characters and points-of-view, the story was a little hard to follow at first. It starts slowly, but as the threads entwine, the tension builds, and things get interesting. Be warned that the book is divided into two parts. It was jarring to go over this break and have to meet a new group of people on the other side, but the story eventually smoothed itself out. It's survival of the fittest, but it's a great ride.

Abridgment: If you've been waiting to read The Passage because it's just too thick, the abridged audio version is the way to go. The story is told in 14 hours, compared to 36 unabridged. The whole story is there, just streamlined.

When The Passage first came out, I attempted to listen to the unabridged version, but I didn't get past section one. Although I was surprised to find this was an abridged version, I think the abridgment helped by moving the plot along. I'm curious about the pieces I missed, but I don't feel like I lost anything vital. I'm ready for book two coming out in summer, 2012!

Reading: Edward Herrmann does a great job reading. I know him as Lorelei's father from Gilmore Girls, but this doesn't distract from his reading. Instead, his voice lends solemnity and authority to the story.

I was surprised when the epilogue was read by a different narrator. I don't know who she is since she's not credited on the package or websites I checked. The change in voice was unexpected. I would have preferred to have one reader for the whole story.

Nums: Love the cover!

Final thoughts: The Passage lives up to the hype. It's an exciting outbreak story with a unique and chilling threat. The abridged audio version keeps the plot moving while maintaining character detail.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is part of October's Murder, Monsters and Mayhem by Jenn's Bookshelves and RIP at Stainless Steel Droppings.

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