By Justin Cronin
The Passage is the story of a government experiment gone horribly, gruesomely wrong. In the quest to get closer to immortality, the government experiments with some bats found in the tropics. They eventually get a virus that extends life. And as is so often suggested, they start to experiment with death row prisoners. And one little girl who seems to be abandoned. The virus does indeed extend life, but in return it turns the affected into vampire-like creatures.
The action skips around in time and place. It starts before the virus is found, skips to when it is truly becoming viral, and then skips about 100 years in the future. There's a sprawling cast of characters, including the girl, several of the death row inmates, the FBI agents who recruit them for experiments, a colony of survivors, a military unit, and many others. I'd say the girl, Amy, is the protagonist.
The Passage is the third book in a planned trilogy. The sequel, The Twelve, is available now. The third book is not yet available.
Did I like it? No. This book is over 700 pages long. Not a problem in and of itself, but this particular novel draaaaaaags on. And on. And on. It's aiming for Stephen King with the character development and the basic plot, but it falls quite short (and I'm not a huge King fan). As the book drew to a close, I kept wanting it to just be over already. I'd basically stopped caring what happened.
Did it pass the Bechdel test? Yes. Some of the action happens in a convent. And on more than one occasion the female colonists converse. Little of the conversation is about men. And Amy, who is about 12, does not even think about men or boys. In a vampire novel, no less! Also interesting to note is that the men are as likely as the women to worry about their relationships.