We are delighted to welcome Marc Aplin from Fantasy Faction back to the Gollancz Blog. Marc is working with us and our sister imprint Orion Books for the Worldwide Readalong of The Passage. We’ll turn this over to Marc to explain how you can get involved in the readalong on Goodreads.
A plot that extends thousands of years, humanity at the brink, bloodthirsty vampires, and a young girl who may hold the key to survival…
If you haven’t read The Passage by Justin Cronin then you’ve so far missed out on one of the very best examples of SFF released this decade. It’s really that simple. The Passage is a book that takes the very best elements of multiple genres – fantasy, western, horror, science fiction, dystopian/post-apocalyptic – and blends them all together to create a truly extraordinary experience.
For those who have not read The Passage before, bear with me whist I set the scene.
The American government has been experimenting on death row inmates in a secret facility. They’ve been infected with a virus that gives them many of the traits we’d associate with vampires: incredible strength, improved healing and an insatiable bloodlust. They seem to be closing in on the secrets of rejuvenation, potentially immortality, until, inevitably, there is a breach and the virus is released on the world’s population.
Now, you may be thinking, “Hmm… Vampires…”, but hang on just a minute! We aren’t talking sexy, sparkling vampires or those dressed in frilly shirts, wearing decorative jackets and brandishing cheesy lines. In fact, Justin Cronin (should he be reading) is likely wincing at the word ‘vampire’ I’ve used to far (sorry, Justin!). Rather, his monsters are the source, the truth behind all the legends in movies, books and video games we’ve consumed over the years. They are a biologically and physiologically plausible result of a virus that has existed on this planet for a long time in a remote area of the globe.
As the novel progresses, mankind falls and we end up in a post-apocalyptic world closer to medieval times than modern. For the remaining population, every day of survival is a triumph. The book is about humanity, how people can come together and find a way to survive even the end of the world. It is also about hope and what individuals are willing to risk for a better tomorrow.
What makes this book so special is the tale Justin Cronin tells is as likely to touch you and provoke your thoughts as it is get your heart pounding and scare you. It’s as much a tale of people as much as it is vampires and our crumbling world.
Now, The Passage is a real commitment. The UK Edition is not too far off 1000 pages and the page-turning prose of the author means that it is easy to overlook some of the more subtle details or not take quite enough time to appreciate the experience. Additionally, some people have told us they’ve had the book on their list to read for ages, but the weighty tome has sat on the shelves intimidating them. Another common complaint was that so much of the book seems written to encourage reflection and conversation and yet they had no one to talk about it with.
Well, Orion, Gollancz and Fantasy-Faction have come up with an idea to solve all these potential The Passage problems and give readers who want to do a re-read of The Passage (and the sequel, The Twelve) before the third and final book in the series, The City of Mirrors, is release in June.
Each week I will be posting a summary of the chapters we have read, pointing out anything I think is interesting, exploring what the writer may have been thinking when he wrote a certain element of the story and raising a few questions for the community to debate.
The posts will appear on the blog you are reading right now and the conversations will happen inside our Goodreads Group (quick, join us!).
Here is the schedule:
March 21 Chapters 1-5
March 28 Chapters 6-9
April 4 Chapters 10-16
April 11 Chapters 17-20
April 18 Chapters 21-26
April 25 Chapters 27-38
May 2 Chapters 39-47
May 9 Chapters 48-58
May 16 Chapters 59-67
May 23 Chapters 68 to End
Once we’ve finished The Passage, we will progress onto The Twelve and then The City of Mirrors. 🙂 I will be posting a schedule for The Twelve towards the middle of May.
Well, my friends, that’s it for this week. Go pick up that copy of The Passage and read the first five chapters. Once you’ve done that feel free to head over to our Goodreads Group and chat with the rest of us about the week’s reading!
Be quick! This week only The Passage is just 99p on ebook. Download your copy and join the readalong.