Many works of science fiction depict a world where science has become a curse because humans’ reliance on technology has caused them to stop thinking for themselves. A few individuals in power come to control everything because nobody cares enough to stop them. In The Passage, a governmentally funded, top-secret experiment goes horribly wrong. Yet despite the fact that other authors have shown us a bleak future if we forget our past in search of a more advanced future none do so quite as powerfully, as vividly, as Justin Cronin.
A scientist loses his wife to cancer. Retracing the tracks of several terminal cancer patients who were mysteriously cured after a trip through the jungle, this scientist embarks on a dangerous mission in the wilderness of Mexico. The goal: tracking down a virus that, by targeting the thymus gland, restores the immune system, and youth. Not only can this beat cancer, it can drastically extend a lifetime. There’s a problem though. A side affect you might say. A very dangerous, this is why the whole project is top secret, kind of side effect.
So what happens when the secret gets out? What happens when the virus spreads across the country, the continent, carrying its “side affect” with it?
The world as we know it changes. Drastically.
This is more than a science experiment gone wrong. It is a government screw-up of epic proportions, and a deadly one at that. Ironic? That a virus that can save lives results in other lives being destroyed? I’d say so. And Justin Cronin captures the results with incredible imagery.
100 years after the outbreak, Cronin takes readers into the minds of the future, a future where only a few even know that starry skies exist in more than stories. We, as readers, feel those individuals’ fears in every fiber of our beings. And we journey with a brave few who decide to attack those fears in an effort to save humanity.
This novel is powerful. It’s a little creepy, certainly thought provoking, and like all good books, thoroughly addicting. But it is also a caution: Make sure you know the costs before you try to reap the benefits.