The Passage: The Best Freakin' Book Trilogy and Why You Need to Read It

Nicole Doliner

The Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin is a sweeping, epic saga that spans three books  The Passage is 766 pages; the second book, The Twelve is 568 pages. The final book, entitled The City of Mirrors, clocks in at 602 pages. It is a huge time investment to get into this series, but it is absolutely worth it. In fact, I’ve read and re-read the trilogy and all of its almost 2000 pages at least four times. 

The series, at its most basic level, follows a number of characters both before, during, and in the aftermath of a huge epidemic that turns people into vampire-like creatures. FOX has recently created a TV show, and I could only get through the first half of the first episode; it was already so different than the books and I genuinely didn’t want them ruined for me. 

I am a sucker for dystopian & apocalyptic fiction. I’m fascinated with how the world will end. (Yes, a little macabre. But I did marry a guy who has survival bags in each car and stockpiles of soup & water in the basement, so I’m not alone.) Cronin does a phenomenal job of painting the world as it currently is, and then tearing it down when the virus takes hold. He is absolutely a master at creating a believable, horrifying setting. Apparently, during his research for the book, Cronin traveled all over the United States, and it is clear. His descriptions of the United States both prior to and after the vampire apocalypse are haunting and fascinating reading. 

Another reason why I love this trilogy is the wonderfully badass female characters in the series. Alicia Donadio and Amy Bellafonte, in particular, propel the novel forward and I became deeply invested in both of their character arcs. They are unbelievably resilient in the face of such stark, dire circumstances and manage to not only survive, but thrive in this horrific post-apocalyptic world. 

For me, I hate reading horror & gore. The description of the book - vampires ending the world - honestly doesn’t sound like it’s for me. However, the way that Cronin crafts his characters is truly phenomenal and the setting feels so realistic. If you’re looking to get swept away in a literary world, give this series a shot.

What is your favorite post-apocalyptic or dystopian fiction? 

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