So, you’ve picked up a book, eyes drawn by the cover, or maybe the Author’s name. Very impressive, you muse. You open the book to the flap copy or turn it over and read the back. Interesting, this book! The high concept is intriguing, so you walk away with it. Eighteen chapters into the book, the entire storyline does a 180. What?? Do you put it down? Keep reading?
This is what happened to me recently when I picked up The Passage by Justin Cronin. I was engrossed, 18 chapters invested, when I was propelled 100 years into the future. It was like starting a new book. For about 20 seconds I contemplating tossing this to the side, finding another read. But I’ve invested 18 chapters! I anguished. Most of you don’t know me. I can be a bit stubborn. Determined not to be defeated by this turn of events, I pushed forward.
I must confess now: I’m glad I did. What the next 500+ pages (yes, 500+, 766 total) held were well worth it. Most impressive was the way Cronin took us 100 years into the future, then back-wove the story line to the beginning of the book. Well-rounded comes to mind. I won’t offer criticism on an Author’s work, be it style, pace, execution, etc.. But I will offer my perspective as a reader. I found this book ambitious and satisfying. Well done, Justin!
Lesson here? If you reach a point in a book, any book, where an Author’s work screams: WRONG! BAD DECISION! WHAT WAS THE AUTHOR THINKING?, relax. Push on a little further. If it’s a truly bad direction, you’ll confirm it soon enough, but I doubt it. Remember, a lot of time, many eyes and a ton of double-checks went into this book before it ever hit print. Put a little trust in the process!
And to think, I almost tossed this aside……
NOTE: This is not a review of Justin Cronin’s work or this book, specifically. While my opinions of this particular work are true, I used it to make a point on literature in general. Hope you don’t mind, Mr. Cronin….