I’m starting writing this now, before I’m even done with the book because I have a lot of things I want to talk about before I forget. I don’t think this will even end up being a review at all, which is why I’m not titling it as such. Listen. This book…if you follow me on twitter or are my friend on GoodReads, you’ll know I’ve been struggling with this book. It’s not because it’s terrible, because it’s not. It’s more that I feel like it has a lot of unfulfilled potential. David asked me on one of my gr status updates if I thought it might be my editorial eye that made me more willing to continue, because I was able to sift through what was and wasn’t working. The more I think about this, the more I realize that he’s right. The Passage could have been brilliant. The problem here is either that Cronin’s editors and publisher let him down, or he let himself down by trying to fit TOO DAMN MUCH into the almost 800 pages of this book (and, actually, my ebook is over 800 pages, which is one of the reasons it’s so daunting). It seems that lately, in the publishing biz, trilogies are the thing. Forget the lengthy sagas or (god forbid) the standalone novel, no one wants those anymore. Three books and tap out. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like that’s the current trend, and I think it’s detrimental to authors AND readers. I know I’m in the minority with regards to this book (although the further I get, the more people I hear from who say they either gave up on this one, or WISH they had), but I don’t think I’d have struggled as hard to get through it, had this first book been broken into two or three novels, instead of one giant Epic Train Wreck. Because when it comes down to it, that’s what this book feels like. We aren’t given enough time to acclimate to one group of characters before we’re moving on because they’re all dead. What the hell? What was the point of learning 50 names if NONE OF THEM are important, after all? If this book had been split up, we’d have had a chance to get to actually KNOW AND CARE ABOUT these characters so that the inevitable deaths meant something to us. Conversely, if some of the irrelevant things that don’t actually end up meaning anything had been removed, this book could have been cut down to a much more manageable 400-500 pages, and it would have been so much better for it.
So, I just finished. All of that up there is totally irrelevant now because I’m pissed. That was the stupidest book, and I can’t believe I wasted my time. Even up through the last 15 pages, I was thinking “You know, if the second book is better, maybe I’ll give it a chance.” Now I’m just mad and wishing I had a physical copy of this book to burn. Ugh.
SO. That first part is what happens when I start talking about a book I haven’t finished. The second part is what happens when I finish a book and start writing about it while I’m still SO ANGRY ZOMG.
I’ve had several hours to cool off, and while I’m still angry, I’m not all capattack and sweary like I was when I finished yesterday.
This was me when I finished reading (Heather D, avert your eyes):
— sj (@popqueenie) October 6, 2012
Am I still mad? Yes. Do I hate this book with every fibre of my being? No, that’s reserved for the work of Chuck Palahniuk, thank you very much.
HOWEVER. I guess I just don’t get it. I don’t understand how this was, like, the most TALKED ABOUT BOOK of 2010 (which is probably why I avoided reading it until now), I don’t understand why the majority of the ratings and reviews I’ve seen are so positive.
As I said above in that crossed out part, this book COULD HAVE BEEN so excellent. I kept noticing little parts that would give me shivers and parts that were just so well written, I could ALMOST see what everyone was raving about.
The majority of the book, though (at least 75%) was confusing, boring, and really in need of both paring down AND fleshing out.
So, I’m asking. I need those of you that have loved this book to explain why.
(DO NOT tell me that it’s because it’s just like The Stand. I will be very tempted to call you a liar. I’ve read The Stand many times, and the only similarity between Cronin and King is that they both need to let their editors do their effing jobs.)