Post Apocalyptic horror is one of my favorite genres. I can trace this back to reading The Stand when I was about 13. The Passage by Justin Cronin reminds me of The Stand in more ways than one. Not only is it about a group of post apocalyptic survivors trying to survive while understanding the meaning of their lives, but it also has a subtle (well, more subtle than The Stand) religious undercurrent. Not that Cronin or King are trying to push religion on anyone. It just that when things seem the worst, when there seems to be no reason to go on living, we all need something, some kind of magic or faith, to get us through.
The Apocalypse in The Passage begins as most apocalypses do, with the U.S. Government. A plant found in South America seems to possess magical healing powers: powers that could really help the U.S. Army. The Government begins experiments on Death Row inmates. When these experiments don't go so well, they decide to try the drug on a child. The child they choose, Amy, will go on to become "the girl who saves the world." But you won't see it in this book. The Passage is the first book in a planned trilogy. We jump 90 years into the future when most of mankind has been wiped out by the "virals", vampire like creatures that were produced as a result of these experiments. The virals need to feed on humans. They are sensitive to light and seem to live forever. They don't show much intelligence but they seem to hunt in packs. They are essentially zombie/vampire hybrids. A group of survivors find Amy, still alive 90 years later and hardly aged. Amy seems to possess special powers. It is as if she can "control" the virals. Driven by some unknown force, Peter Jaxon, one of the survivors, decides he must take Amy to Colorado where the outbreak began. So begins our journey.
I liked The Passage very much. It is a real page turner and you really get to know and care for the characters. Having said that, be aware that it is a trilogy. The book just kind of ends: it's not even a very good cliffhanger. I want to know what happens, I just wish the ending of THIS book could have been more satisfying. Scary in parts, weepy in parts, I highly recommend The Passage. Just be sure you know that it is going to be a MAJOR time commitment.