Anyhoo, I plowed 350 laborious pages through Justin Cronin's "The Passage" and, sorry www.io9.com, it sucked giant sweaty ass. This novel is like a schematic for How To Sell Your Novel to Hollywood.
Step 1: Get Stephen King to blather on about it on the dust jacket
Step 2: Thank CAA on the Thanks Page
Step 3: Mention Ridley Scott on the Thanks Page
Step 4: Write a 800+ page rough draft
Yes, in that order. Because I think that's how it went down. Cronin humped King's leg at some book signing or publishing convention, got him to read a 10-page excerpt of his tome and then went and did the rest.
Allegedly Cronin won a PEN and a couple of other awards for a short story analogy called "Mary and O'Neil". Sadly, I don't think he even bothered to edit "The Passage" and I'm pretty sure no one at Random House did either.
Io9.com stupidly compared the first part of "The Passage" to Cormac McCarthy's "The Road". McCarthy's novel is an impressive and flawless read that will go down in sci-fi as one of the great ones.
But Cronin's book is by-the-numbers sci-fi/horror and there's few surprises. There's a pious, self-sacrificing black woman. There's a white trash 8-yr-old with vague mystical powers who gets infected with a vampire virus by evil government men. There's a long-suffering FBI agent who emotionally adopts the mystical brat ... even when she abandons him to die! Etc. This ain't King's "The Stand", it's not even a good knock off of "Different Seasons".
Vast, ruminating back story is given to every damn character. I knew what one security guard's favorite food was, I knew everything about his childhood ... SO?! His character becomes vampire snack food.
And as for Cronin's MFA and more literary-minded writing, I sure didn't see any here. The sentences were often long and clunky. He spends four paragraphs saying something that McCarthy could have said in one sentence.
My criticism (and everybody else's) are moot as Cronin has already sold the movie rights and Ridley Scott is in pre-production. In six months to a year, a smoldering turd will land on top of the box office.
In other news, I too am now a pooblished author. I'd like to thank all five of the readers of Black Matrix Publishing's periodicals. I'll post a PDF of my printed story just as soon as Black Matrix mails it to me and I get it scanned.