Let’s start this with an apology. I’m super sorry guys but this is gonna be chock-a-block full of spoilers. If you don’t want to know what happens then close your eyes now! I normally try to steer clear of ruining books for people, but I just loved this one so so much I want to tell you all about the parts that interested me. And if you have read it then please speak up – I really want to discuss it with someone!
Vampirical apocalypse is what this novel is billed as, and right from the start you are know something catastrophic is going to happen. The opening section follows two stories; one of which is Amy’s, a young girl who has been abandoned with nuns by her mother. The second story is that of FBI Agent Wolgast who is in charge of collecting death row prisoners who have been given the option to live out the rest of their lives in incarceration rather than lethal injection. These inmates are then used for experimentation by the government, who have discovered a virus – transmitted by vampire bats that can make humans disease-free and thus immortal. Wolgast doesn’t object to this task, until he discovers that he has to pick up a thirteenth subject – Amy.
There is a connection between Wolgast and Amy from the very beginning, he even tries to escape with her – but is foiled – and upon returning to the government faculty stays with her up until she receives the injection. When everything inevitably goes to shit and the test subjects break out Wolgast manages to run away with Amy under the cover of the calamitous events that unfold. Whilst the term vampire is never used, the test subjects gain super strength, are virtually immune to attack and have a prodigious appetite for human flesh.
For a while the book follows the story of Amy and Wolgast’s survival, whilst the virus spreads across America. They hole up in a cabin in the mountains making occasional trips out for supplies. Amy has contracted some aspects of the virus, she does not age and is sensitive to light – however the destructive elements are not evident. This is where I thought the story would continue, with their survival and adaptation to the new world. However Justin Cronin brutally kills off Wolgast in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion. I was not this massive twist, Wolgast is a brave extremely likeable character and it honestly threw me as to how the book would continue.
The following section picks up the story 92 years later; following a band of survivors who have formed a Colony surrounded by massive lights that burn all night thus protecting the survivors from the “virals” as they are dubbed. This section feels like a whole new novel, the virals are the only continuation until Amy shows up at the colony’s gates. Her arrival is the beginning of unrest throughout the colony. We learn that the batteries powering the lights are beginning to fail. People begin having strange dreams, leading to a chain of events in which the lights are turned off. There is a devastating viral attack which results in the death of a prominent figure in the Colony. A combination of these factors and increasing friction within the Colony force several members to leave along with Amy to seek out a radio signal which they believe to be from other survivors.
Ok, that’s it I won’t spoil any more of the plot; I will only say that it gets even stranger from there on in. A lot happens in this book, there are heaps of characters as well as many little side spinoffs and interactions that later have significant impact. Despite this it is a really great storyline; you can’t help but be drawn into the intrigue surrounding the virals. Cronin manages to depict a creature far more interesting and than your regular zombie or vampire, these creatures have some degree of physic power being able to manipulate humans’ dreams and thoughts to weaken their defences. I found parts of this book really scary, something I haven’t experienced reading anything for a long long time. So if you like being terrified then this is one for you! I would recommend it to anyone who likes horror, dystopian novels and a good long book to get their teeth into. It is the first part of a trilogy so I expect a lot from the next installation (which I have already ordered!! Have any of you read The Passage? Who loved it as much as I did?