The Passage by Justin Cronin (Audiobook read by: Scott Brick)
The Passage is the story of a virus released in the US that turns 10% of those infected into blood-craving, sunlight-avoiding vampires. The story focuses on the people who caused the outbreak, those who survived it, and the one person who can save humanity from it. The novel starts out a handful of years into the future and follows a young orphan named Amy Bellafonte and an FBI agent named Brad Wolgast. The book traces the roots of the virus from the jungles of Bolivia to its eventual release from a top secret army facility in Colorado where it is being developed and studied. You become quite attached to all the characters you meet leading up to the release of the virus, then suddenly the narrative jumps 90 years into the future, and we are treated to an entirely new story. Cronin drops us into a world that bears little resemblance to the world we know today. We're introduced to an (almost) entirely new cast of characters who are just beginning their voyage to reclaim the world from the virals who have replaced them as the dominant species on the planet.
I simply can't say enough good things about this book. Cronin uses some very distinct narrative techniques that make the book an unique experience. It's not often that a book can be clearly split into 2 stories and still hold itself together. The stories are connected only vaguely, but they work together to give you a deeper understanding of the world of "The Passage." The emotion that Cronin pours into the pages of this book brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion and, as with any great book, I felt a real hole in my days when I no longer spent them with the characters of this book.
As with any audiobook I review I have to discuss the narrator, Scott Brick. He is amazing, just spot on with all the character voices. His pacing and tone match the story perfectly. He imbues the story with emotion and passion without it seeming forced. Audiobooks can often detract from the story if the narrator isn't right for the book, this was not at all the case with this book, and if you have a long road trip (as I did) I highly recommend this audiobook.