Shelve your vampire crushes and prejudices – the super-fast bloodsuckers of Justin Cronin’s 2010 blockbuster The Passage aren’t the sparkly type. In this second volume of the trilogy, the creatures (called ‘virals’) are back; the series continues to feel like a mishmash of The Stand and The Walking Dead as whipped together by a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
As with part one, the book takes place both right when things went to hell – when the US military’s supersoldier virus instead created supermonsters – and at a point in the future, several generations later. Those post-apocalyptic sections are strongest, following a ragtag band of vampire hunters, including the immortal little girl who might hold the key to humanity’s survival.
Cronin is at his best when tracing the minutiae of life after civilisation, winding his way through the world of human survivors. He excels at conjuring the states of mind that arise during the vampire crisis: confusion, denial, horror, insanity – the end of the world is even worse when you can’t think straight.