Please excuse the overlong silence: Blogger was uncooperative, and I'm not one of those ambitious people who can eschew the ease of a do-it-yourself blog publisher and build my own Web Presence. Though, with the help of my brilliant web programmer husband, I have learned to do this:
Look at that! Exciting, isn't it? Anyway, I finished Passage the other day, and it was a relief. It's kind of sad to say that, because I did enjoy it, and I think of myself as a huge Connie Willis fan, so I just want to gush about this book. But the fact is, it's too long by almost a third.
You get a good, solid start with 100 pages or so of setup--meeting our characters (Doctors Joanna Lander and Richard Wright), learning about their motivations and lives (researchers trying to establish the scientific basis of near death experiences, and whether they serve a biological function; lots of running around the hospital, answering phone messages, and scheduling conflicts), and get an idea of the main driving story of the book (Mandrake, the spiritualist whose research discredits their own, and Joanna's feeling that she's close to the truth about near death experiences).
Then, we have the middle part, which should be much, much....well, I want to say shorter, but the problem isn't that it's too long, it's that it loops around itself. Willis does an amazing job of creating the tension of the everyday busy person--too many voicemails, pages that you don't have time to answer right now, people rescheduling on you when you really need to get this done by Tuesday. This does a good job of ratcheting up the tension, but I think that was the problem: the level of tension was hit early in the book and didn't climb gradually, but stayed frenetic for too long.
The story was so good, though, that I can't un-recommend the book. It's a book that's about the ride, and you need to be willing to climb on and watch the scenery go by, get to know the people who work at the hospital, fish around in the imagery that Joanna is trying to parse (and I won't spoil anything by giving away the details here). I loved Maisie and Kit and Guadalupe, and I was annoyed by Tish and Mr. Sage. I really wanted to know when the cafeteria would be open, and I want the recipe for the ham dip.
I can't say I didn't enjoy the book. I just would have enjoyed less of it more.