Monday, August 16, 2010

The End of the Affair

My tryst with The Passage has come to a close.  My opinion of it at the end is not quite as high as it was in the middle, but I will still call it a great book and say that I enjoyed it a lot.  I'll also admit to being glad to be done with it, though.

I've heard that this is the first in a trilogy, which makes total sense.  It feels like the first part of a trilogy.  Given that, though, I think it could have used streamlining.  While there was no part that made me itch in a "why are you telling me this" way, I won't say that there was nothing non-essential in this book.

The only thing that I think really drove me crazy, though, was the mystical part.  Even in a more fantastical book, the mythology of things like vampires is really a "science fiction" element.  The fact that vampires hate garlic, sunlight, even crosses, is about creating a scientific systematization around your imaginary creatures.  The sciencey parts of this book work fine. 

But there is a deep, non-sensical level of mysticism that didn't sit well with me. I can even deal with the idea of trapped souls, mindreading, whatever.  But there's just the wrong amount of God in this book.  By the end, if anyone else came automatically to a silent understanding of what needed doing that I could not for the life of me figure out, I was going to kick something.  Everyone in this book has a sense of a greater purpose, a pattern, a meaning in things.  If the plague was the hand of God wiping us sinners from the earth (and yes, it was called Project Noah, why do you ask?), then God has made it weirdly difficult for the survivors. 

Noah himself was simultaneously tested and set up for success in a boat.  He had to take action to save himself, but the boat was not set upon by killer sharks, struck by lightening, and marauded by pirates.  Once God decided to save Noah, he actually saved him.  Peter and his friends, however, wander around getting into trouble, and they (and the author, and theoretically I) believe that the fact that they haven't died is all the evidence they need of a Higher Power guiding them.

I'm not very good at spiritual stuff, really, but from a literary standpoint, if not a theological one, the mystical stuff in The Passage didn't hold water.  (Wait, was that a Noah's Ark joke?  Let's say yes.)

But for all that, for all the Epic Wandering Around they do, I liked it.  I wanted to know what happened.  I wanted to think about the world he built.

And I want to see the movie.  Which will suck, I know.  And no, that's not a vampire joke.  Just pessimism.

1 comment:

Brenda Pike said...

The whole mystical thing—knowing exactly what to do at any moment, with no explanation except for psychics and/or God—is very Stephen King. And it's one of the things I dislike most about him.

I think what finally did this book in, in my eyes, was too many characters, with too little depth, and never enough time to develop a relationship with them. I can forgive a lot if I care about the characters.