Sunday, 27 June 2010

Book of the Week - Justin Cronin, The Passage

The Passage
by Justin Cronin comes heavily promoted, and is a post-apocalyptic vampire novel very much in line with the current zeitgeist. Cronin (born 1962) is American, with two previous novels (literary fiction) and a novella under his belt, winning the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Stephen Crane Prize, and the Whiting Writer's Award. However, with The Passage, he appears to have set out to write a blockbuster, and as a result has hit a financial jackpot.

Cronin was born and raised in New England, and is a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He taught creative writing and was the 'Author in-residence' at La Salle University in Philadelphia, PA from 1992 - 2005. He currently lives with his wife and children in Houston, Texas where he is Professor of English at Rice University. The Passage is the first in a trilogy which has apparently earned Cronin close to 3.75 million USD. In addition, Fox 2000 has purchased the film rights to the first book in the trilogy for approximately 1.75 million.

The Passage has been very heavily promoted, with the full weight of an internet marketing campaign and no less than two websites - and The original first edition was the US earlier this month. The book is now being published in the UK by Orion, presumably with a large print run, but is already into reprints. Goldsboro books have an exclusive signed, numbered and slipcased edition now sold out. In addition, there is a version signed by the author on a tipped in additional sheet. This is available from a number of dealers, but also from Amazon discounted to £17 on pre-order.

Is this a good book? In the book world it shows every sign of being this summer’s blockbuster (780 pages), and reviews have been surprisingly positive, although some inevitably a little disparaging. I think it will be going with me on holiday.

“First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.
As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.
With The Passage, award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterful prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.”


Anonymous said...

This might become a good investment indeed since its the first book of a projected trilogy and books by Stephenie Meyer and Stieg Larsson are worth a fortune already. I have a question though. On ebay one can find people offering a limited edition with paper installments? Can you say something about that? Is the goldsboro version the only UK-special edition?
Also, last week Ali Shaw received the Desmond Elliot Prize. I wonder if you could say something about the prize and the winners. Is this going to be a new collectible sub-field. Thanks, Alex

Trapnel said...

I suspect the print run is relatively large on this one, and it comes with much more hype and publicity than the first Meyer and Larsson, so I doubt it will do that well. However, I agree that it will increase in value somewhat, at least in the short term. As well as the Goldsboro version (which is numbered and has a slipcase), the other UK-special is the one signed on an additional tipped in sheet, currently available from Amazon at £17. I suspect that this is the one beeing offered on ebay. I am not aware of any other specials, but will keep a look out.

As for the Elliot Prize, I will return to it (and prizes more generally) in a future post!

Camulodunum Books said...

I just wanted to add some information here for your readers. The edition that many sellers are offering on ebay as a limited edition with paper samplers -is a standard uk trade first print hardback-there is an additional limitation page tipped in /bound in to the front of the book that has been signed by the author these were produced for waterstones in the uk-the newspaper style samplers that accompany many of the ebay listings were given away free by waterstones in the uk .

There are also Signed standard trade first print hardbacks available that have been signed by the author at his uk publishers offices -we have some in stock-and these have been supplied to us by his publishers directly.These are not numbered and do not have any tipped in limitation pages but are simply signed by the author -We have a few of these left in stock at the cover price of £20.00 whilst stocks last.

All of the 'limited editions' in existence have just been taken from the same first print run of the standard trade hardback as ours have.

Trapnel said...

I finally read this book towards the end of the summer, and was rather disappointed. The underlying plot and concept are good, but I thought the book could have been reduced in length by one third and that little of significance would have been lost. Given my doubts about the quality of the book, and the large print run referenced above, I doubt if this has much long term value to a collector.