It’s really difficult to write about this book and I know why. It’s because it’s 700 pages long and it contains at least three full novels in there. There’s at least two hundred characters, if not more, who are given names and personalities and occupations – this is a book that requires you to flip back constantly to keep track of people, particularly when some people have first, and last, and nicknames.
Basically Justin Cronin took his Bestseller Blender and he threw in vampires, zombies, and post-apocalyptic conventions, and out came a 700-page book with a Stephen King blurb on the back. Now, I love post-apocalyptic stuff, and I love zombies, and I even still love vampires who don’t sparkle or smile. So this book kept me reading, certainly. There’s a lot of action in it, and the characters are sympathetic, most of them ringing true to life* with flaws and authentic thought processes. There are definitely a few scenes that drew me in – I just had to know what happened next – and the villains (both human and monster) were perfectly creepy.
But ultimately this book falters under the weight of itself. It’s too long, for one, containing bloated scenes, unnecessary, repetitive dialogue, and some unsatisfying, meandering storylines. Our intrepid heroes encounter a lot of very convenient plot twists, and I grew very tired of the “end the scene so you think the character is dead – then have them show up like everything’s normal a few pages later” trope, which is used several times in the book. And the ending – ugh. I don’t want to talk about the ending; it’s too raw.
I really don’t get why this book had to have so much crammed into it. Some trimming and it could have been a really tight, well-honed novel or two or three. Since it’s supposed to be a trilogy, it could have turned into an interesting series.
* Except Amy. Anytime she was on the scene I just knew Justin Cronin wants to cast Summer Glau in the movie.