O's 2010 Summer Reading List

Lush historical novels, wise contemporary tales, thrillers that will scare the dickens out of you. (And speaking of Dickens, we've got him, too.)
The Passage

The Passage

784 pages; Ballantine
Part apocalyptic tale, part allegory, and all great storytelling, Justin Cronin's The Passage is a genre-whirling novel that includes such characters as a PTSD-scarred African nun, a female warrior with a heart of titanium, and a villain who threatens victims through their dreams. The novel—the first volume in a planned trilogy—begins with a desperate woman abandoning her little girl, Amy, at a convent. Amy winds up in the care of an FBI agent named Wolgast and the pair must flee the "virals"—humans turned vampires during a military experiment gone awry. For all the semihuman characters and disastrous military subterfuge, The Passage is ultimately a very long novel about a young woman's journey to understanding herself: "Amy felt their sorrow, but it was different now. It was a holy soaring. A thousand recollected lives were passing through her, a thousand thousand stories—of love and work, of parents and children, of duty and joy and grief...." Let others quibble over whether The Passage is thriller or literature; we see it as vital, tender, and compelling.
— Bethanne Patrick