Justin Cronin: The Passage

This Houston author hit paydirt with a story about death row inmates turned into vamps

There was lots of buzz for Rice University professor Justin Cronin's 780-plus-page novel The Passage even before it was finished. According to New York magazine, Ballantine Books paid $3.75 million for the American rights to it and the two planned sequels. Ridley Scott's production company paid $1.75 million for the film rights. And that was before anyone saw the finished product.

The trilogy is the story of - wait for it - vampires. Not the teenaged kind who go to high school or the mannered Southern Gothic kind. No, Cronin's vampires are death-row inmates who turned into violent, bloodthirsty creatures as the result of a government experiment gone astray. Extremely astray. Set 100 years in the future, the book captures the destruction of civilization as we know it and the rise of a new world order peopled by just two groups: predators and prey.

Now that the book's done, it seems Ballantine and Scott made the right decision. Besides earning Cronin throngs of happy fans and a slew of adoring critics, The Passage is getting heady praise from none other than the famed Stephen King. He calls it "an enthralling, entertaining story wedded to simple, supple prose, both informed by tremendous imagination." See what all the fuss is about today at 6 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit www.brazosbookstore.com. Free.
Wed., June 9, 2010

 
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