Much unlike many a magazine editor who recommends you buy all sorts of crap that they most likely got for free, your Jezebel staff doesn't get jack shit (other than books, unsolicited). And that's how it should be. But on our own time, in our personal lives, we still buy stuff. So this is Worth It, our recommendation of random things that we've actually spent our own money on. These are the things we buy regularly or really like, things we'd actually tell our friends about. And now we're telling you.
I know, I know, vampires have become so trendy in recent years that they're basically passe. But hear me out! Justin Cronin's postapocalyptic vampire trilogy, The Passage, is not only a return to form—scary, instead of sexy, vampires—but it's so gorgeously written that, although it incorporates elements of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, it transcends any genre. Thick with emotion and warmth, it's more affecting than the typical tale of a dystopian future, lending it the ability to charm all types of readers. In fact, its mass appeal was so apparent that three years before the first installment was even released in 2010, there was a Hollywood bidding war for the rights to make it a movie based solely on a 400-page partial manuscript. (Ridley Scott won out in a seven-figure deal.)
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the best part: it's about a girl who saves the world.
Cronin received the inspiration for the trilogy—The Passage (2010), The Twelve (2012), and the forthcoming The City of Mirrors (2014)—in 2006 from his then 9-year-old daughter, who'd made a request that he write a book about just that. He delivered a story about the salvation of the world resting in a six-year-old girl named Amy, but the books are notably full of strong and compelling heroines.
Mostly taking place 100 years in the future—after a U.S. government top secret special weapons project went horribly awry causing the near extinction of the human race—the story jumps around in time a lot. While some have compared The Passage to Stephen King's The Stand, I think it's more like the first season of Lost, in which this horrible thing rooted in realism happens, opening the door to a fantastical events. And just like Lost, what really makes The Passage and The Twelve so effective is the deep connection to the characters.
Similar to Lost's infamous flashbacks, Cronin goes to great lengths to familiarize the reader with all of the people in his story by weaving each one a rich history, providing so much insight into their choices and creating an intense understanding of who they are. In the first few pages of the first book, alone, you might find yourself in tears empathizing with a hooker/murderer.
I don't want to give too much away, because, you know, spoilers and all. Truly, though, this is a can't-put-it-down reading experience. As I've grown older, I've realized that the most valuable commodity is time. Once I've spent money, there are plenty of ways for me to get more of it. But once I've spent time, it's just gone. There's no getting it back. And, in those terms, reading—especially a trilogy—is a huge investment. But this one is worth it.
Worth It only features things we paid for ourselves and actually like. Don't send us stuff. To see all previous Worth It columns, click here.