The 2016 release of Justin Cronin’s The City of Mirrors, the final installment in The Passage trilogy, once again launched him to the top of The New York Times bestseller list. Cronin, dubbed “an unlikely heir to America’s genre-fiction throne” by The New York Times, has produced “an undeniable and compelling epic . . . a complex narrative of flight and forgiveness, of great suffering and staggering loss, of terrible betrayals and incredible hope” (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) that delivers a gripping conclusion “with all of the heartbreak, joy, and unexpected twists of fate that events in The Passage and The Twelve foreordained” (Publisher’s Weekly, starred review).
A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Cronin exemplifies the delicate yet deliberate writing and memorable character portraits that readers have come to expect from award-winning literary fiction. With 2010’s blockbuster The Passage, Cronin turned to darker, more gripping fare. The Passage debuted at #3 on The New York Times bestseller list and has since sold over a million copies. It features many of the hallmarks of a genre fiction blockbuster: a brooding, postapocalyptic setting; what Publishers Weekly calls “a sweeping epic style”; and supernatural antagonists with exceptional strength and a thirst for blood. But The Passage is not your typical vampire novel. The Passage and its sequels, The Twelve and The City of Mirrors, comprise a trilogy that Stephen King has called “enthralling”—not merely for its hypnotic intensity, but for the raw beauty of its prose.
The Passage begins with a devastating breach of security at a US government facility. Death-row inmates have been deliberately infected with a rare virus, giving them superhuman strength and insatiable bloodlust. Spanning more than 90 years, The Passage combines elements of horror, science fiction, and fantasy in a way that ultimately transcends genre conventions. In contrast to Cronin’s first two novels, which are graceful and restrained, “The Passage and The Twelve vibrate with a different kind of energy: louder, wilder, more unkempt” (The New York Times). The San Francisco Chronicle selected The Passage as one of the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2010, while The National Post called it “Homeric” and “one of the creepiest books” of the year. When Stephen King saw Cronin on Good Morning America, King called to congratulate him: “You put the scare back in vampires, buddy!”
The highly anticipated final installment, The City of Mirrors, was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller that “…brings the series to a thrilling and satisfying conclusion, but also exhibits Cronin’s moving exploration of love as both a destructive force and an elemental need, elevating this work among its dystopian peers” (Library Journal, starred review). With The Passage trilogy, Cronin—who admits to never having read any of the Twilight books—bridges the divide between literary and genre fiction without diminishing either.
“[The Passage is] a bona fide thriller that is sharply written, deeply humane, ablaze with big ideas, and absolutely impossible to put down.”
Cronin originally conceived of The Passage in a conversation with his daughter Iris, now a teenager, who asked her father to write a novel in which a girl saves the world. For Cronin, the heart of The Passage is a young girl named Amy, mournful and abandoned, who may indeed hold the key to saving humanity’s precious few survivors. The trilogy has been adapted as a TV series, praised by USA Today as the “sci-fi epic broadcast TV deserves.”
Cronin lives with his family in Houston, Texas, where he has taught creative writing at Rice University for many years. In addition to the PEN/Hemingway Award, Cronin is the recipient of the Stephen Crane Prize, a Whiting Writer’s Award, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and many other honors.
For more information on Justin Cronin, please visit enterthepassage.com.