The Passage by Justin Cronin Orion, HK$104 Justin Cronin's The Passage burst into bookshops last year, and then flew out of them - thanks to smart advertising (million-dollar bidding war, Ridley Scott making the movie) and, more importantly, excellent word of mouth. This story of a young pseudo-vampire girl struggling to survive in a futuristic America is over-long, but also an epic you get lost in, emotionally and imaginatively. Amy Harper Bellafonte is our heroine. After her prostitute mother Jeanette kills a violent client, the pair go on the run. The year is 2018, Amy is six and the world is distinctly post-apocalyptic. Attempts to make chemically enhanced super soldiers have gone wrong, producing a virus that creates vampire-like bloodsuckers (or 'Virals'). One day, Amy becomes infected but unlike the monsters ravaging the land, she seems to have healing rather than destructive properties. She finds safety and friends in one of many colonies of the healthy. But how long can they survive? The first part of a trilogy, The Passage is slightly too dense. The plot is gripping and the characters are believable, but overindulged by Cronin who gives everyone's backstory with compulsive glee. Still, it is addictive stuff. Roll on part two.