I had seen Justin Cronin on GMA promoting this book. What interested me was a phone call from Stephen King as Mr. Cronin is being interviewed. Stephen King said that Justin Cronin had brought the vampire genre back to where it was meant to be. I had to read the book. It wasn't what I expected, however.
Justin Cronin's writing is lyrical and full of flavor. While the book did have vampires it's not the sort of story you'd expect. The vampires are not your every day Draculas but more Nosferatu - feral and bloodthirsty. I will not kid you - the book is long. I was amazed at it's length because it just didn't feel like a nearly 800 page book.
The story starts out with the Army working with a scientist who is trying to uncover a cure to death. What he discovers is a virus that turns people into vampires. The Army sees an opportunity to make new soldiers and supports the experiments. Unfortunately, the vampires escape and infect the world. The story becomes less about the vampires and more about surviving this new world that is haunted by vampires in the dark. The characters are forced to make a journey in search of salvation. I can't say it's a happy book or that everyone will appreciate the ending. But the journey with the characters is well worth it all.
The book is reminiscent of many Stephen King stories - The Stand, The Dark Tower and even a little Langoliers. It also has a taste of Michael Crichton with his government ruins the world feel. It's not a horror book in the sense that it's bloody and heartracing. You get swept into the book but it's tasteful - the characters are real and the story is not convoluted with sex and violence. It has a touch of passion but mostly a strong pull into the lives of those who are in the story.