Ok, some of this is going to sound familiar, because The Passage is five parts Stephen King's The Stand, one part I Am Legend (not the short story, which is shitty, but the movie which is gleefully terrifying), an eighth of a part dangly, unsatisfactory ending bits because this is the first in a trilogy (750+ pages is, apparently, not enough) and several jiggers of awesome.
So the government has discovered a virus that keeps you from dying but also makes it so you need to drink blood to live and no one says the word 'vampires' but it is strongly implied. And I know, vampires! Again!! But like Trish says, don't be that guy. Vampires can be real fucking scary if they're done right. They drink your blood, people. DRINK IT! LIKE JUICE! Cronin's vampires don't stalk you sexily, they kill you dead.
Ok so, also the virus makes you really really strong. And fast. And gives you perfect, sculpted crystal abs, and tousled hair SORRY! Stephenie Meyer, I am sorry. But for real, these vampires = strong and fast. And the government is trying to dumb the virus down so that it makes you strongandfast sans bloodlust, but they have to test it on people first. And since the people I'd most like to be invincible and after my B-positive are hardened criminals, they test it on death-row inmates.
Bravo, good sirs. Needless to say, the criminal-pires escape and everyone is either killed or infected and suddenly it is a hundred(ish) years later. There is a colony of survivors who use lights and, like, crossbows and shit to keep the vampires at bay, but their batteries are dying and no one in this brave new world knows how to make more. The lights will go out, people.
Did I mention there's a girl? There's a girl (like, a child) who gets the final, dumbed-down version of the virus, so she no need drinky blood but she lives for ages. ANYhoodle, she shows up at the hundred-years-later colony and then X follows Y and many people are killed peripherally but the important ones set out on a Quest to Save the World. And that happens for, like, 300 more pages.
And it's great, liebchens. Stressful, because Cronin leaves you sitting for a minute, anxious but subdued, before flinging you out over a crevasse and then letting you hang there for (p)ages. My anxiety is currently palpable. You may have no fears re: the ending, you will not be Patrick-Ness'ed into cliffhangerry rage, but even if the promo bits hadn't been all ZOMG TRILOGY I still would have been looking over my shoulder for the sequel.
Read it. You know, when it comes out next month. Of which I will remind you.
Eight and a half caterpillars.
Requisite ass-covering: got this lug from RandomHouse.