Book - 2001
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A tunnel, a light, a door. And beyond it ... the unimaginable.

Dr. Joanna Lander is a psychologist specializing in near-death experiences. She is about to get help from a new doctor with the power to give her the chance to get as close to death as anyone can.

A brilliant young neurologist, Dr. Richard Wright has come up with a way to manufacture the near-death experience using a psychoactive drug. Joanna's first NDE is as fascinating as she imagined -- so astounding that she knows she must go back, if only to find out why that place is so hauntingly familiar.

But each time Joanna goes under, her sense of dread begins to grow, because part of her already knows why the experience is so familiar, and why she has every reason to be afraid.

Yet just when Joanna thinks she understands, she's in for the biggest surprise of all -- ashattering scenario that will keep you feverishly reading until the final climactic page.
Publisher: New York : Bantam Books, c2001.
ISBN: 9780553580518
Characteristics: 594 p. ; 25 cm.


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Feb 19, 2021

I just discovered Connie Willis with 'Passage' (which is shocking, when I consider that I have been reading SF for 53 years and she has won more Hugo awards than anyone else has, ever) but at first I wasn't sure that this book even was SF; after all, many SF writers cross genres in their work (Kate Wilhelm, for example). Her characters are fully human, fully in the here-and-now (I loved the constantly shifting maze of the hospital - I'm sure I've had appointments there - in several different states, too!) and she is so matter-of-fact with her SF premises that at first I just assumed they were details in a field I don't know much about.
The story itself hooked me immediately; I read it over two days, mostly by ignoring everything else I ought to have been doing, which is a weakness I haven't succumbed to for years! I read fast, but I didn't skip anything, willing the characters to succeed. Usually when the reader knows things the characters don't it's frustrating, but not this time. Very satisfying throughout.
And I agree that despite there being a child in peril, it didn't trigger my usual anxiety on the subject - perhaps because Maisie is the actor in her story, with plenty of agency.

RandomLibrarian Aug 20, 2019

Review excerpt: "'Passage' is one of my favorite books, but if I had known what it was about when I picked it up, I never would have read it. There’s a child in peril, which is a topic that gives me horrible anxiety attacks. The kid, who defies plot moppet status by being awesome in surprising ways, copes with her chronic and possibly terminal illness by reading about disasters. This means there’s a lot of trivia about disasters – cue hours of my time compulsively researching horrible things on Wikipedia while having more anxiety attacks. And bad things happen, so I had anxiety attacks about that. My normal mode of being is to rigorously avoid books that cause me anxiety, as I have enough of that in my daily life.

But to my amazement, this book ended up being incredibly affirming for me in terms of what it means to be alive, and how we help other people, and how we figure things out about the world. I love this book so much that I want to press a copy of it into the hands of everyone I meet. If I could find a way to give it a higher grade than an A+, I would. I love the characters, the trivia, the muddled tone of trying to figure something out that you can't quite piece together. I love the network of people and the sense of a family being created. Did I mention how devoted I am to the characters? And above all, I love it because 'Passage' makes me feel hopeful. It makes me believe in human decency, and it makes me believe in the victory of small things. I love how it balances hope and a sense of tough reality. I love it all."

Mar 02, 2018

I read this novel when it first came out, and from time to time I still find myself thinking about her main premise. She takes a VERY long time to get to the point (I agree the book is too long, as are the other two of hers that I've read), and I would skim parts in the middle that were getting tedious. For anyone who doesn't get why there is so much about the sinking of the "Titanic" near the end of "Passage", I assure you it is relevant. Don't skip that part or you won't get the point. She DOES have one, and I found it quite stunning. As I said above, I still ruminate on it.

Jul 05, 2016

Passage by Connie Willis is a slow, slow buildup to a delightfully unexpected 3rd act that I thought was both audacious and worth the effort to get there (barely). My paperback version is nearly 800 pages. Call me impatient but this story could've easily been told in 300-400 pages. So unless you don't mind what too often feels like plot stalling, know that Passage, expertly written though it is, takes its sweet time.

Apr 04, 2014

This is a brilliant read. I was completely captivated. It's so well-plotted, and the characters are wonderful. Easily her best.

I just love this book.

Dec 29, 2012

I loved the book. Yes, Connie Willis get long, but she looks into things. "To Say Nothing of the Dog" caught me by the title, since it's the subtitle of one of my all-time favourite books. She recreates the atmosphere without false notes. She is brilliant!

Jun 04, 2012

It starts out promisingly with bustling characters and creepy scenes of near death experiences. Then it suddenly veers into preposterous territory and I couldn't take the story seriously anymore.


At first it was really down-to-earth and then suddenly it got creepy. I found the ending confusing.

Apr 13, 2011

Intense and slightly odd novel about research into Near Death Experiences.


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Jun 04, 2012

"The perfect metaphor," he said, "looming up suddenly out of nowhere in the middle of your maiden voyage, unseen until it is nearly upon you, unavoidable even when you try to swerve, unexpected even though there have been warnings all along. Literature, literature is a warning," he said, and then waveringly, "'No, no, my dream was lengthened after life.' Shakespeare wrote that, trying to warn us of what's coming. 'I passed, methought, the melancholy flood, With that sour ferryman which poets write of, Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.'"


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