Book Reviews of Passage

Author: Connie Willis
ISBN-13: 9780553111248
ISBN-10: 0553111248
Publication Date: 5/1/2001
Pages: 608
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.

3.6 stars, based on 32 ratings
Publisher: Bantam
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

35 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Passage on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
I am someone who loves books and reading. I forced myself to read this one all the way to the end, only because I am determined to give a book a chance. This book was one of the most tedious books I've read in I don't know how long, and that includes my postgrad textbooks! Ms. Willis could easily have tossed about half of this book out and still had a decent plot; how do you spell VERBOSE? Several of the "conversations" were just little rabbit trails that led nowhere plot-wise and could so easily have been eliminated. Another thing that began to get on my last nerve was her constant use of the word "confabulate". If I never hear that word again in this lifetime, it will not be soon enough! My advice: don't waste your valuable point on this book. If you think you must read it, check it out of the library.
reviewed Passage on + 44 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
This is still another book read recently that sorely needed editing. Does a reader really need repeated tedious references to the intricacies of the hospital's corridors? I got the idea after the initial explanation.
Whenever I'm hit over the head with repeated narrative, I always feel as though this is done simply to pad the text. Are they paid by the word?
I have almost always enjoyed Connie Willis' work. She has interesting concepts and fleshed-out characters. This, unfortunately, cannot be on my recommended list.
reviewed Passage on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
I wish that I had read more of these book reviews before starting Passage! To describe this novel as tedious is generous. It was probably 300 pages longer than necessary. The characters were not well developed, particularly the male lead, Richard. I think that pretty much the only thing that he contributed to the novel was staring at brain scans. My brain started to flatline the further I kept reading. The idea of a novel based around near death experiences is fascinating; unfortunately, Passage does not deliver.
reviewed Passage on + 139 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A serious fantasy (wih some hilarious sequences) with a bittersweet ending about two researchers studying near-death experiences. I recommend reading Spook by Mary Roach first.
reviewed Passage on + 43 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Connie Willis writes science fiction for the (usually) nonscience fiction reader. Her books always raise interesting questions and keep the reader thinking long after the book has been finished. The beginning of this is a bit slow, as she establishes her charecters, setting and situation,describing the researchers, their project and the various problems they must overcome in their day to day work. However, sticking with the book pays off,as Joanna, the main character is pulled deeper and deeper into the project. Willis often ends her books on a slightly melancholy note, and this is no exception. Don't be scared off though, the ending is appropriate to the book and fits better than a ridiculously cheery happy ending would.
reviewed Passage on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This one is a bit different from Willis's time travel books. But still exceptional writing, compelling characters (the absent-minded doctor is perfectly developed). And the use of the Titanic as her metaphor for life and death is brilliant. She has pretty much run the gamut now, from farce (Bellweather)to action (To Say Nothing of the Dog) to tragedy (Passage and Lincoln's Dreams). If you haven't read her book Remake yet, get it and read it -- she uses comedy to tell us what the golden age of Hollywood was really like.
reviewed Passage on + 16 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This started out as a great book, very thought provoking and different - it could have gone to great places but at the end it just kind of petered out. It's a good read and definetly gets you thinking about the afterlife - if only you could add some fire to the ending.
reviewed Passage on + 29 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Willis is probably best know for her rather lighthearted SF books which, among other things, satirize workplace bureaucracy and everyday annoyances.

She's in a more serious mode here, and she handles the big issue--mortality--surprisingly well. A charming and in some ways daring book. The SF elements are well done--the neuroscience is plausible enough and there's lots of interesting stuff woven in about the Titanic and the people aboard. Not "high literature," but evidence that genre fiction can have some interesting things to say about serious issues.
reviewed Passage on + 47 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I have been a fan of Connie Willis for many years, but have just started catching up on her books of late. I like the premise of this one, but I just could not get through it.
reviewed Passage on + 139 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A serious fantasy (wih some hilarious sequences) with a bittersweet ending about two researchers studying near-death experiences. I recommend reading Spook by Mary Roach first.
reviewed Passage on + 204 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A story of research into near-death-experiences, this book was a combination of helter-skelter panic and rushing, and an almost-mystery story taken on by the lead researchers.

The premise is intriguing. The characters are definitely people you root for (unless you're not supposed to).

But a large part of the story seems to be the symbolic presence of an unplanned building layout in the researcher's hospital. Getting from one place to another in this hospital is a chore beyond annoying, and Willis spends far too much time describing how awful the layout actually is. It *does* seem to be symbolic of the chaos in a dying mind, but egad. Too many words describe it.

The book took a long time to finish. Partially this was my own holiday schedule interfering, but it would have been nice to see it tidied up more quickly. It took a lot more words to complete than it really should have.

Even so. I liked it. 4 of 5 stars.
reviewed Passage on
Connie Willis is one of my favorite writers. Passage is funny and insightful. I also recommend the very funny To Say Nothing of the Dog and the more somber Doomsday Book.
reviewed Passage on + 92 more book reviews
This book scared the pants off me. I admit to skimming over a lot of the medical/technical background info on the research, that might have been a little over done. It seemed like the hospital/maze bit and the constant avoidance of certain characters was a little much, but when the "trips" started it got pretty intense and I didn't want to stop reading. I am still puzzling over the ending. If that is any idea of what it is actually like, and if I understood what Willis was trying to say - I'm not going!
reviewed Passage on + 52 more book reviews
This was interesting and even riveting in spots, up to a point. After too many words about the convolutions of the hospital's layout, and rambling from a nice old WWII vet, it began to lose my interest. Editors, anywhere? But it's worth reading; don't beat yourself up if you skip a lot toward the end.
reviewed Passage on
Great book, very intersting subject (near death experience)
reviewed Passage on + 76 more book reviews
As a friend suggested, this book would be better if about 200 pages were edited out of it. There's just too much repetition of material that does not move the story forward, and this is a common thing in Willis's novels--that purposeless, frenetic activity going on all around.

But the story is compelling, and the ending hopeful, if ambiguous (as perhaps it ought to be). As a Christian, I was frustrated with many of the presuppositions--mocking those who believe in a spiritual existence beyond death, with all the best characters being "agnostic" if not overtly skeptical. The characters are also very limited, even the "stars," who have almost no existence outside the workplace or, in one case, a home. For example, the main character has many meals through the book, but almost all of them are from vending machines, and not one at home, that I can recall. I expect those who know WWII history, Titanic history, hospital routine, or neuroscience are at first attracted and then probably frustrated at errors I had an inkling of as I read.

But I hate to miss something good, and so I plodded along through too many pages to get to what was a pretty satisfying finish. I'm usually pretty picky about my reading in advance, and I expect that this is a much better novel than the usual out there. So enjoy! :-)
reviewed Passage on + 85 more book reviews
I liked this book a lot. Gave it 4 stars. It's the story of a psychologist, Dr. Joanna Lander, who is researching near death experiences (NDEs), along with another doctor, Dr. Richard Wright, in the hospital where she works.

She records the experiences of those who have been declared clinically dead and lived to tell about it. Dr. Wright has come up with a way to manufacture the near-death experience using a psychoactive drug and when their list of test subjects gets rather small, Dr. Lander volunteers to become a test subject herself.

She becomes more and more obsessed with her own NDE and keeps going under multiple times to learn the secret.

And just when you think you know where she is going, Willis throws in the biggest surprise of all -- a shattering scenario that will keep you feverishly reading until the final climactic page is turned.

The reason it's only a 4-star review is that the author does repeat herself quite a bit during the book and at over 800 pages long, it's just too darn long.
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This is such a great book- suspenseful, thoughtful, and addicting.
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I loved this book. Loved it. There was one event that happened to a character that I'm not super happy about (trying to keep it spoiler free), but I do completely see why it was necessary for the story. The middle section of the book actually made my pulse start to race because it was so exciting. I cried a little. Some laughter. Loved the metaphors. Just an overall excellent book.
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Thought-provoking and touching - a great read.
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this is my first book by this author and it will not be the last.
the premise of the book is 2 doctors doing research into near death experiences. how this differs from the spiritual ones you have read,it is about chemically induced NDE's.
this book has good humor and tends to be more of a science/medical fiction rather than fact.
it is a long 787 pages and in the middle i foound myself saying get to the point....but i am very happy i stuck with it as the last 200 pages move very quickly
reviewed Passage on + 774 more book reviews
Connie Willis excels at meshing humorously satirical commentary on interpersonal relationships with insights into the human condition that are so true they almost hurt. In 'Passage,' Joanna Lander is a researcher at a large hospital investigating near-death experiences. Her work is complicated by the difficulty of interviewing people who are near-death, but especially by the new-age charlatan who insists on being considered her colleague, Dr. Mandrake. Much of Joanna's time consists of trying to avoid Mandrake, but then she meets Dr. Wright, who has found a way, he believes, to simulate the near-death experience using drugs. Intrigued, Joanna joins him on his project - but a comedy of errors results in the project having not nearly enough volunteers, and Joanna herself decides to go under, and experience the NDE. Gradually, the mood changes from comedic to an increasingly frantic, obsessive, chaotic experience, as Joanna believes she is discovering truths about the NDE - but strangely, her experiences all seem to be tied to the Titanic disaster. People can't go to the sinking Titanic when they die - can they? She has the elusive feeling that she is missing some vital connection, always just on the edge of her consciousness.
reviewed Passage on + 269 more book reviews
Insightful - had me digging out my old english lit books to look up references...
reviewed Passage on + 31 more book reviews
Thoughtful, fascinating, the character's journeys into the afterworld are increasingly frightening and compelling.
reviewed Passage on + 23 more book reviews
It felt like it took me ages to finish this book, even though it took just the weekend.

Like other readers, I could have done without the endless descriptions of the hospital. I also think that the rambling of Joanna's inner thoughts and dialogue could have been cleaned up a bit.

I hate to say it about Connie Willis, since I love her other novels so much, but this book was a real bore. The only parts that were interesting were the descriptions of NDEs.

I especially found the last part of the book to be a real drag. I kepy saying to myself, "Get to the point, Connie!"

I wish this was a short story, rather than a novel. It probably would have made more sense to keep it short and sweet and yet still creepy.

Overall, I would not recommend this book as it is now. A condensed version? Yes, please!
reviewed Passage on + 1054 more book reviews
Willis has a great idea here, setting her story among medical researchers looking for the secret -- and possible lifesaving use -- of near-death experiences, but she loads it down with so much frantic action and dream symbols that it's a real struggle to get through. There's an interesting twist at the end, but even that drags on interminably. Close, but no cigar.
reviewed Passage on + 79 more book reviews
Haunting story
reviewed Passage on + 16 more book reviews
I've read lots of Connie Willis's books and this one is maybe one of the most memorable. It deals with the "near death" experience as a couple of researchers are studying it - or trying to study it. In this story everyone seems to have a shipboard experience and most resemble the Titanic, so if you have an interest in the Titanic disaster, and you enjoy Connie Willis, this is a must read for you!
reviewed Passage on + 24 more book reviews
A fairly interesting but tedious exploration of near-death experiences and what they mean. It has some original ideas but is too long and has characters that are too often annoying. Unlike some of Connie Willis' books, the ending didn't make up for the overly detailed and lengthy rest of the book. To put it bluntly, I was thinking, "That's it? Thhhhppppp. :P" I can't recommend it.
reviewed Passage on + 3 more book reviews
Very engaging
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This was a fantastic book.
reviewed Passage on + 31 more book reviews
A tunnel, a light, a door...and beyond it...the unimaginable.

Great science fiction reading from Hugo and Nebula winning author Connie Willis.
reviewed Passage on + 44 more book reviews
This is still another book read recently that sorely needed editing. Does a reader really need repeated tedious references to the intricacies of the hospital's corridors? I got the idea after the initial explanation.
Whenever I'm hit over the head with repeated narrative, I always feel as though this is done simply to pad the text. Are they paid by the word?
I have almost always enjoyed Connie Willis' work. She has interesting concepts and fleshed-out characters. This, unfortunately, cannot be on my recommended list.
reviewed Passage on + 12 more book reviews
A psychologist studying near-death experiences and trying to induce them in patients to confirm their existence.
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Near death experience takes a woman to the past