Passage

( 59 )

Overview

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 ...

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Passage

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A true heir to John Donne, Kurt Gödel and Preston Sturges, a wit with a common touch who’s read more great books, and makes better use of them in her work, than two or three lit professors put together.”
Newsday

“Willis has developed an idea that bears all the authority of a genuine insight: disturbingly plausible, compelling, intensely moving, and ultimately uplifting.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Thoughtful, often fascinating ... Willis makes Lander’s journeys into the afterworld increasingly frightening and compelling.”
Chicago Tribune

Also by Connie Willis:

Lincoln’s Dreams
Doomsday Book
Impossible Things
Uncharted Territory
Remake
Bellwether
Fire Watch
To Say Nothing of the Dog
Miracle and Other Christmas Stories

Available wherever Bantam Books are sold

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a departure from her usual historical theme, Willis (Miracle and Other Christmas Stories) pries open the door at the end of the tunnel of Near Death Experience (NDE) while holding firmly to her endearing brand of exasperated humor. Dr. Joanna Lander, a psychologist separating the truth from the expected in NDEs, is talked into working with Dr. Richard Wright (pun intended), a neurologist testing his theory that NDEs are a survival mechanism by simulating them with psychoactive drugs. When navigating the maze of the hospital in which the cafeteria is never open, dodging Mr. Mandrake who writes popular books on NDEs and fabricates most of his accounts and finding uncorrupted participants for their experiments becomes too difficult, Joanna herself goes under. What she finds on the Other Side almost drives her and Richard apart, while solving the mystery of what it means almost drives her mad. Joanna holds nothing back as she searches her mind and her experience; readers will be able to puzzle out the answers just as she does. That this work is less tightly packed than most of Willis's novels somewhat undercuts the tension. Even so, the plot twists, the casual wit and the enjoyable characters will satisfy fans. The shocking occurrence 100 pages from the end is a good indication of Willis's power as a writer. (May 1) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
When psychologist Joanna Lander agrees to join Dr. Richard Wright's experimental study of near-death experiences, she embarks on a mental and spiritual journey to an unknown but eerily familiar "place" the borderland between life and death. With each successive session, Joanna's sense of fear and uncertainty grows, sparking a sudden insight into the nature of human consciousness as it approaches the end of life. The author of The Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog continues to expand her storytelling repertoire, achieving new dimensions in subtlety and irony while simultaneously constructing an unforgettable tale of courage and self-sacrifice. Highly recommended. [See "Crossing The Final Frontier," an interview with Willis, p. 136. Ed.] Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Willis explores NDEs (Near Death Experiences) and, correspondingly, the afterlife, the human spirit, and the promises and limitations of science and medicine. Joanna Lander, a psychologist studying the phenomena at Mercy General, teams up with newcomer Richard Wright, a neurologist conducting research in support of his theory that NDEs may be a survival strategy and that understanding the brain functions of the dying may be the key to preventing premature death. Their nemesis is Maurice Mandrake who, having authored one best-selling book on NDEs and the afterlife, seeks patients' validations of his foregone conclusions for a sequel. Willis's strength has always been her vivid characters, and Passage contains quite a collection, from Vielle, ER supervisor and Joanna's confidant, to her brilliant, former high school English teacher, now a victim of Alzheimer's disease. Surely, though, few novels possess a character so appealing and memorable as the irrepressible Maisie, a nine-year-old with a severe heart condition. The book's size and its pace, which may seem glacial at times, should not deter readers; Willis wants them to puzzle over clues and debate theories alongside Joanna and Richard, experiencing, as they do, each step from uncertainty to understanding. Willis also makes much use of metaphor and foreshadowing, although nothing prepares readers for the surprising plot twist that occurs two-thirds of the way into the book. This novel will draw not only science fiction fans, but also those who have wondered about their own passage from this existence into the next.-Dori DeSpain, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
New contemporary, near-mainstream outing for the celebrated author of To Say Nothing of the Dog (1997), etc. Joanna Lander, a clinical psychologist at Denver's Mercy General hospital, studies patients who've had Near Death Experiences (NDEs). Her biggest problem is Maurice Mandrake, bestselling author and self-appointed life-after-death expert; Mandrake keeps reaching the NDE subjects before Joanna does, inducing them to confabulate, rendering their accounts useless for Joanna's purposes. Worse, he keeps trying to enlist Joanna to his cause. Then Joanna meets neurologist Richard Wright: he's developing a scientific theory about NDEs, using an experimental drug to simulate NDEs while scanning activity in the brain. Joanna agrees to collaborate with Richard, and quickly identifies several of his subjects as Mandrake spies. Another subject abruptly quits, terrified of what she's experienced. So Joanna agrees to attempt the drug-simulated NDE herself. Like many of those she's interviewed, she experiences a long dark passage with a brilliant golden-white light at the end, and sees shadowy figures swathed in white. Are they angels, as Mandrake insists? In further NDE trips, Joanna explores beyond the door at the end of the tunnel-a place oddly familiar, in a way she can't quite recall. Other NDE reports seem to tie in with hers. But Joanna will find to her horror that the distinction between near death and actual death is by no means well defined, and that she's still at the beginning of a long, extraordinary, chilling, fascinating journey. Once again, Willis has developed an idea that bears all the authority of a genuine insight: disturbingly plausible, compelling,intensely moving,and ultimately uplifting.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553580518
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 800
  • Sales rank: 643,742
  • Product dimensions: 4.21 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet the Author

Connie Willis has won major awards for her novels and short stories. Her first short-story collection, Fire Watch, was a New York Times Notable Book. Her other works include Doomsday Book, Lincoln's Dreams, Bellwether, Impossible Things, Remake, Uncharted Territory, To Say Nothing of the Dog, and Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. Ms. Willis lives in Greeley, Colorado, with her family.
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Read an Excerpt

1

"More light!"
—Goethe's last words

"I heard a noise," Mrs. Davenport said, "and then I was moving through this tunnel."

"Can you describe it?" Joanna asked, pushing the minitape recorder a little closer to her.

"The tunnel?" Mrs. Davenport said, looking around her hospital room, as if for inspiration. "Well, it was dark..."

Joanna waited. Any question, even "How dark was it?" could be a leading one when it came to interviewing people about their near-death experiences, and most people, when confronted with a silence, would talk to fill it, and all the interviewer had to do was wait. Not, however, Mrs. Davenport. She stared at her IV stand for a while, and then looked inquiringly at Joanna.

"Is there anything else you can remember about the tunnel?" Joanna asked.

"No..." Mrs. Davenport said after a minute. "It was dark."

"Dark," Joanna wrote down. She always took notes in case the tape ran out or something went wrong with the recorder, and so she could note the subject's manner and intonation. "Closemouthed," she wrote. "Reluctant." But sometimes the reluctant ones turned out to be the best subjects if you just had patience. "You said you heard a noise," Joanna said. "Can you describe it?"

"A noise?" Mrs. Davenport said vaguely.

If you just had the patience of Job, Joanna corrected. "You said," she repeated, consulting her notes, "'I heard a noise, and then I was moving through this tunnel.' Did you hear the noise before you entered the tunnel?"

"No..." Mrs. Davenport said, frowning, "...yes. I'm not sure. It was a sort of ringing..." She looked questioningly at Joanna. "Or maybe a buzzing?" Joanna kept her face carefully impassive. An encouraging smile or a frown could be leading, too. "A buzzing, I think," Mrs. Davenport said after a minute.

"Can you describe it?"

I should have had something to eat before I started this, Joanna thought. It was after twelve, and she hadn't had anything for breakfast except coffee and a Pop-Tart. But she had wanted to get to Mrs. Davenport before Maurice Mandrake did, and the longer the interval between the NDE and the interview, the more confabulation there was.

"Describe it?" Mrs. Davenport said irritably. "A buzzing."

It was no use. She was going to have to ask more specific questions, leading or not, or she would never get anything out of her. "Was the buzzing steady or intermittent?"

"Intermittent?" Mrs. Davenport said, confused.

"Did it stop and start? Like someone buzzing to get into an apartment? Or was it a steady sound like the buzzing of a bee?"

Mrs. Davenport stared at her IV stand some more. "A bee," she said finally.

"Was the buzzing loud or soft?"

"Loud," she said, but uncertainly. "It stopped."

I'm not going to be able to use any of this, Joanna thought. "What happened after it stopped?"

"It was dark," Mrs. Davenport said, "and then I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, and—"

Joanna's pager began to beep. Wonderful, she thought, fumbling to switch it off. This is all I need. She should have turned it off before she started, in spite of Mercy General's rule about keeping it on at all times. The only people who ever paged her were Vielle and Mr. Mandrake, and it had ruined more than one NDE interview.

"Do you have to go?" Mrs. Davenport asked.

"No. You saw a light—"

"If you have to go..."

"I don't," Joanna said firmly, sticking the pager back in her pocket without looking at it. "It's nothing. You saw a light. Can you describe it?"

"It was golden," Mrs. Davenport said promptly. Too promptly. And she looked smugly pleased, like a child who knows the answer.

"Golden," Joanna said.

"Yes, and brighter than any light I'd ever seen, but it didn't hurt my eyes. It was warm and comforting, and as I looked into it I could see it was a being, an Angel of Light."

"An Angel of Light," Joanna said with a sinking feeling.

"Yes, and all around the angel were people I'd known who had died. My mother and my poor dear father and my uncle Alvin. He was in the navy in World War II. He was killed at Guadalcanal, and the Angel of Light said—"

"Before you went into the tunnel," Joanna interrupted, "did you have an out-of-body experience?"

"No," she said, just as promptly. "Mr. Mandrake said people sometimes do, but all I had was the tunnel and the light."

Mr. Mandrake. Of course. She should have known. "He interviewed me last night," Mrs. Davenport said. "Do you know him?"

Oh, yes, Joanna thought.

"He's a famous author," Mrs. Davenport said. "He wrote The Light at the End of the Tunnel. It was a best-seller, you know."

"Yes, I know," Joanna said.

"He's working on a new one," Mrs. Davenport said. "Messages from the Other Side. You know, you'd never know he was famous. He's so nice. He has a wonderful way of asking questions."

He certainly does, Joanna thought. She'd heard him: "When you went through the tunnel, you heard a buzzing sound, didn't you? Would you describe the light you saw at the end of the tunnel as golden? Even though it was brighter than anything you'd ever seen, it didn't hurt your eyes, did it? When did you meet the Angel of Light?" Leading wasn't even the word.

And smiling, nodding encouragingly at the answers he wanted. Pursing his lips, asking, "Are you sure it wasn't more of a buzzing than a ringing?" Frowning, asking concernedly, "And you don't remember hovering above the operating table? You're sure?"

They remembered it all for him, leaving their body and entering the tunnel and meeting Jesus, remembered the Light and the Life Review and the Meetings with Deceased Loved Ones. Conveniently forgetting the sights and sounds that didn't fit and conjuring up ones that did. And completely obliterating whatever had actually occurred.

It was bad enough having Moody's books out there and Embraced by the Light and all the other near-death-experience books and TV specials and magazine articles telling people what they should expect to see without having someone right here in Mercy General putting ideas in her subjects' heads.

"Mr. Mandrake told me except for the out-of-body thing," Mrs. Davenport said proudly, "my near-death experience was one of the best he'd ever taken."

Taken is right, Joanna thought. There was no point in going on with this. "Thank you, Mrs. Davenport," she said. "I think I have enough."

"But I haven't told you about the heavenly choir yet, or the Life Review," Mrs. Davenport, suddenly anything but reluctant, said. "The Angel of Light made me look in this crystal, and it showed me all the things I'd ever done, both good and bad, my whole life."

Which she will now proceed to tell me, Joanna thought. She sneaked her hand into her pocket and switched her pager back on. Beep, she willed it. Now.

"...and then the crystal showed me the time I got locked out of my car, and I looked all through my purse and my coat pockets for the key..."

Now that Joanna wanted the beeper to go off, it remained stubbornly silent. She needed one with a button you could press to make it beep in emergencies. She wondered if Radio Shack had one.

"...and then it showed my going into the hospital and my heart stopping," Mrs. Davenport said, "and then the light started to blink on and off, and the Angel handed me a telegram, just like the one we got when Alvin was killed, and I said, 'Does this mean I'm dead?' and the Angel said, 'No, it's a message telling you you must return to your earthly life.' Are you getting all this down?"

"Yes," Joanna said, writing, "Cheeseburger, fries, large Coke."

"'It is not your time yet,' the Angel of Light said, and the next thing I knew I was back in the operating room."

"If I don't get out of here soon," Joanna wrote, "the cafeteria will be closed, so please, somebody, page me."

Her beeper finally, blessedly, went off during Mrs. Davenport's description of the light as "like shining prisms of diamonds and sapphires and rubies," a verbatim quote from The Light at the End of the Tunnel. "I'm sorry, I've got to go," Joanna said, pulling the pager out of her pocket. "It's an emergency." She snatched up her recorder and switched it off.

"Where can I get in touch with you if I remember anything else about my NDE?"

"You can have me paged," Joanna said, and fled. She didn't even check to see who was paging her till she was safely out of the room. It was a number she didn't recognize, from inside the hospital. She went down to the nurses' station to call it.

"Do you know whose number this is?" she asked Eileen, the charge nurse.

"Not offhand," Eileen said. "Is it Mr. Mandrake's?"

"No, I've got Mr. Mandrake's number," Joanna said grimly. "He managed to get to Mrs. Davenport before I did. That's the third interview this week he's ruined."

"You're kidding," Eileen said sympathetically. She was still looking at the number on the pager. "It might be Dr. Wright's. He was here looking for you earlier."

"Dr. Wright?" Joanna said, frowning. The name didn't sound familiar. From force of habit, she said, "Can you describe him?"

"Tall, young, blond—"

"Cute," Tish, who'd just come up to the desk with a chart, said.

The description didn't fit anybody Joanna knew. "Did he say what he wanted?"

Eileen shook her head. "He asked me if you were the person doing NDE research."

"Wonderful," Joanna said. "He probably wants to tell me how he went through a tunnel and saw a light, all his dead relatives, and Maurice Mandrake."

"Do you think so?" Eileen said doubtfully. "I mean, he's a doctor."

"If only that were a guarantee against being a nutcase," Joanna said. "You know Dr. Abrams from over at Mt. Sinai? Last week he suckered me into lunch by promising to talk to the hospital board about letting me do interviews over there, and then proceeded to tell me about his NDE, in which he saw a tunnel, a light, and Moses, who told him to come back and read the Torah out loud to people. Which he did. All the way through lunch."

"You're kidding," Eileen said.

"But this Dr. Wright was cute," Tish put in.

"Unfortunately, that's not a guarantee either," Joanna said. "I met a very cute intern last week who told me he'd seen Elvis in his NDE." She glanced at her watch. The cafeteria would still be open, just barely. "I'm going to lunch," she said. "If Dr. Wright shows up again, tell him it's Mr. Mandrake he wants."

She started down to the cafeteria in the main building, taking the service stairs instead of the elevator to avoid running into either one of them. She supposed Dr. Wright was the one who had paged her earlier, when she was talking to Mrs. Davenport. On the other hand, it might have been Vielle, paging her to tell her about a patient who'd coded and might have had an NDE. She'd better check. She went down to the ER.

It was jammed, as usual, wheelchairs everywhere, a boy with a hand wrapped in a red-soaked dish towel sitting on an examining table, two women talking rapidly and angrily in Spanish to the admitting nurse, someone in one of the trauma rooms screaming obscenities in English at the top of her lungs. Joanna worked her way through the tangle of IV poles and crash carts, looking for Vielle's blue scrubs and her black, worried-looking face. She always looked worried in the ER, whether she was responding to a code or removing a splinter, and Joanna often wondered what effect it had on her patients.

There she was, over by the station desk, reading a chart and looking worried. Joanna maneuvered past a wheelchair and a stack of blankets to get to her. "Did you try to page me?" she asked.

Vielle shook her blue-capped head. "It's like a tomb down here. Literally. A gunshot, two ODs, one AIDS-related pneumonia. All DOA, except one of the overdoses."

She put down the chart and motioned Joanna into one of the trauma rooms. The examining table had been moved out and a bank of electrical equipment moved in, amid a tangle of dangling wires and cables. "What's this?" Joanna asked.

"The communications room," Vielle said, "if it ever gets finished. So we can be in constant contact with the ambulances and the chopper and give medical instructions to the paramedics on their way here. That way we'll know if our patients are DOA before they get here. Or armed." She pulled off her surgical cap and shook out her tangle of narrow black braids. "The overdose who wasn't DOA tried to shoot one of the orderlies getting him on the examining table. He was on this new drug, rogue, that's making the rounds. Luckily he'd taken too much, and died before he could pull the trigger."

"You've got to put in a request to transfer to Peds," Joanna said.

Vielle shuddered. "Kids are even worse than druggers. Besides, if I transferred, who'd notify you of NDEs before Mandrake got hold of them?"

Joanna smiled. "You are my only hope. By the way, do you happen to know a Dr. Wright?"

"I've been looking for him for years," Vielle said.

"Well, I don't think this is the one," Joanna said. "He wouldn't be one of the interns or residents in the ER, would he?"

"I don't know," Vielle said. "We get so many through here, I don't even bother to learn their names. I just call all of them 'Stop that,' or, 'What do you think you're doing?' I'll check." They went back out into the ER. Vielle grabbed a clipboard and drew her finger down a list. "Nope. Are you sure he works here at Mercy General?"

"No," Joanna said. "But if he comes looking for me, I'm up on seven-west."

"And what about if an NDEer shows up and I need to find you?"

Joanna grinned. "I'm in the cafeteria."

"I'll page you," Vielle said. "This afternoon should be busy."

"Why?"

"Heart attack weather," she said and, at Joanna's blank look, pointed toward the emergency room entrance. "It's been snowing since nine this morning."

Joanna looked wonderingly in the direction Vielle was pointing, though she couldn't see the outside windows from here. "I've been in curtained patient rooms all morning," she said. And in windowless offices and hallways and elevators.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 59 )
Rating Distribution

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(30)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 59 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Another great book from Ms. Willis!

    PASSAGE is a long book, but then, it needed to be. Because there is a lot going on between it's covers, and it's an ultimately very satisfying and emotionally moving read. It's neatly divided into three parts. The first is a rather leisurely introduction, which establishes the important characters (all of whom have important functions in the plot), and their relationships with each other. The tension really begins in Part Two, which ends with a plot twist too devious to spoil. In Part Three, the book shifts into overdrive, and it all ends with a climax that I completely adored. I avoided reading this book for quite a while, because the subject matter of Near Death Experiences just didn't interest me, but I finally gave in and read the book, and I'm really glad that I did!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    My favorite Connie Willis book (and one of my favorites overall)

    A fascinating topic, well written, with humor and dry wit. You'll stay up all night reading. Don't miss this book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2001

    Disappointing

    It's a fascinating subject to be sure. But Willis is lost here. Something else- it seems that when Willis writes with an American accent instead of a British one, the magic dies... Based on the other Willis books I've read (5), and what other reviewers said here, I got the book. I am VERY disappointed. The main lead in the book is a one-dimensional creature and the behavior of the supporting cast is not logical. Chapter one could be Chapter fifteen and nobody would know the difference. I am VERY VERY disappointed.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Awesome book!

    I have this in hardback but am seriously considering buying this for my nook as it deals with some very interesting topics and is well written. I also cannot understand the bad reviews. Purhaps the subjects do not appeal to all rraders, but this is a great book and I have suggested it to many people.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2011

    Brilliant!!

    Not the easiest book to read as there is a very complicated message being told. However it is so intricately exicuted I would have to say it is one of the best reads I have had the pleasure of getting tangled up in. Those that have given a negative review I'm afraid just don't understand it. No disrespect intended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2011

    What gives?

    I don't understand the negative reviews of this book. It's one of the most amazing pieces of fiction I've read (and reread) in the last ten years. I pick it up at least once a year to peruse it again, astonished each time at the things I missed before. The subject matter is brilliantly handled, and the race toward the final reveal keeps me reading well into the wee hours of the morning. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2005

    Believable

    One of the most important characteristics of good Science Fiction and Fantasy is that one shouldn't have to stretch too far to believe what is written. Such is the case with 'Passage.' Connie Willis builds the suspense slowly, and an impatient reader might have a problem with that. But she uses that slow buildup to let us become familiar with her well-developed characters. Maisie, Mr. Briarley, Kit, Vielle, and even Mr. Mandrake all seem familiar, and are very much like people I have met, so I found them to be entirely realistic characters. It is possible that some readers with particularly strong religious beliefs might have some problems with Ms. Willis' premise regarding the Near Death Experience (NDE), but the conclusion of the book leaves the issue open, so it should offend nobody. I liked this book, as I have liked all of the Connie Willis books I have read. It is recommended reading for those with a little patience and an open mind.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2004

    Not one of Willis' best.

    I've read most of Connie Willis' other books, and she's always been one of my favorite authors. That said, this is the most boring, annoying book she's ever written. I still can't make my way through the whole thing -- all Joanna Lander does is skitter around the hallways of a hospital and hide from people. The first 300 pages don't do anything, and if anything, rather than care for Lander, you'll end up hating her halfway through just because this book is about 400 pages too long.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2004

    Exciting Thrill-Ride of a Story

    I happened upon this book and found the topic fascinating. I love medical mystery/thrillers so I knew that I'd enjoy this one. Contrary to most of the reviews, I don't think it should've been trimmed in length. After finishing the book, I flashed back to all of the little delicious plot bunny hints that the author expertly dropped along the way for the readers to find...like breadcrumbs. What I think I loved most about the length of the book is that you really fall in love w/ all of the main characters, Joanna, Richard, Veilla, Kit, and Maisie. When I then finally hit the traumatic last part of the book, I really cared about what happened to everyone and I cried several times (something I'm generally not prone to do.) My only complaint is Willis's annoying continuous use of over utilizing the word 'said' for every instance when someone says something- even when they're answering or asking a question. Frankly, if that's my only real complaint, I guess I'm not complaining much. Great read, and although the ending is vague- it leaves one thinking, something also that is rare in fiction thriller books.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2002

    Very well written

    I enjoyed 'Passage' because of the in depth research that Connie Willis had done. The details and the things she knew convinced me of the story line. It was a page turner for me and although long, it was quite necessary to draw the reader into the story. I was quite attached to the characters and so that made everything much more real. If you enjoy Connie Willis this is a must-read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2001

    400 pages too many

    This would have made a great short story - repeat - short story. Willis spends half the book having her main character avoid other characters by hiding in stairwells, and running around a maze of hallways in this hospital setting. The prose is basic and boring. The premise - having a near death experience on the Titanic is interesting, but the whole Titanic thing has been so overdone I just couldn't get excited about this either. Sorry folks. If you want to read this save your money and borrow it from the library.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2001

    Willis's best yet!

    Passage is an enthralling, fast-action, can't put it down novel. A sure winner of another Hugo for Willis. Willis teases the reader constantly with the unexpected. You are never quite sure where the line falls between fact and fiction. Passage deserves to be widely read. The person who recommended this to me advised me to call in sick, take the phone off the hook and plan to do nothing for a day but read this book from cover to cover. Good advice.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2001

    In Willis' Masterpiece, Everything Is There For a Reason

    This is Connie Willis' most profound work - a moving and uplifting work about the process of dying: in particular, the 4-6 minutes before brain-death occurs. It is also a tribute to the courage and unflinching honesty of the scientist. Dr. Joanna Lander is a cognitive psychologist studying NDE's (Near-Death-Experiences). She is thwarted in her attempts to get unbiased descriptions of NDE's from recalled-to-life patients at Mercy General Hospital by her nemesis Maurice Mandrake, a popular new-age writer. He biases their reports by 'suggesting' that their NDE's have been warm cozy experiences filled with angels, golden light, etc. Fortunately, Joanna teams up with Dr. Richard Wright, a cognitive psychologist who has found a drug which triggers NDE's in the lab, allowing them to engage in a scientific study of the Near-Death-Experience. What they find is anything but warm and cozy. Connie Willis' description of the process of brain-death, although harrowing and completely non-spiritual, is ultimately a profoundly moving tribute to the courage of the human mind/body. In this book, one person's mind is a universe, and its last few minutes are an epic odyssey. A WARNING: a lot of readers are going to find the first half of the book tedious, as there is a great deal of time spent describing Dr.Lander wandering about labyrinthine corridors in the hospital,or trying unsuccessfully to reach people with beepers and voicemail, or to hunt down information. Nobody seems to have cellphones or use the Internet. One reader even complained that reading this book was like having an NDE. DON'T GET FRUSTRATED! It seems to me that the above reader was more correct than he realized - that the entire novel indeed is a metaphor for the NDE itself - that CONNIE WILLIS IS TRYING TO GIVE US THE EXPERIENCE OF HAVING AN NDE. The endless corridors of Mercy General (or Joanna's high school) are a metaphor for the neural pathways of the brain. For example, Mercy General is three hospitals imperfectly combined into one building by a series of passageways that don't quite match up,(and her high school has three levels) just as the brain is composed of three parts - cerebrum, cerebellum, and amygdula - imperfectly joined together. If you try testing this hypothesis as you read the book, you'll find the first half much more engrossing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2014

    Rational Scifi about NDEs

    I loved the systematic, rational approach to death as well as the fantastical ending that leaves readers with a plausible explanation or total fantasy depending on which they are inclined toward. A must-read for agnostics who find themselves wondering about the dying process. However, this book WILL give you the creeps, but if you didn't like a little discomfort in your reading material you wouldn't have chosen a Connie Willis novel...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2013

    Disappointing


    Disappointing

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2013

    Thrilling

    One of my favorite books. I was hooked the entire way through.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2011

    Great

    good review

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2011

    Great

    good review

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  • Posted October 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Tedious and Boring with no payoff at the end.

    Boring, horrible characters. Monotonous dialogue and descriptions. Hundreds of pages where NOTHING HAPPENS at all.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2003

    Riveting

    I was fascinated by this story. The characters were well-rounded and believable. I was shocked by the turn of events near the end, and as stunned as Joanna. The ending caused me some distress. I was confused. But overall I would recommend the book to all. Very well written; I will read more of her books....

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