Thursday, 13 October 2011

Book Review: Passage by Connie Willis

by Connie Willis
Bantam Books
Reviewer's purchased copy.


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.

Reviewed by Annette Gisby, author of The Chosen

Psychologist Dr. Joanna Lander has spent the last two years at Mercy Hospital studying those patients who have "died" and come back, those who have had a near death experience, or NDE.

She isn't the only one, the hospital corridors are also haunted by a spiritualist, and Joanna suspects, fraud. He is convinced that the NDE's are totally spiritual, is it coincidence that he also writes books with such titles as The Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Joanna thinks that NDE's might be caused by chemical reactions as the brain dies, or maybe it's some type of survivial mechanism, and when Dr. Richard Wright asks her to become part of his scientific study, where he can induce NDEs with chemicals, Joanna jumps at the chance.

Volunteers and funding soon dry up, and Joanna becomes the guinea pig herself, feeling a sense of wonder that she will get to experience what she's been hearing second-hand.

But although Joanna expereinces what most people have reported, the light, the tunnel, she discovers something else as well. A part of her knows why everything seems so familiar, and why she has every reason to be afraid...

Every so often a book a book comes along and just sweeps you up and you forget everything else in your quest to finish it. Passage is such a book, it is a fairly long book, but it only took me two days to finish it, I needed to see the next part.

Ms. Willis has the knack of leaving something hanging at the end of each chapter, and you have no option but to read on to discover what is going to happen next. You cared about the characters and needed to know what adventures they were going to get into next.

A book you may not want to put down.

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