Passage by Connie Willis

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Synopsis

One of those rare, unforgettable novels that are as chilling as they are insightful, as thought-provoking as they are terrifying, award-winning author Connie Willis's Passage is an astonishing blend of relentless suspense and cutting-edge science unlike anything you've ever read before.

It is the electrifying story of a psychologist who has devoted her life to tracking death. But when she volunteers for a research project that simulates the near-death experience, she will either solve life's greatest mystery -- or fall victim to its greatest terror.

At Mercy General Hospital, Dr. Joanna Lander will soon be paged -- not to save a life, but to interview a patient just back from the dead. A psychologist specializing in near-death experiences, Joanna has spent two years recording the experiences of those who have been declared clinically dead and lived to tell about it.

It's research on the fringes of ordinary science, but Joanna is about to get a boost from an unexpected quarter. A new doctor has arrived at Mercy General, one with the power to give Joanna 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. Dr. Wright is convinced that the NDE is a survival mechanism and that if only doctors understood how it worked, they could someday delay the dying process, or maybe even reverse it. He can use the expertise of a psychologist of Joanna Lander's standing to lend credibility to his study.

But he soon needs Joanna for more than just her reputation. When his key volunteer suddenly drops out of the study, Joanna finds herself offering to become Richard's next subject. After all, who better than she, a trained psychologist, to document the experience?

Her first NDE is as fascinating as she imagined it would be -- so astounding that she knows she must go back, if only to find out why this 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....

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.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Connie Willis

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Connie Willis has won six Nebula Awards (more than any other science fiction writer), six Hugo Awards, and for her first novel, Lincoln's Dreams, John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Her novel Doomsday Book won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards, and her first short-story collection, Fire Watch, was a New York Times Notable Book. Her other works include To Say Nothing of the Dog, Bellwether, Impossible Things, Remake, Uncharted Territory and Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. Ms. Willis lives in Greeley, Colorado, with her family and is hard at work on her next novel, Passage.
 
Published December 9, 2009 by Bantam. 800 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Science & Math, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

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AV Club

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A mid-book twist, however, takes the story into darker and more memorable territory, helping turn Passage into a complex, finely crafted, haunting story that makes the light at the end of the tunnel impossible to take lightly.

Apr 19 2002 | Read Full Review of Passage

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