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  • Rhonda Allen

Passage - by Connie Willis

Rating: B

Joan Landers is a physician who wants to find out what people who have died and then been resuscitated remember of their experience. What common memories of their experience do they have? Is there significance to those memories. Her difficulty is recording their experience before their memories can be tainted by others who can implant false memories. As time goes on she finds herself more and more finding significance in their memories (which are often very vague and fragmented). They all remember a "sound" though none of them can really describe and all remember being in the dark in what seems to be a passage with a door. Dr. Landers joins up with a biochemist who has developed a drug and process that mimic the near death experience in the parts of the brain he is sure is the origin of the experience. They use it with several volunteers who at first seem fine with their experience but after a while the volunteers are more and more hesitant to continue. Eventually Dr. Landers volunteers. The book is full of things we have all experienced - deja vu, fragmented memories that assume a significance we can't understand. The end of the book is shocking but satisfying and what Dr. Landers discovers is sublime. I would have given a much higher rating as the writing was exceptional and story riveting and chilling.....but there was more repetition that necessary though I could understand her frustration. The hospital was being renovated with its many floors and stairways were blocked off, making her efforts to get from Point A to Point B every few chapters both repetitive and frustrating, weighing the story down.

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