Is Fox’s New Show ‘The Passage’ Based on a Book?

Are vampires the new zombies? On the new Fox show The Passage, a global pandemic triggers an apocalypse. But unlike The Walking Dead, where a zombie plague triggers the collapse of civilization, on this show it’s vampires (or vampire-like creatures) that do the dirty work.

In The Passage, a young girl named Amy (Saniyya Sidney) is selected to be a test subject for a mysterious government experiment called Project NOAH. Scientists are trying to develop a virus that will wipe out all disease, but that same virus could also wipe out the entire human race. A sympathetic federal agent named Brad Wolgast (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) helps her escape the scientists’ clutches, while earlier test subjects begin to show their true powers.

The Passage is based on a book by Justin Cronin

The Passage is based on a three-book series by Justin Cronin. The first book, The Passage, was published in 2010. It was followed by The Twelve in 2012 and The City of Mirrors in 2016.

Cronin has said that he was inspired to write The Passage after his daughter suggested he work on a book about “a girl who saves the world.” The pair worked on developing the story during their runs together, and eventually, he decided to sit down and turn their ideas into a novel.

How is the TV show different from the book?

While the show apparently hews fairly close to its source material, there have been some changes made for television.

For one, in the TV version, the scientists’ experiments are part of an effort to prevent a global pandemic. In the book, they’re attempting to breed a group of powerful soldiers.

The show also slows down the story and eliminates the time jumps that are present in the novel. The first section of the novel The Passage deals with the time just before the apocalypse, while other parts explore what’s happened many decades after the world as we know it ends.

Showrunner Liz Heldens explains some of the reasons for the changes. “[T]he reason the beginning of the show is different was an effort to give everyone in the show a credible point of view so that the scientists at Project NOAH … there’s a pandemic coming. There’s a huge emergency. They need this little girl to get the vaccine ready so that you can understand everybody’s point of view,” she said at the 2018 Television Critics Association Press Tour. “They’re doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.”

Justin Cronin
The Passage author Justin Cronin | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Fans of the book who are looking forward to seeing what happens after the apocalypse shouldn’t worry too much. Helden has said she envisions the events of the first book taking place over three seasons. Season 1 will deal with the events in the present day. Seasons 2 and 3 will cover events in the more distant future.

People who haven’t read the books shouldn’t expect romantic, Twilight-style vampires, the show’s star Gosselaar told The Wrap.

“Rereading a text that I got from Justin Cronin — because we text quite a bit — he says, ‘This is a vampire story, but these are real ones. These are humans transformed by a virus,’” Gosselaar said. “This is based on a vampire myth, but they’re not the Romeo, sparkly-type vampires we’ve seen in the past. They’re uber-predators that are stronger, faster, lethal — and they’re indiscriminate. So it’s nothing like the vampires we’re familiar with, yeah.”

The Passage premieres Monday, January 14 at 9/8c on Fox.

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