Read my review of The Passage

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

In the present day, as the man-made apocalypse unfolds, three strangers navigate the chaos. Lila, a doctor and an expectant mother, is so shattered by the spread of violence and infection that she continues to plan for her child’s arrival even as society dissolves around her. Kittridge, known to the world as “Last Stand in Denver,” has been forced to flee his stronghold and is now on the road, dodging the infected, armed but alone and well aware that a tank of gas will get him only so far. April is a teenager fighting to guide her little brother safely through a landscape of death and ruin. These three will learn that they have not been fully abandoned—and that in connection lies hope, even on the darkest of nights.
One hundred years in the future, Amy and the others fight on for humankind’s salvation . . . unaware that the rules have changed. The enemy has evolved, and a dark new order has arisen with a vision of the future infinitely more horrifying than man’s extinction. If the Twelve are to fall, one of those united to vanquish them will have to pay the ultimate price.

I loved The Passage so much I was kind of afraid to read this one. What if it somehow tainted that perfect, perfect bit of storytelling? Even though I was excited to read this one, I let it linger on my shelf for a little bit, afraid it would fall short of my expectations.

It didn’t.

I’ll admit, though, the narrative structure is kind of odd in this one. You start in the “present” (year 97) then jump back to year zero, then jump further ahead into narrative time while remaining in the past (year 77) and then back to the present. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised though. In The Passage, Cronin spends roughly 1/3 of the book in year zero and then the rest in year 92. It all makes sense in the end, but the structure is just plain weird.

Regardless, though, I was just an enraptured with this novel as with the others. It still made me nervous, but at this point, I’m pretty used to the Virals, or as used to them as you could get. Fair warning though, this novel manages to somehow be even more violent and even more bloody than the others.

My favorite favorite part of this book was how he recapped what happened in the first book, in the form of biblical verses that are reminiscent to the opening verses of the Book of Revelations. Clever, Cronin, clever. If I hadn’t already had an inkling you could read this story as a biblical parable, that kind of cemented that.

As always, I find it difficult to talk about this novel without giving away much from the others, but as always, Amy was my favorite character, followed by Peter. I wish I could have gotten more of them, especially Amy. I could read about Amy forever.

Another difficult thing about this book, since I’d been waiting two years for this, I forgot what love triangles/relationships were brewing and thus found myself sort of lost in this one, which picks up four or five years after the end of The Passage. So maybe considering re-reading the first book, before you dive into this one. I’m sure it will help.

This series is supposed to be a trilogy. I see that it’s going that way. But I don’t want it to end. I want it go on and on and on forever.

2 Comments on “The Twelve

  1. I really liked The Passage too but felt it to be two separate books, the second half so jarring from the first. To me, Amy’s story in the first part was so well written, his language so moving…I consider some of the best writing I’ve ever had the privilege to read. But the second half was hard for me to get into–I was still mourning the end of the first part. However, by the end of the book I was rooting for the characters and pretty unhappy when I read the brief statement about the survival of the final group of people (trying not to reveal too much here). As a result I anxiously awaited The Twelve. And I too should have re-read The Passage so as to refresh myself on those characters. My recollection of “Last Stand” Kittridge in the first book was that he was just mentioned by other characters in the book as that guy holding out in Denver and broadcasting video of the Virals. Am I wrong on that?

    Ultimately I did enjoy The Twelve but I was disappointed in the route Cronin chose for Amy and am not sure how that can get resolved (again trying not to reveal much). I thought his choice to address totalitarianism very interesting but accurate–this kind of thing often happens when a society experiences something cataclysmic. In a way, that fascist “city” was as horrifying as the violence, at least for me–institutionalized violence turns us against one another instead of external violence which makes us rely on one another…. My only real criticism is that there seemed to be a few loose ends. I’m suspending judgement until the third book is released though, to see if he does resolve those story lines.

    • Yes I agree about Amy. She’s my favorite and I see it necessary in a sense to do what he did with her. But I’m still really pushing for a happy happy fairytale ending on that side. Yea I don’t know about Kittridge…I honestly felt like I was refreshing my memory as I went along…I didn’t remember many of the characters or what they’d done in the other book.

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