Book Review: The Twelve (The Passage #2) by Justin Cronin

The Twelve by Justin Cronin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Summary:  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.

A heart-stopping thriller rendered with masterful literary skill, The Twelve is a grand and gripping tale of sacrifice and survival.

One of my favorite things about The Passage was the scientific experiment bend that was all things government program gone pear shaped and gave us our vampires. The Twelve takes a much more mystical/spiritual/religious bend and I'll be honest, I was a little let down, at first. This meant a lot of talking between characters and not a lot of action and that killed the horror bit of this story but it did lend itself to characters' individual journies. Now that I've finished it, I appreciate having both parts pulling on the story... but I'm still disappointed.

I have this in ebook form but decided to buy the audiobook & partially listen to it. All I can say is that read or listened to, Cronin has a way of keeping me on the edge of my seat, waiting & on the world he's created. I could've sworn the hunt would be on in earnest for the remaining virals from The Passage but alas, I was wrong. A lot of characters in various times appear but there's hardly any sighting, save two of the twelve (now eleven) let alone a massive hunt underway. There's a fix for that as it happens in the back third of the book and it's laid so bare in simplicity, I had a hard time believing it. I literally stopped reading & said "That's it? That's just really it?" and re-read to make sure. Still, I have to admit that I enjoyed reading hoe events unfurled in the stadium. It was possibly the most exciting part of the book (followed closely by Kitteridge making his escape of Denver and how everything went down at the refugee camp (can anyone tell me what the exactly happened to Danny after that plunge into a pile of virals?! I know April survived but what. about. Danny?!).

It was nice to see Alicia was still doing the warrior against the virals thing because Amy was angsting and hanging out with the nuns & orphans making soup, along with some weird romance thing with Peter. I'm still not sure where that came from. She basically dropped out of the action and I kind of feel that her character was quite diminished. I can't even begin to discuss the heinous things Alicia had to endure but I'm hoping there's some transformative reason in the last book because it was harrowing.

While I thought some of this was overlong and really low on action, it is a middle book in a trilogy and it seems those often suffer. I think about a third of this in the middle could have been edited out to streamline it to a nice, taut story leading into the finale. I definitely think the very last 40 pages or so were very well done. Even while on another plane, it was nice to see some characters finding peace or getting close to it.

Recommended for fans of the first book but if you skip it, you'll live. And if you really are getting bogged down in the middle, jump to the final third and just satisfy yourself.

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