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There are very few books that I've waited as long for, or in as much anticipation of. I was a big fan of "The Passage" when it came out, and made a point of reading it again just before the release date of "The Twelve". This turned out to be a much smarter thing to do than I had anticipated, and I encourage anyone that's considering doing so to do it. "The Twelve" takes the surface story we got in "The Passage", and adds depth, breadth, and context to it. One of the main ways Cronin does this is by fleshing out the background and history of the characters; some of which were not major players in the first book.
Readers of "The Passage" know that part-way through, there was a very... unexpected (and for many readers, myself included) unwelcomed turn of events that meant we were not going to continue with many of the characters and plot lines we'd come to care about. I know from other people's reviews that some readers even stopped reading at that point. I made the choice to continue, and was incredibly glad that I did - but it was still a hard pill to swallow at the time.
Now I realize that I should have given more credit to Justin Cronin's grand plan for his trilogy.
The first thing that really struck me as I began was that the quality is just as good as the first novel; the tone, the pacing, and the mood were all consistent and it was great to have Scott Brick back as the narrator. Once the story begins, we are promptly taken BACK to Year Zero. We see what happened to other characters we knew, and get a view of how the country handled the beginning of the crisis. More importantly, we slowly start to understand how these people end up affecting the world of 97 AV. I really enjoyed being able to fill in these holes, and the connections that are artfully woven between the characters in both times.
Time moves fluidly in this novel; transporting us not just to Year Zero and 97 AV, but also too a "mid-way point" of 79 AV, which allows for more background and history of the world and people in 97 AV.
This novel crystallizes what a huge, clear vision the author has for this trilogy. While I hate that it's over, and waiting until 2014 for the final chapter, I thought this book was fantastic and took the level of story-making to the next level, compared to the first book.
Finally, I just want to note that although we visit a few different times to allow for more plot development, I never felt I was being kept from the characters I wanted to spend time with. The book was done so incredibly well, it leaves me at a loss - so all I'll say is 5 stars, and enjoy the adventure.
(The kindle version of this book provides a list of all characters, organized by what year and place they were in, at the very end of the novel. After not having much luck online finding a list to help clarify a few things for myself, I got the Kindle version and just opened up the cloud reader option to open the book. If you choose "Table of Contents" from the books menu, right near the end you'll find an option in bold caps: "Dramatis Personae". If you click on that, it pulls up the characters. For me, this ended up being worthwhile. I have a feeling there are even more character connections than I picked up on yet; and I'm sure more are coming with book 3.)
89 of 98 people found this review helpful
The Twelve is Book 2 of the the Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin which I read about a year ago. While this book is a continuation of the story, it reads somewhat like a different story. The action is faster and moves from scene to scene and character to character much more swiftly and with much less intimacy than the first installment of the trilogy. The less than intimate treatment of characters makes for a cast of characters we care less about. We seem to spend less time with them and more with the action and that action sometimes seems a bit disjointed and less cohesive than in Book 1.
This is one of the darkest and horror-filled series I’ve ever read. Bram Stoker or H.P. Lovecraft have nothing on this guy. Normally, while I often gravitate to dystopian novels, Cronin’s books, I believe, are in a class by themselves. Horror in many books seems to go on and on in detail and I either have to turn away or stop reading completely. In those it is gratuitous, horror for horror sake and how really nauseated can I make the reader feel. I don’t think Cronin is that type of author. Truly, this book is intense but the horrific scenes are within the context of the whole dystopia and not focused on to the extent of disgust and revulsion. It is the entire landscape, the entire dark and formidable continent of North America that jumps off the pages.
The writing is excellent the narration impeccable if you like Scott Brick and I do. There are passages where Scott Brick seems to talk like Scott Brick and they’re not great but once the characters come in, he disappears and it is only the actors who remain; Scott Brick completely disappears. I felt that way about the first in the trilogy and this one is no different.
The Random House Audio or Audible production (whoever can take credit for it) has its shortcomings. It is another one of those books where scenes sometimes change within a chapter and the way the narrator continues from one scene to the next without any kind of interlude, it can leave the listener confused. Like, where are we? How did we get Here? And, when the text goes between the present and future, it can get downright disconcerting. But that aside, I think the book was done well. I don’t think many who enjoyed the first of the trilogy will be disappointed by its sequel. I would not recommend reading the two out of order.
37 of 42 people found this review helpful