'The Twelve' is the sequel to 'The Passage' by Justin Cronin. I would suggest you read the books in proper sequence. Justin Cronin provides an epic style introduction at the front of the novel but 'The Passage' is hugely complicated and without having read it I think you might struggle to make much sense of 'The Twelve'.
'The Passage' takes us on a journey through a dystopian earth where mankind is almost extinct due to mutants who need humans as a source of food. The mutants were created as the result of secret experimentation by the military who were blissfully ignorant of the force they were creating.
The focus moves to a particular group of survivors who leave the safety of their compound in the hope of finding a new Utopia. After a prolonged battle and a road trip of many miles just a few of them survive. 'The Twelve' follows their story through several time frames from the past to the present and into a future where a cure for the original virus might be found.
This is a novel that will demand huge amounts of your time and concentration. There have been many changes but the essence of the original characters remains even though they are outwardly changed by time and experience. Amy is the biggest change. Gone is the fragile, spiritual child and possible 'saviour' of the human race!. Amy is strong. Strong enough to carry the demands placed upon her by fate.
I'm not the greatest fan of post-apocalyptic/dystopian fiction but 'The Passage' was undoubtedly one of the best novels I'd read and I have never forgotten it. 'The Twelve' was less convincing but still made for a powerful, addictive read. I'm looking forward to Book 3.
on 31 March 2015
I read these in the wrong order not realising they were part of a trilogy. The copy of The Twelve I picked up in my public library gave no indication this was the second part of a story that had started with The Passage, simply that they were by the same order. I was a bout a third of the way through The Twelve before I discovered the wider narrative scope. This undoubtedly changed my reading of that novel and once I had completed it I hastily returned to The Passage to fill in the earlier parts of the story. Perhaps this is intentional to gain readership because The Twelve reads just as well as a standalone novel, The Passage a little less so, and reading out of order doesn't harm the story though it does influence it.
I preferred The Twelve as a tighter, more engaging story with less exposition than is required in The Passage. The need to add more background gives The Passage moments of inertia. The Twelve works as a standalone novel because it compresses the events of The Passage into a preamble imagined as a quasi-religious text written and found of the events. That provides enough context to launch into the events of The Twelve. Admittedly without having read The Passage there were places in The Twelve that were more mysterious or understood differently but this didn't detract in fact gave me more pleasure filling in the gaps with my own imagination.
I often enjoy the central sections of a trilogy most. They are unencumbered with the pull of beginnings and endings, requiring less explanatory text then the first and less concerned with the finality of the third. Themes can open, darken and be explored. The Twelve does this through a time shifted narrative that retreads some of the time covered in the Passage but from different perspectives.
We go back to Year Zero again to be told the stories of survivors and government agents. At the end of The Passage the travellers from the First Colony in California encounter and expeditionary force from a Texan colony. In the Twelve we learn more about how this community was founded and how they have survived and organised themselves: if the Colony was a guild based feudalism this is more 19th century republicanism. We also find out the stories of another set of survivors, including government agents, and their journey of survival and city building. This it is a more totalitarian affair that suggests at the social engineering of Brave New World or The Handmaid's Tale as well as hinting at the labour/death camps, ghettos and eugenics of the mid-20th century. Each community encountered in the novels explores a different social construct and response to threat. Here most obviously there is the idea that humanity is not united against a common threat from the virals, but also still at war with itself and what a 'good world' looks like.
As well as a different take on survival we have a different take on The Twelve, the original test subjects who lead the virals as part of a hive mind. The Passage was dominanted by the psychology of Test Subject 1, Giles Babcock. Here, the other members of The Twelve feature more prominently. Most of all we enter the mind of Anthony Carter, test subject number 12 and always a little different from the other criminals, partly because it is not clear that he is guilty of the crime he was convicted for. His story was partly told in The Passage and is re-visited in detail here in many re-tellings. We know the abuse and murder at the heart of Babcock and now we experience the pain and loss that is Carter's psychological prison.
At the end of The Passage the survivor's of First Colony have split into two groups. Finally the novel returns to their story, although for me this was the first time I had encountered them, and first hints at and then reveals what has happened to them in the intervening 5 years. Following on from The Passage this may seem a long wait to be reunited with these characters but it makes sense to me that their view of the world was incomplete. It made it more interesting for me to tell an alternative history of events after the virus before connecting them together, rather than telling a story from the same point of view. As those from the Colony who have survived reunite something is changing again that brings more danger, another expedition, another battle not just between humans and virals this time but also between competing visions of survival.
The third part of the trilogy, The City of Mirrors, is due in October 2015. It's not going to be an easy task for Justin Cronin to please all of his fans and tell a memorable and complete story that also weaves together satisfactorily narrative arcs than span the entire trilogy.
on 28 May 2013
Oh dear. After being absolutely blown away by The Passage, I immediately launched into The Twelve, only to become more and more disillusioned as time went on. By the end I was speed reading, skipping whole sections just to get it over with.
Where The Passage was bleak, and unremitting with peril round every corner and well-rounded characters dropping like flies in a gut-wrenching manner, The Twelve is full of convenient escapes, a total lack of threat, characters miraculously surviving impossible situations, returning from the dead etc etc. It turns into a pointless and tedious action adventure, with no suspense as all the main characters by now seem to be completely impervious to any real threat. Where the outside world was a dark and dangerous place before, where the slightest contact meant instant death in all likelihood, now it is essentially a safari. At the end, it really was just a bunch of stuff that happened, with no emotional weight whatsoever.
Its really, truly best just to read The Passage and leave the story there.
on 4 January 2013
I very much enjoyed The Passage, which slowly built up to the release of a deadly virus then skipped forward to explore the resulting post-apocalyptic world. This sequel follows a similar pattern, with some chapters set during the outbreak and others set after the climactic events of The Passage, but I found both threads less compelling than their predecessors. For example, I really liked the detailed picture of the First Colony that was drawn in The Passage; The Twelve describes two different approaches to post-viral human societies, but to my mind neither was particularly convincing. Some interesting early character development was wasted later in the book. There was an increase in mysticism and sentimentality, both centred around Amy, and this wasn't really to my taste. Overall, I did enjoy seeing what happened next, and I will certainly read the third volume in the trilogy, but this is a disappointment after The Passage.
on 11 January 2015
I've had The Twelve on my Kindle for about 3 years without reading it. It's the follow up to dystopia The Passage, a trilogy which is due to conclude this year with City Of Mirrors. I've had several abortive attempts at reading The Twelve, in part because I wasn't grabbed by the opening, and because I was struggling to remember where The Passage left off.
I don't quite know how I missed the section at the start of the book, written in biblical style, summarising events up to this point, but I did. Finding it this time made the book easier to get going with, using Wikipedia really helped too. I guess that's what happens when you leave a three year gap between installments.
Following the end of The Passage our main group of heroes have gone their separate ways, some are missing presumed dead, some are actually dead, and Alicia, for one, has become a creature unto herself neither human nor viral.
After what they learned pursuing Babcock in The Passage, Amy, Peter and co now know that to solve the viral crisis, they must kill The Twelve originators of the plague thereby killing all the virals they individually sired.
Whilst The Passage was an unnerving and bleak novel with a lot of prologue involved, The Twelve is more dramatic set piece after dramatic set piece, action sequences with a clear view to the film adaptation which has been optioned by Ridley Scott. The cage fighting sequence, the convoy ambush, the stadium, the school bus etc. As such it loses much of its reflection upon the changes in the world.
The flashback to just after the virus broke as we meet Bernard Kittridge 'The Last Stand In Denver' is all really great stuff which ends somewhat prematurely. Other things entirely miss the mark. Lila is a terrible character and the hunt for the Twelve becomes ridiculously over simplified were previously it had much potential for a variety of target take down scenarios.
Given that the entire nation has become literally overrun with these things, at one point they are said to number in their millions; it seems odd then, both that human colonies seem to survive in such large numbers or indeed that 100 years later any are left at all.
There were two things I really actually detested about The Twelve. A lengthy segment ensues in which one of the main characters is trapped in The Homeland - an established colony run by a panto villain named Guilder. Instead of inventing conditions in this oppressive colony Cronin merely borrows from the Holocaust. Inmates have barracks and are starving, they have numbers burned into their arms, they have their heads shaved. Instead of feeling like a subtle allegory, the comparison is like a sledgehammer. To do this felt grotesque to the point of offensive to me.
It also has multiple allusions to rape and rape sequences, which I think many readers would find disturbing.
However, I did manage to read this book, in the end, in two large gulps, it does sort of gallop along with haste in a way that makes it occupy your attention, and ultimately these books are quite long over 500 pages each, so having devoted over 1,000 pages of my attention to this saga, it just wouldn't make sense not to read its conclusion.
I have recently said though, that I wish the publishing world would take note of the fact that pandemic dystopias have somewhat reached saturation point now, and act accordingly. I have certainly reached a 'not another one' malais when seeking out new reading materials, and finishing this trilogy will certainly mark my taking a well earned break from them.
on 20 January 2014
If I had realised that The Passage was about virals/vampires, I probably wouldn't have bought it because it's not my sort of thing. However, I engaged with it from the first page and raced through it. I nearly didn't buy The Twelve because of the very mixed and, of the majority I saw, "disappointed" reviews. However, I decided that I wanted to know what happened and I was not disappointed. As several reviewers have pointed out, it does have a lot of characters. In the Kindle edition, there is a list at the back. It would have been more helpful if it had been at the front (I for one don't look through the Contents before reading a book!) And the detail given was very sparing. Many of the characters had been mentioned in The Passage, so I don't really think that there were too many new ones that didn't have a part to play.
The one thing that I am glad of is that I read The Twelve immediately after The Passage, so a lot was fresh in my mind. There is an opening chapter - a bit like something out of the Bible - that summarises the events of The Passage but, I think, if it had been read a considerable time ago, this would have helped but not as much as keeping reading. I am, therefore, extremely disappointed to learn that The City of Mirrors doesn't come out until the end of October this year. I know that I want to read it. I just hope that I am not disappointed because I can't remember the previous books!
Both books, in my view, are real page-turners. Flipping backwards and forwards between time and characters keeps the pace going because you are desperate to know what happened.
As well as a slightly more detailed list of characters (X ray helps for Kindle readers), I think that it would be helpful to have a Timeline - particularly as you are flitting backwards and forwards quite a bit - and, more importantly, a map. I got thoroughly confused about where all the places were in relation to each other and, in the end, just had to go with the flow!
I think that one or more reviewers have said that Cronin's writing is cinematic. I don't know that I have ever read anything that so conjures up pictures in your mind. Very clever to be able to create visual images in people's minds of something that they will (hopefully!) never see. I almost felt like I was there!
on 17 June 2013
I enjoyed the first of Cronin's set to be trilogy The Passage, not so much that i was on tenter hooks for the sequel The Twelve but it was worth a read. But as i perused new paperback releases i came across a book with a similar look to the cover and realised it was the sequel to The Passage. As any of the fans of the first will know Cronin does a stunning job of grabbing his reader in and thrusting them into this dystopian world he has concocted. He also puts together a great cast of characters that you quickly build an affiliation with, especially in my case Danny the simple bus driver. The narrative never lulls at any point and every detail you get the feeling is intricate to the overall understanding of the story. However the novel is split into books i.e book 1, book 2 and so on, and this is where the problem lies for myself anyway. The narrative spills all over the place, new characters in a totally different time are brought in, main protagonists disappear all together and it just feels like one big tedious mess, that i will admit i didn't finish. I attempted to persevere with it but at over 700 pages long the book is just too much to try and take on when you cant bring yourself to get into it. The first 250 pages though are fantastic and i went through them in a breeze, but was sadly let down by the ending of the particular book which i think is book 3 off the top of my head, and then words fail me for the following dribble that comes after that. I must say though, Cronin is clearly a talented writer, he has just lost his way a little with this one.
on 26 May 2013
I read the Passage when it came out a few years back and thought (with the exception of the utterly fantastic first 100 pages) that it was well written but just all right - nothing to write home about.
The Twelve is well written too, but it just isn't interesting. It certainly isn't original. Shelves in bookshops everywhere are groaning under the weight of this type of dystopian story - from the awful to the sublime. The Twelve unfortunately falls into the ho-hum category. It certainly doesn't bring anything new to the genre.
It's continually weighed down by too many unnecessary passages, characters and descriptions. Hidden inside is a tauter, pacier story trying to get out. But it can't. One of the earlier sections - six and a half pages to be exact - describes a mentally confused womans inner voice as she struggles to decide on a colour scheme for a room - and various other irrelevent items. Thats about 3000 words. Possible spoiler here: she goes shopping for the paint without having decided on a colour.
Life is too short (and money too tight: this wasn't a cheap paperback) to have to drag oneself through this kind of thing. Entertain me, Mr. Cronin! Your opening chapters in The Passage prove you can do it! I read about a third way through The Twelve before frustration made me shelve it. And write this review.
The Twelve is the middle book of Justin Cronin's post apocalyptic trilogy that details the engineered vampires and America after they take over. Its quite a bit shorter than its predecessor, which in many ways is a relief.
The story follows on after the previous book but not in a linear way. The book flips between events leading up to the fall of America, current events and some events in between. New characters are introduced and new story arcs. The story promises that it will follow the hunting of the twelve, but this is not the case for the majority of the novel. I read the Kindle version of this book and there is a section at the back which gives a list of characters to try and keep track of them. In the traditional format this will work well as you can keep flipping between, not so easy in the Kindle version. Therefore, I found it hard to track the growing cast at times and didn't feel as involved as I did in the first book. However, I read through this in quick time and enjoyed it. Its a cracking read and when the action happens it really does at a pace. Amy is as great a character as ever as well.
This book can't be read alone. Its probably not as good as the first in the trilogy either. But it still is a great read. I am looking forward to the conclusion of the series very much.
on 8 December 2012
I have been waiting to read this book for over a year and constantly scoured the internet for news of its release. As soon as I could I downloaded it to my beloved Kindle and prepared to block out the world for a few days and take myself back to Cronin's apocalyptic world which I had so loved in the first book of this trilogy, The Passage. The first half didn't disappoint and without giving the plot away the whole section about Kittridge 'last stand in Denver' was probably better than anything I have read in the 2 books so far. When Danny was driving that bus just after the virus had been let loose I cheered and cried both at the same time. However, the second half of the book goes off at a complete tangent and now the war is against other human survivors and factions. I found the comparisons with the Nazi death camps and The Homeland quite startling, unnecessary and distasteful. Cronin has lost his way with this book and as has been mentioned in other reviews the endless edition of new characters makes it ever more confusing. In the latter half my heart would sink as a new character was added and I had to work out who they were related to or how they fitted in. To sum up I could have read about Kittridge and co. forever but the rest of the book is just average and the plotline doesn't really follow on from the first book. It is as though Cronin has written another story and just added it in for good measure because he couldn't think of anything else which I find bizarre to say the least. I am giving 3 stars mainly because of the sheer accomplishment of this work and I will go on to read the final part of this trilogy on its release but please Mr Cronin get back to the original theme of The Passage which was oh so much better.