3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Beautifully crafted, poetically written, heart rending follow-up to The Passage.,
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This review is from: The Twelve (Passage Trilogy 2) (Paperback)
What is there to say about The Twelve by Justin Cronin? So much has been said already.
Having re-read The Passage before attacking the 600 odd pages of The Twelve (although the author does a biblical style summary of the events of The Passage at the start of the second book, it didn't capture the spirit of the characters enough for me to feel that I 'knew' them again), it was a bit unnerving to discover a whole new set of characters added to the already full list of protagonists. Although I was worried that I would be unable to follow the stories of this new group, Cronin writes them in such a way that you cannot fail to remember them. Still, the author juggles many balls in the air and you have to keep your eyes on his hands. Seeing the main characters again was like meeting old friends. Though years have passed and they've all changed since the events of The Passage, they still retain the essence of who they were, some more than others. The biggest change, and one that felt a bit rushed to me, was with Amy, more than halfway through the book. Amy's transition felt like the birth of another character, a new Amy, an Amy I was going to have to get to know all over again. Yet, it kind of had to happen. Although strong in spirit, the old Amy felt fragile, physically frail in the face of the challenges that she was destined to face. The new Amy is complete, physically, spiritually and emotionally as solid as a rock. Or almost there. I was pleased to see Carter & Wolgast again, and was thrilled with what Cronin chose to do with these two characters, as he did with Greer and The Circuit.
Before reading The Twelve, I saw many reviews criticising the author for the 'randomness' of the first 25-30% of the book. Last Stand in Denver and all that came afterwards in Iowa seemed like a waste of words and plot line to many fans of the first book. 'What the hell was Cronin thinking?' was the general gist of these reviews. When you read the notes by the author at the end of The Passage, of how this story came about with the help of his daughter on long, lazy runs in the sun, you begin to grasp the complexity of the plot that Cronin has weaved. There is no randomness to this story. Each scene, each birth, each death, has a meaning that will (hopefully) come to light with the last book in the trilogy next year, all the pieces of the final, massive, awesome jigsaw welding together into an epic ending, an ending that Cronin has already mapped out. I know many wish that the story would have continued straight-on from the final events of The Passage, in a race for the final battle, but that is not the style of this story or the storyteller. Also, many found Cronin's habit of interlacing past and present confusing and 'jumpy'. I have to say, I did have trouble trying to keep up with the timeline, but in the end, that didn't matter too much.
Not much to say here except that the poetic rhythm of Cronin's writing will either captivate or irritate. For me, it was the former. It felt like hearing a song on paper.
The scenes that stood out for me: The taking of Fort Powell, the man and the boy in each other's arms. Peter in the cage (I cried at that one). Alicia in the lion's den. Amy in chains, the evolution of the Girl from Nowhere, Wolgast the defender. And finally, the love of a father and a daughter ( cried again).
So, all in all, bravo Mr.Cronin for a story well told and a cast of characters that will stay with me for a long time. I hope you do them all justice with the final book in the trilogy next year.