Title: The Twelve
Author: Justin Cronin
No. of Pages: 592
Origins: Mine. All mine.
Release Date: 16 October 2012
“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.”
My Thoughts: Taking place five years after the final scene in The Passage, The Twelve continues Justin Cronin’s saga in true genre-busting fashion. Amy and her friends have scattered across the Texas territory, finding their niche in the rugged community that continues to thrive. After five years of fighting the Virals, everyone is just a little more exhausted and less optimistic as to their long-term survival. This sense of dogged determination sets the tone for the rest of the novel as the good guys and the bad ones learn that they are just pawns in the grand design of The Twelve.
Like every sequel ever written, there is a manipulative feel to the story, as Mr. Cronin has to get his plot and his characters to where it and they need to be before the opening act of the final novel. In working to achieve this goal, he makes the world of The Twelve more identifiable and therefore more familiar. We get better glimpses of cities long destroyed, of entire infrastructures that were allowed to sink back to their natural state. We also see how creatively the survivors used this infrastructure to not just live but to thrive. Plus, thanks to the introduction of new characters, we get a better feel for those final days in the U.S., before the Virals had free reign of the country. In this way, The Twelve provides useful information for placing you inside this lost world.
I personally feel The Twelve is better than The Passage. I appreciate the characters and the world-building more than I did in the first novel. The action is more cerebral, as is the enemy. With the first novel, I felt like I was hanging on to a roller coaster without a seat restraint. The sequel makes me feel like I do when I sit down each month to close the books and publish financial reports – everything is familiar which allows me to concentrate on the details, and the details are where the heartbeat of the story reside. Plus, because it is a slower-paced story, Mr. Cronin’s writing ability truly shines. His post-apocalyptic world is fully imagined, and you can miss these gems if you are rushing from one catastrophe to another, as we did in the first novel.
The Twelve may not be as exciting as the first book in the series, but do not count out its importance. There is no doubt that Cronin places a plethora of key information within its self-contained story line that will prove vital for the finale. Everything about The Twelve is getting readers and characters alike ready for the finale. Thankfully, we do not have to wait much longer to find out what happens.