The Twelve – Justin Cronin

The second book in Cronin’s epic The Passage trilogy. Having heard from the outset before even starting the first book that the second wasn’t as great I may have adjusted my expectations and found myself loving The Twelve just as much. As much as The Twelve follows on from The Passage, we see the story once again take us back to the time of the outbreak following several characters that we met or who were referenced in the first book as their journey is another strand in the complex web that is the plot.  This is an interesting storyline introducing an intriguing relationship between some great characters, polar opposites, but fascinating characters. Their story leads us back to the current situation of Amy, Peter and their companions, now scattered. Here we pick up their quest to destroy the Twelve, that is Babcock-Morrisn-Chavez-Baffes-Turrell-Winston-Sosa-Echols-Lambright-Martinez-Reinhardt-Carter.


The first thing that struck me about this novel was the Epilogue. Anyone who has read The Passage (no worries if you haven’t, I won’t be revealing any spoilers) will remember just how content heavy the book is, clocking in at over a thousand pages. Cronin’s way of refreshing our mind in The Twelve is in an epilogue with a twist. Given the way the books are written and the story flows Cronin writes the epilogue as a biblical testament of sorts and it just works amazingly. I love his style and I love that each part of the novel is prefaced with relevant prose and then often a different style of text, a wanted poster, an interview transcript, a map and so on. While for some people it may not be their style, I personally found it centred me within the story and added a different, more personal dimension.


The characters are once again a highlight. In this book we are introduced to a fascinating character, who at the time of contamination, deals with the shock by entering into a delusion that life is continuing as normal despite so much evidence to the contrary. This manner of thinking is perpetuated over time again and again until you are left with this psychologically delusional and intricate character. Definitely a unique one that I enjoyed learning about over the course of the novel. The second character we see more of in this novel is good old Grey. A character created to make the reader uncomfortable. We learn in the first book that he becomes involved in the project as a cleaner because he is a convicted child sex offender and is treated with hormones to remove the urges. He is a character you are not meant to like, he has committed these terrible acts in his past, yet he is written in a way that is complex and multidimensional. Suddenly a character that should be black and white is actually so many shades of grey (get it, Grey??) that you can’t help but feel a sense of empathy towards him and an interest into understanding his motivations, both past and present. I don’t even have time to go into the other amazing characters that we are reunited with: Amy, Peter, Lish, just to name a few. All amazing, all I was happy to see more of.


The story slowly weaves more and more tightly together in this part, with some questions answered and more created. If you aren’t one for enjoying novels that fit together almost to perfectly, too conveniently, in the end then this may not be the series for you. Some of the themes that seem to underly this series include religion, destiny and fate. There are so many storylines that weave together and so much that is of course connected that way frustrate some. I find it builds the atmosphere that this is an epic saga that could almost be describes as a vampire-ridden Lord of The Rings epic. Two very different authors and styles, but these books have the feel of something great and I just cannot wait to get my hands on the last piece of the puzzle. Unfortunately due to my OCD and apparent love for this series I cannot go out and buy my own copy as yet of book three, as it is still so new the current copies are not the same size as my original two books. Therefore, it is waiting for the library copy for me. Until then I give The Twelve four babies, a strangely relevant part of this book.


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