Whoa! Seems no one can win with the Inferno review (hee,hee, vicious)
Cronin's continuation of The Passage finally pulls us readers left gripping the edge of the cliff, up over the rim and into -- Year Zero: Twelve death row inmates, infected with a man-made virus [known as project Noah] which transformed them into malevolent vampire-like creatures with psychic powers, and an unquenchable thirst for blood, escape and sweep across the land, creating a new apocalyptic world of devastation and terror. Then, with a jump ahead 97 years (5 yrs. after the blow-out ending of The Passage) to finish what was started with Lacey's sacrifice in the first book -- hunting down and exterminating the Twelve (minus bombed-out Babcock - ?!). Yes, Cronin still jumps around in time and requires some rigorous tracking by the reader, but The Twelve stays largely in 97 a.v. and focuses on the hunt for the Twelve, and the new viral run settlement, The (horrific) Homeland -- all in all providing 26 hrs. of transportive, and eerily believable, entertainment.
Cronin's strength in The Passage was creating absolute terror in the struggle to survive, and the nail-biting moments of life or *death/life*; The Twelve continues with the well-thought out story, focusing more on the development and complexities of the characters as they deal with the forces that shape their personalities -- the trauma, and the unrelenting despair of fighting to keep their world from completely ending, and thus an unimaginably darker world from truly beginning. Even fellow humans can't be trusted, and Cronin leads us to look inside ourselves--what are we capable of doing to survive, what is our personal belief system, our level of tolerance before cracking? Cronin capably uses his prolific prose to meld this thriller with psychological drama.
Some major problems with The Twelve, once you've learned the art of break-neck time traveling within this millennium: keeping track of the dozens of characters and their connecting arc with all the plots going on. An index of characters, as well as a data-base, would be a small book itself -- and helpful. Can you remember that Lila, the new *Queen,* is the ex-wife of Wolgast? How about defining: the Twelve, Zero, Dracs, virals, spinners, jumps, smokes, dopeys, red-eyes...*I am Fanning-Morrison-Chavez-Baffles-Turrell-Winston-Sosa-Echolos-Lambright-Martinex-Reinhardt-Carter* -- it can get confusing. There are also several instances where things are just a little tooo convenient, or the facts don't substantiate the events (curtains that have held up perfectly over 100 yrs.?). And at 26 hours, 550 pages...there were times my interest either flagged or was just overwhelmed. Usually these issues would knock off a star for me, but in the shadow of such an epic they boil down to minor issues.
Cronin's world is similar to King's world of The Stand (very similar), del Toro & Hogan's The Strain (the suffocating creepy atmosphere), and McCammon's Swan Song (especially with the ever-budding religious allegory..the Twelve, the biblical verse as a prologue, the bright heaven-like vision, Guilder's pope-ish appearance)...and the length of each one of these tomes...but still is original and enjoyable--in a terrifying way. It will be a long wait for the concluding The City of Mirrors release in 2014, and it will be interesting to see what Ridley Scott does with the movie rights, but with Cronin's vivid literary creation, it might seem like a re-run. It's hard to do this genre right -- but Cronin nailed it. I struggled with the few issues I stated above, but overall was so engaged that I have to highly recommend.
I'm the first to admit..my attention span can be short. But I've been listening to books on tape/cd for 25 years and I don't recall rewinding so much. I kept thinking I missed something. The story starts/stops in odd places. It's more like several short stories than tied (loosely in some cases) at the end. There a MANY characters and new ones are being introduced even 3/4 through the book. I'm not sure I'll bother with the 3rd..my interest has waned. Maybe if I went back and 're-read' the The Passage it would have helped.
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First off, I think The Passage was brilliant. This second installment of the trilogy disappointed me though. The amount of important characters swells, and the overall outcome is a story line diluted by some periphery characters that distract the reader from the core characters of the story, at least for the first half. The last half of the book really picks up and while it was not what I was expecting, it certainly kept my attention. If you read the first, you have to read this book. Trudge through the slow start and you will be rewarded at the end. You will also be waiting to find out what happens to the crew, or what is left of it, in the next book.
I just finished The Twelve. While I plan to listen to it again to catch what I missed, here are my initial impressions (and no spoilers here that aren’t mentioned in literary reviews). First, the narration by Scott Brick is excellent as always. The beginning part of the story switches back and forth between 97 A.V (five years after the conclusion of The Passage) and the Year 0. In the Year 0 portion, Cronin expands on the events surrounding the viral plague through the eyes of those living through it. A few of the characters make a brief appearance or are mentioned in the first book. Of note are Kittridge (known only as Last Stand in Denver in the first book) and Lila (the ex-wife of agent Wolgast). It is interesting to see the apocalypse through the new eyes of people just trying to stay alive as the world is dying around them, and also how these characters impact future events.
The story of our main band from The Passage continues five years after the death of Babcock with the survivors trying to cope and adjust to life in Kerrville. Each is struggling in one way or another. Peter has joined the Expeditionary, but feels he isn’t fulfilling his mission. Alicia is as tough as ever, but the strain of being half human, half viral is a constant weight. Amy is growing as a woman and leader, but is haunted by the twelve and her memories of Walgast. Greer is serving time in the stockade for deserting his post to follow Amy and Peter, and he has become a man of deep faith.
The primary enemy in this novel is another human settlement located in Iowa. Some of the people we meet here are old characters and some are new. I do agree with some of the early reviews that draw a comparison between this settlement and the Vegas colony in The Stand. The leader of the community even bears some similarities to Randall Flagg. It is the confrontation and the threat of this new foe that is the source of the conflict.
I found this a great read, and an excellent follow up to The Passage. We learn the answers to many of the questions left hanging at the end of the first book, including the fate of the garrison at Roswell and what became of the citizens of First Colony. This book takes a much deeper turn into the mystical than the first book. Some of the passages that delved into the world of dreams and other dimensions were confusing at times. I also was never fully engaged by the characters in the colony in Iowa, which reminded me of a Nazi concentration camp, or its leader. Guilder, the leader, is an evil character, but I never found him as compelling as, say, Randall Flagg, to which he seems an homage.
I rate this highly as a second installment, but was not as blown away with The Twelve as I was with The Passage. It was entertaining and was good to revisit characters fans of The Passage have come to care about. It was also good to see the story move forward to what any fan knows will be the ultimate conflict of good vs evil against Subject Zero. Some people did not find the cliffhanger ending of the first book. I loved it, and found it to be great storytelling. There is no abrupt ending as before, but that’s not to say there aren’t unanswered questions. The ending does set up the finale and opens a couple of burning questions that will ensure fans run to buy the next installment. I will.
Author, rabid Audible listener.
Get through the first few chapters of The Twelve and you will start back on the journey where The Passage left off. It was those first few chapters that really made me question whether I wanted to continue reading. Either Justin Cronin just meant to write the books this way or his head is getting too big.
The first part of The Twelve is downright difficult to read with scripture-like text getting all high and mighty about God's creation of Zero and how Amy will be the light, etc, etc. It is all very over the top.
That said, this is a very good and very dark outing. There is little to be happy about but you do get to learn a whole lot about the back story of the world being overrun by the virals. All the characters are treated incredibly well so you never feel like there is some 'side character'.. they are all very well developed.
If you read The Passage and want to get on with it, I suggest you do. If you are wondering whether this story is good for you, realize it can get very preachy.
I was disappointed with the book. You know all the characters from the first novel, but in this novel it seemed like they were cardboard cutouts. The plot and the world the characters moved through seemed to be painted on, lacking the depth of the first novel.
I eagerly awaited the release of this second book in the series, since "The Passage", the first in the series, ended so abruptly after keeping me spellbound for hours of listening. I enjoyed the description of the events that occurred following the outbreak in this sequel, but I found it confusing to follow as he jumped forward and backward in the timeline. With so many characters with their own subplots, it would have been an easier read if it had not been so disjointed. Scott Brick is an excellent (but slow) narrator, and he does have a tendency to drag it out. I preferred it at double speed. Overall, if you are fan of this series, you must read this book, although it did not live up to my expectations.
POSSIBLE SPOILER: I really wanted the book to explore more of the scientific issue of the biological experiment, but it was all about the relationships that were developed in the first book. Don't get me wrong, they are important and are interesting, but I would have preferred a better mix. The book really felt segmented and somewhat hard to follow to me due to the back and forth between times and old then new characters. I re-read the first book just days before this one came out and it was still that way somewhat. I enjoyed following the journey of the first book on google earth, but this one doesn't allow much of that because the characters just appear at the destination in the next chapter. However, there were some turns in the plot I didn't expect and I will be getting the final book of the Trilogy. Narration was as good as the first one. Its slow enough that its easy to listen on double speed. Later.
It's not on the same level as the first book which I really liked. Story too complex. Confusing. Hard to follow. Characters weak (other than in "The Passage"). The book has its moments but all in all too broad. With a 4 star rating this book is overrated. I would give it 2,5 stars - no more. I had high expectations - maybe that's why I am disappointed...
Most likely I will read part 3, but JC has to improve!
I liked the narrator. Same "style" as in the first book. Without him the ratings would have been worse in my opinion. Good performance.
Has its moments which remind of the first book. All in all too weak.
If you didn't like the first book or thought it was "so, so" - hands off this one. You need to be a fan to get through this one.
The whole thing except for Scott Brick's narration.
What a waste of time and money.
Scott is always great!
Boring and too wildly futuristic - way too much fantasy.
Sorry I spent the $$ - wish I could get a refund as I could not even finish the first section.