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.
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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.
The second book of the Passage trilogy is…not what I was expecting. The first book ends with the promise that the heroes are “going to war” against the Twelve, with the suggestion that they know where to find each of them and will systematically take them on, one by one. So I was expecting the next novel, with a title like “The Twelve,” to be about just that: Peter and Amy’s journeys across America, taking out as many of the Twelve as possible. I wasn’t disappointed by the book’s actual plot; far from it. But I was confused as to its structure and some of the narrative choices Cronin made in its construction.
For one thing, the book begins in the year of the virals’ escape and civilization’s collapse, from the point of view of mostly new characters, which is 100 years before the events of the second half of The Passage. Most of this part is relevant to the eventual outcome of the story, but a good deal of it isn’t. It’s odd, because I enjoyed this part of the book for what it was, but it felt like procrastination. It would have been better served to be presented in novella form, I think, released as separate, but not required, companion volumes, as many books with rich, wide settings do these days.
Then, the story jumps forward in time to an event that took place 20 years before the “present” (e.g. Peter’s time) whose relevance to the plot takes a long, long time to become clear. And because we spend so little time with these characters, it makes the down-the-road resolution seem less important, and somewhat tacked on.
Once we get back to the “present” and return to the heroes from The Passage, things get back on track for a while. However, we’re informed after an action sequence that the search for the Twelve has basically fizzled and been called off, leaving Peter to mope and Alicia to seethe, as usual. The plot then begins a long meander toward a finale where all points converge. There are no fewer than eight point-of-view characters all involved in the finale, heroes and villains alike. It gets rather depressing toward the middle of the book as one of the major plot points is revealed. Like the TV show Battlestar Galactica, a long slog through utter grimness eventually leads to a glorious climax.
There is plenty of character development and quiet moments of beauty to be found across the breadth of The Twelve, and toward the end, you won’t be able to put it down. Yet keeping track of all the moving parts, some of which I feel could have been combined for simplicity’s sake (especially Peter’s journey; either have him go with Alicia or Amy), can be daunting. The book lacks the singular focus of The Passage, and while it widens the scope of the story to dramatic, and grim, expanses, I felt like it got a little lost along the way. My guess is Cronin had a much bigger story in mind but couldn’t tell it in just three volumes, so had to condense a lot. In any case, while the story’s execution is curious, confusing, perhaps even confounding, it sticks the landing in perfect form. I’m curious as to where the third volume will take us; my guess is, after this one, not where we expect.
Scott Brick does a terrific job as usual; I understand some people don’t care for his delivery, but I am a fan, and he brings a pitch-perfect gravitas and melancholy to the book’s serious tone. His range is not particularly wide; all characters sound more or less the same. But his voice is capable of such resonance and poignancy that it doesn’t matter. His musical cadence of speech is almost hypnotizing, and is a perfect match for the material.
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.
I'm not sure. I think the book is wonderful, and the series is wonderful, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I've laughed and cried while listening to the book. That said, I'm not sure that anyone I know would love this book the same way I did, given that it's pretty long, and pretty slow.
Well, I appreciate that the same narrator is being used book to book. But I don't really enjoy Brick's narration of this particular book.
I don't always love Scott Brick; I'm sure he's a super guy, but he's so... breathy and has this lazy drawl thing going on, which I find incredibly off-putting. I've recommended a few other audiobooks he's narrated, only to hear "I couldn't even sit through half an hour of that droning voice!"
I don't know, sometimes, he's perfect for the story ("Word of Honor" and "The Company: A Novel of the CIA") but other times, he's just... not. This is one of the "not" books.
No, it's too long.
If you enjoyed The Passage, you'll enjoy this.
This book rates way up there with the best I've read. It's a terrific second installment. I too, like others have mentioned in reviews, struggled a bit with the first few chapters . I am so glad I stuck with it because it evolved into the amazing continuation of The Passage.
It is a deep, complicated and huge story. I loved it and am thrilled that there will be yet another part to this amazing trilogy.
Compared to The Passage, a fresh and refreshing take on the vampire/living dead/viral/wolf thing that US readers have taken to devouring with their Big Mac and shakes, The Twelve is simply tedium.
Mr Cronin would have done well to retain a good editor and to have condensed his "trilogy" to one volume.
Mr Brick, a narrator of skill and accomplishment, must have thought that by sounding mystical and awed he might improve the job. He just sounds overwrought and ponderous. But at least he tried.
Bi-Vocational Pastor/Draftsman. Full time husband and dad. Audiobooks are a staple in my life because I can read and work...
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.
I listened to the first book again to get 'up to speed' as far as remembering the fine points. Started The Twelve with perhaps a little too much anticipation and was ready to move forward with the story. I truly was confused pretty much right off the bat but kept the faith that it would all come together. I kept leaving bread crumbs so I could find my way back to some organized story line but ran out about 1/3 of the way through. There were so many incredible places this story could of gone but it seemed like it just expanded in so many different directions and with so many characters it was hard to keep it all together!
I am a multi-listen person and often enjoy my audio books more the second time through and intend to listen again sometime. I hope that the third book has more of a unifying story line to it where there is fewer characters but more depth to their story.
In terms of being an epic journey, near the top. Certainly this continues the journey started in "The Passage", both adding more detail, plot and complexities, as well rounding out characters and backfilling the story.
The battle scenes are fascinating.
He needs to cover alot of ground, and does a remarkable job in that regard. He is my favourite performer however, so I am naturally biased.
Part 2 of this sprawling series ( I believe it will be a trilogy ) is engrossing ( sometimes gross as well ) and both mystical , almost too much so for it's own good at times, and a wonderful addition to the genre. Most listeners will look me in looking forward to the final installment.
Come to me!!!