The end of the world was only the beginning.
In his internationally best-selling and critically acclaimed novel The Passage, Justin Cronin constructed an unforgettable world transformed by a government experiment gone horribly wrong. Now the scope widens and the intensity deepens as the epic story surges forward with...
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.
A heart-stopping thriller rendered with masterful literary skill, The Twelve is a grand and gripping tale of sacrifice and survival.
©2012 Justin Cronin (P)2012 Random House Audio
Named one of the Ten Best Novels of the Year by Time and Library Journal, and one of the Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post, Esquire, U.S. News & World Report NPR/On Point, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"[A] blockbuster." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Magnificent...Cronin has taken his literary gifts, and he has weaponized them.... The Passage can stand proudly next to Stephen King’s apocalyptic masterpiece The Stand, but a closer match would be Cormac McCarthy’s The Road." (Time)
I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it.
There are very few books that I've waited as long for, or in as much anticipation of. I was a big fan of "The Passage" when it came out, and made a point of reading it again just before the release date of "The Twelve". This turned out to be a much smarter thing to do than I had anticipated, and I encourage anyone that's considering doing so to do it. "The Twelve" takes the surface story we got in "The Passage", and adds depth, breadth, and context to it. One of the main ways Cronin does this is by fleshing out the background and history of the characters; some of which were not major players in the first book.
Readers of "The Passage" know that part-way through, there was a very... unexpected (and for many readers, myself included) unwelcomed turn of events that meant we were not going to continue with many of the characters and plot lines we'd come to care about. I know from other people's reviews that some readers even stopped reading at that point. I made the choice to continue, and was incredibly glad that I did - but it was still a hard pill to swallow at the time.
Now I realize that I should have given more credit to Justin Cronin's grand plan for his trilogy.
The first thing that really struck me as I began was that the quality is just as good as the first novel; the tone, the pacing, and the mood were all consistent and it was great to have Scott Brick back as the narrator. Once the story begins, we are promptly taken BACK to Year Zero. We see what happened to other characters we knew, and get a view of how the country handled the beginning of the crisis. More importantly, we slowly start to understand how these people end up affecting the world of 97 AV. I really enjoyed being able to fill in these holes, and the connections that are artfully woven between the characters in both times.
Time moves fluidly in this novel; transporting us not just to Year Zero and 97 AV, but also too a "mid-way point" of 79 AV, which allows for more background and history of the world and people in 97 AV.
This novel crystallizes what a huge, clear vision the author has for this trilogy. While I hate that it's over, and waiting until 2014 for the final chapter, I thought this book was fantastic and took the level of story-making to the next level, compared to the first book.
Finally, I just want to note that although we visit a few different times to allow for more plot development, I never felt I was being kept from the characters I wanted to spend time with. The book was done so incredibly well, it leaves me at a loss - so all I'll say is 5 stars, and enjoy the adventure.
(The kindle version of this book provides a list of all characters, organized by what year and place they were in, at the very end of the novel. After not having much luck online finding a list to help clarify a few things for myself, I got the Kindle version and just opened up the cloud reader option to open the book. If you choose "Table of Contents" from the books menu, right near the end you'll find an option in bold caps: "Dramatis Personae". If you click on that, it pulls up the characters. For me, this ended up being worthwhile. I have a feeling there are even more character connections than I picked up on yet; and I'm sure more are coming with book 3.)
Thirty-something geek who loves sci fi and fantasy.
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.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
The Twelve is Book 2 of the the Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin which I read about a year ago. While this book is a continuation of the story, it reads somewhat like a different story. The action is faster and moves from scene to scene and character to character much more swiftly and with much less intimacy than the first installment of the trilogy. The less than intimate treatment of characters makes for a cast of characters we care less about. We seem to spend less time with them and more with the action and that action sometimes seems a bit disjointed and less cohesive than in Book 1.
This is one of the darkest and horror-filled series I’ve ever read. Bram Stoker or H.P. Lovecraft have nothing on this guy. Normally, while I often gravitate to dystopian novels, Cronin’s books, I believe, are in a class by themselves. Horror in many books seems to go on and on in detail and I either have to turn away or stop reading completely. In those it is gratuitous, horror for horror sake and how really nauseated can I make the reader feel. I don’t think Cronin is that type of author. Truly, this book is intense but the horrific scenes are within the context of the whole dystopia and not focused on to the extent of disgust and revulsion. It is the entire landscape, the entire dark and formidable continent of North America that jumps off the pages.
The writing is excellent the narration impeccable if you like Scott Brick and I do. There are passages where Scott Brick seems to talk like Scott Brick and they’re not great but once the characters come in, he disappears and it is only the actors who remain; Scott Brick completely disappears. I felt that way about the first in the trilogy and this one is no different.
The Random House Audio or Audible production (whoever can take credit for it) has its shortcomings. It is another one of those books where scenes sometimes change within a chapter and the way the narrator continues from one scene to the next without any kind of interlude, it can leave the listener confused. Like, where are we? How did we get Here? And, when the text goes between the present and future, it can get downright disconcerting. But that aside, I think the book was done well. I don’t think many who enjoyed the first of the trilogy will be disappointed by its sequel. I would not recommend reading the two out of order.
This is, in a word, tremendous. Why? Here are a couple of very solid reasons...
This is entertaining and thoughtful, and BETTER that the first novel, in my opinion. That makes this a wonderful middle book in any trilogy. A middle book needs to re-capture us, and propel us along to the next and final novel, is such a way that's not rushed nor abbreviated. Cronin does this beautifully. Cronin has GROWN as an author, and it definitely shows here. His style is richer, his descriptions are more robust, and he does both without being excessive. That's what good writing does, and this most definitely IS good writing.
Also, Cronin captures the story with exceptional competency and depth. Cronin has a strong literary handle on the ideology, facts and terminology of the separate stories that he weaves together in this telling of the initial events of the outbreak, and each unique perspective of the main characters in each story within this novel - And that's no mean feat for an author.
Finally, the plots (yes, there are many!), characters and major points of the story are woven together perfectly to make any reader of the Passage satisfied at the turning of the last page in the wonderful middle novel.
Again, I do NOT give plot lines, spoilers, nor even quotes from audiobooks that I love. Remember, self-discovery of great listening is paramount. Any reveals on my part would be unforgivable in this strong writing. But...I will say this:
Don't hesitate on this one. It's a MUST.
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.
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.
Avid audible listener for over 10 years.
I read The Passage and was engrossed. I bought the audio sequel the day it was released at audible. I had a difficult time following the story line. It jumps from past to future and back like a game of ping pong. If you lose attention for a minute you find yourself entirely confused. In a print version you can flip back to find the time transition. In audio format it's difficult.
Although I love Scott Brick, the story is just too complex with too many characters. I expect the print version would be better format to consume this book. Normally I almost always like audio more than print. After 12 hours of listening I just put aside for a later date. Maybe when I am sitting on a beach with nothing else to do I will pick it up again.
Like so many others, I loved The Passage and was counting down the days until The Twelve was available on Audible. Sadly, the book did not live up to my expectations. All the compelling tension of the first book seemed to be missing from this one. The story had its moments, mostly in the second half, but characters that seemed so complex and 3-dimensional in The Passage felt flat. Scott Brick is one of my favorite narrators, but I felt that he contributed to the slow pace of the novel this time. I ended up listening on 1.5X speed which helped move the book along. Will I take on the third book in the trilogy? Probably, but I hope Mr. Cronin listens to his critics.
From my reading history my perfect book would include; a space ship piloted by Ender Wiggin, that is infested by Zombies, who are being hunted by Drizzt Do'Urden and Lestat, while Joe Ledger and Amy Harper Bellafonte try to keep the ship from distroying Middleguard. The Sequal would be from Bean's perspective, with an epilogue by Malcolm Gladwell.
This is a Must Listen. This book is very much worth $45.50 and worth way more than a credit. If you haven't read The Passage buy it, hear it, love it and come back here. Both Novels are wonderfully written and filled with fantastic characters and stories. They are both filled with excitement, some sadness/madness, and a few scoot to the edge of your seat jump up and whoop moments. And when it isn't all tension it's like gravity.
The Twelve is a worthy sequel to The Passage, though it didn't quite keep me up at night like the first book. The imagery and pacing doesn't quite pack the same punch, and if you're not a careful reader some of the most important character relationships can sail right past you. The Passage introduced the reader to a strange new world full of horrors brought to life with vivid imagery and suspenseful chase scenes, whereas The Twelve is told in a series of sorrowful vignettes which only during the last quarter of the book begin to tie together. The Twelve requires a bit more patience to enjoy, though I definitely did.
One of the more entertaining aspects of The Passage was Justin Cronin's skillful employment of tropes. He weaves elements which could easily become cliche into a story that's greater than the sum of it's parts, a Hollywood action movie on literary steroids. In The Twelve, Cronin takes a different approach.
The Twelve is structured more as a biblical parable of sin and redemption (or sin and destruction). The story focuses more on the (non-viral) antagonists; each is given an elaborate backstory full of suffering, each makes a terrible decision in response to their anguish and becomes a monster, then finally each is redeemed or destroyed depending on whether or not they try to right their terrible actions.
This may turn off readers that are expecting another scary sci-fi adventure. The religious references are also dialed way up to 11, which while cute at first might become a little irritating by the end. Finally the characters from the first book generally take a back seat to the new antagonists, and sometimes come off as a little too woodenly "Good".
Scott Brick delivers his performance in a lilting, melancholy voice that's absolutely appropriate for Cronin's prose. In some other books I wonder if Brick doesn't actually interfere with the story by adding pathos the author didn't intend. Not so with The Twelve (or The Passage), where his style is a perfect fit for both the style and the substance of the book.
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