In The Passage and The Twelve, Justin Cronin brilliantly imagined the fall of civilization and humanity's desperate fight to survive. Now all is quiet on the horizon - but does silence promise the nightmare's end or the second coming of unspeakable darkness? At last this best-selling epic races to its breathtaking finale.
The world we knew is gone. What world will rise in its place?
The Twelve have been destroyed, and the 100-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew - and daring to dream of a hopeful future.
But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy - humanity's only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him.
One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.
©2016 Justin Cronin (P)2016 Random House Audio
"One of those rare authors who work on two different levels, blending elegantly crafted literary fiction with cliff-hanging thrills." (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
I'm going to keep this review relatively short. Cronin's final installment in the The Passage trilogy was spectacular, sweeping, and brilliant. He delved deep into the nature of love and rage, hope, and finally the simple act of living every day.
I am particularly surprised at the people who didn't like Zero's backstory. Yes, it was extensive, but I found it absolutely spellbinding. Some of the best writing I have experienced in quite a while. It was humanizing, tormenting, and terrifying. I have to confess that I may have originated from a world similar to that which Zero joined. I've spent much of my life on the coast of New England and could relate, heavily, to that existence. These realities may have played into my acceptance of the subplot, but even excluding that, I would be surprised if the underlying intent didn't resonate with someone.
I found the conclusion satisfying, but I do have some issues with a few plot inconsistencies towards the end of the book. I won't delve into them as they are very specific and would result in spoilers... but I think they irritate me because they could have been so easily fixed. However, these are minor in the grand scheme of the trilogy size. When I first finished it, I was somewhat disappointed with the resolution of some of the characters, but this has faded as I have had time to percolate. Once more, not enough to change my rating or my love of the series.
Highest marks and worth the time and effort.
The Passage was a gripping book. The kind you don't put down and blast through in a weekend. This book is not that good. It bogs down considerably in the middle when we meet "Zero". I see what Cronin was trying to do with the character, and I generally don't despise allegory but it gets to be a bit too much here. The pacing problems persist into the final third of the book. By the time it comes to the climax I found myself just hoping to get to the end. It might be me but I was disappointed. Not enough to not recommend it. I just wish it was better paced.
...yes, ten thousand books. This is my favorite trilogy of all time.
Notable aspects about the final book (some of which seem to be bones of contention, judging by other reviews):
1. Scott Brick’s narration
2. Fanning’s backstory
3. Massive jumps in time
4. My minor quibbles
1. Narration: I love Brick’s voice and cadence. No, he doesn’t do character voices (just southern accents for Anthony Carter and Rachel, which I quite liked). I think you either love Brick’s voice or hate it.
2. Fanning (Zero): Personally, I loved hearing Fanning’s pre-virus backstory. I found it interesting and found him to be a likeable though flawed human being. As are we all. But I’m guessing it was there to explain why Fanning comes to do what he does. (See minor quibbles)
3. Time jumps: Yes, there are 1000+ year jumps in time, but they serve the story.
a. I didn’t really buy the reasons for why Fanning does what he does in the part of the post-virus story where most of the action takes place. It wasn’t enough to stop me listening or annoy me too much but…
b. Uh…was one critical character’s storyline NOT wrapped up? It’s possible it was just one line, “And so-and-so was never seen again” and my attention was diverted at that moment in the audio book and I didn’t even realize it.
All in all, while not everything is exactly “happily ever after” for some of our characters, I felt their stories were wrapped up in a satisfying way.
As I said, my favorite trilogy of all time. Throughout these 3 door-stopper books (what’s the audio book equivalent?), I was always completely drawn into the world and characters Cronin created—and so glad that there are a few writers out there who write giant tomes, even if we sometimes have to wait a while for the next book.
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
This was exhausting. Good, but exhausting. It would not have been quite so onerous if there were not so many characters and plot twists that I felt like I had to go back and read the first two books in the series before starting the third. If not, I was certain I would be lost.
I am glad I did. I think I would not have enjoyed the last book of the trilogy nearly as much if I had not reread the first two. But by my calculation, I spent about 96 hours in Cronin's world and while those 96 hours were worth it. I don't think I could have given it another single hour. So I am glad the series ends here.
I thought the ending was wonderful, even though the climax was quite sad. I am still not sure I understood the logistics of the relationship Amy and Peter evidently shared at some point. Whether it existed in reality or not.
My only complaint was I would have cut out about 75-80% of the backstory about Patient Zero. It was a real departure from the plot line and just confused an already confusing cast of characters and key events. Plus I thought Zero was in many ways the weakest character of the series.
If you like Cronin and you liked the first two books in the series, and even though I think a good chunk of the third book adds nothing to the story, you will enjoy this book especially the last 15-20%.
If you want to read this series do not start with this book. Start at the beginning.
Scott Brick is a little to emotive and theatrical to me. But I believed him as the voice of this series.
Well written as usual but a clear drop off from the previous installments. Hours and hours of excess character development (something I'm usually all for)...excess in general. The long, drawn out climax is anticlimactic.
Say something about yourself!
“Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping... waiting... and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir... open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us... guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love... the clarity of hatred... the ecstasy of grief." Josh Whedon
My goal?..."To make the world a wasteland; to bring upon it the mirrored image of my wretched self; to punish my friend, my enemy, who believed he could save a world that was not savable, that never deserved saving in the first place.” Timothy Fanning aka “Zero”
Cronin leaps ahead almost a century since the carnage that killed 11 of The Twelve virals, including Wolgast (who detonated the bomb) picking up with a prologue that recites a biblical-like document presented at the Third Global Conference of the North American Quarantine Period, dated 1003 A.V. (After Virus). It has been 98 years since the liberation from the *Redeyes" at Homeland. The settlements have become crowded and low on supplies--the “People had begun to openly talk about moving outside the wall.” Believing the age of the virals over after *the hundred years of darkness,* survivors/settlers have grown restless..."A continent stood for the taking” ...have they also become complacent?
To attempt a recap would be like trying to fill a swimming pool with a shot glass. To read this without the foundation formed in the two previous books of this trilogy would be pointless--like entering a play during the grand finale without the foundation or background. This is a lot to chew on and digest. My advice for those of you who can't even remember the names of relatives at a family reunion and don't want to re-tread through the nearly 1400 pages (63½ audible hours) of The Passage and The Twelve combined: go to: enterthepassage.com; or even better: The City of Mirrors on wikipedia -- for a list of characters. This complete list of characters and where they fit in the story may help you keep track; listed as *Before Virus Characters; First Colony Characters; The Twelve; The Haven Characters; Republic of Texas Characters; The Homeland.
Other reviewers have complained about the section where Fanning gives us the catalyst, or impetus, for the story. This portion, Fanning's opus *What I did For Love,* may have been my favorite (though it was narcissism in its grandest form). Hidden deep in the shadows, beneath the crumbling remnants of New York's Grand Central Terminal, Fanning tell his story of a forbidden love and the events that led up to his misguided trip into the jungles where the infected bats unleashed the virus. His love-sick and truly menacing tale is a look at the emotional psyche that has driven some of the greatest literature in history--lost love albeit on bat virus steroids. "The joy of love...the clarity of hatred...the ecstasy of grief." Scott Brick kept the story eerily tight with an emotionless voice that seemed to be in respect for the souls gone from the earth; a world scarred by extermination.
The biblical references--or faux Bible texts--are a reflection of the theology contained the book. In an interview, Cronin stated, "I came to believe that the world in this story was one where some aspects were not visible.… across the trilogy, what you will see is a kind of growing spirituality, where certain things are happening in what Amy calls the World Behind the World. [The Seattle Times, June 9, 2016] ...the ark explained; the Twelve *apostles of doom* Amy the savior, the twelve books, etc.
The City of Mirrors is a reflection of the tenacity of the human race. A sprawling and imaginative narrative that spans a millennium; with generations of powerfully drawn characters; a plot that is laser-focused...the final installment is storytelling at its best. Cronin captured his audience with a unique vampire apocalypse story that stood out from others in that genre with The Passage. With the conclusion to the trilogy, he shows us he not only had a good story, but that he is a literary writer with a vision and an understanding of the psychology and philosophy of what it is to be human. How it impacted me was really secondary to the whole accomplishment of the novel. It wraps things up but leaves a chilling thread dangling; (*Note: a missing thread tied in? a minor faux pas, but didn’t trip me up) I always found myself listening with a sense of wonder and a tension controlled by the author; the book has stayed with me since I finished-- almost beckoning me back, to devote those 92 hrs. to a re-read; and finally, with these novels Cronin seized from our language three words that will forever be his...”Come to me” – the disquieting connection to these words will be always be ours.
Scott Brick is the voice of the Passage Trilogy I could listen to his voice everyday. Justin Cronin's, City of Mirrors far exceeded my hopes for a proper ending to this well constructed Trilogy.
I was riveted from the first word to the last. Scott Brick can sometimes be a tad over the top, but he was perfect here. And Cronin!!! What a storyteller. Fanning's backstory proves that he doesn't just do horror well. It was almost like a short story in the middle of the larger novel...but so important in order to make the monster human. I loved every character. Did not particularly understand some of the ways they behaved, but that did not take away any stars. I can't wait to see what he writes next. Whatever it is, I will preorder the second I hear about it.
Photographer, nature & water geek, music lover, book fiend.
Now that it's over, it's hitting home that there won't be anymore written about this cast of characters, or the world they inhabit. Masterfully written and narrated. I'm sorry it's come to a conclusion.
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