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.)
Commodities broker, father, husband, and avid scifi/fantasy/self help fan.
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.
Scott Brick does an amazing job narrating and Cronin is an excellent writer. Will check out the next book in the series when it's out and hope it doesn't jump around so much and leave so many empty holes.
The development of the virals is great. The story jumps around quite a bit and is a bit hard to follow at times. Some people in the story are built up, then sort of vanish and you don't hear anything about them. Maybe to be picked back up in the next book? Who knows.
Just as good as the first in the series.
The book gives some nice backstory on the events between the viral outbreak and the start of the "modern" age from the latter part of The Passage (97 years after outbreak). Then it picks up after that, building up to a grand finale, where instead of letting the characters resolve the situation on their own, deus ex machina is used to resolve this book's storyline.
Although in retrospect I guess the first book had something arguably similar. It didn't stick out to me last time, but this time boy it sure did.
Scott Brick's performance was good, as in the previous.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Say something about yourself!
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.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.