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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"One of those rare authors who work on two different levels, blending elegantly crafted literary fiction with cliff-hanging thrills." ( Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

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Ends the series with a whimper.

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.

21 of 28 people found this review helpful

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I Could Not Handle a Fourth Book

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.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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After reading approx 10,000 books over my lifetime

...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.

4. Quibbles:

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.

27 of 39 people found this review helpful

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Great conclusion

Any additional comments?

This ended the series in a way that is definitely satisfying for readers. There were no open questions hanging around, and the experience feels completed in a natural way rather than the forced endings that sometimes happen whether by reader or author wishes. All the characters that the books introduce are properly accounted for and their stories never feel unfaithful to the personality that Cronin has so beautifully portrayed with his writing style and skills with the written language. One of the conversations between characters touches on the concept of language as art, and the way a perfectly phrased statement can fully present something just as tangibly inspiring as a painting or other common artistic products. Cronin's writing is definitely a perfect example of that.

Since I've been a fan of Scott Brick from other narrations (though I can't remember specifically which ones now), I am not surprised that he made the experience of this series in audio form enjoyable. I feel that his voice is emotional enough to convey every tone that the series called for and there was a very good differentiation between characters. He is very adept at gender differentiation without sounding like he's trying and jarring you out of the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I enjoyed the series

I enjoyed this series. While the city of mirrors took a long time to be released I found that the author was very thorough! there were no lose ends but one. That stemmed from the first couple of chapters of the first book in this series. Otherwise I finally got my ending to this trilogy. Thank you Justin Cronin.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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In the tradition of Stephen King's The Stand

What did you love best about The City of Mirrors?

Suspenseful, spellbinding conclusion of the Passage Trilogy Series! Lots of unexpected and unforeseen twists and turns. Reunite with characters we met when they were kids...now adults with the awesome responsibility of securing the future! A wonderful and at times delightfully scary read...highly recommend you sleep with the nightlight on after reading ...just in case.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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So close...but no

Cronin at times shows genius as writer, writing with lyrical prose that Scott Brick delivers with his usual genius. That being said, I believe that this series was drawn out to a grating extent. I got the feeling at several times in this series that the failures of the protagonists were devices used to elongate the narrative rather than integral parts of the story. I think a better edit would have made this series one of my favorites. As it stands, it required a great amount of effort to finish the books. Truly a lost opportunity.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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expected more

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.

18 of 28 people found this review helpful

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Disappointing

I hate writing bad reviews given how hard authors and editors work on a book. Its especially difficult in this case when the Author has a lot of talent and writes very well. That being said the third book in the Passage Trilogy is a miss, which is a let down after a really good first book and solid second.

I can't go so far as to say I didn't enjoy it, there are definitely redeeming moments and characters. Regardless, if you're like me, you're probably trapped into buying this because I had to know how the trilogy ends. Much of the character development doesn't work and there plot holes you could've sent the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade through if Fanning had killed them all.

Yes we finally the Fanning back story, but I was left scratching my head thinking "this is the guy who destroys the world?" I was expecting to see some slow, or even fast descent into darkness. But we get a weak character who shows no malevolent traits or tendencies at all. The explanation for his sudden flip from cowardice selfishness to super villain is weak. More on this below in the spoilers section.

He doesn't even have the spine to tell the woman he loves how he feels, or confront his former best friend on his short comings. But he is suddenly working with psychopathic killers on plot to violently murder humanity, and create unprecedented human suffering with no hesitation or remorse.

I get that Cronin wrote love stories before he wrote this series, and basically this is a love story in that is central to the apocalypse itself. I actually like the concept and in many ways its nice nod to Bram Stoker's original vampire tale. That said I get the feeling that Cronin wrote the romances he wanted to write rather than the ones that fit in the story.


SPOILERS SECTION

Biggest disappointment is the fanning backstory. Basically Tim Fanning and Jonas Leer meet at Harvard and become roommates and besties. The only problem is Fanning falls in love with Liz, Leer's long-time girlfriend and future wife. When Leer proposes in front of family and friends, and Liz accepts, Fanning loses it and runs away to study graduate work at the place farthest away form Harvard that gave him an offer. He then goes 20+ years without speaking to either of them (except for the occaisonal running into Jonas at conferences). But he carries the torch for Liz all this time. When he and Liz finally get together, Liz dies of cancer on her way to run off with him and this remorse and depression is supposedly what turns fanning into the "prince of death". However, he doesn't do anything bout it until he becomes the zero, then he decides the world needs to die. No dark thoughts or plans before then. The only thing he does is accidentally kill a woman while completely inebriated, and even them he's mortified about what he did. At the end we get a little more color on this incident and why it was his turning point, but the explanation is weak and his subsequent actions don't match the darkness that was supposedly created.

He completely abandons the Peter Alisha romance in favor Peter + Amy and Alisha and Michael. We can see the Peter Amy combo as they've always had a physic connection. But Alisha an Michael? they showed nothing more than pre-teenage angst of picking on one another. They have nothing on common and view the world completely differently. But they can carry the torch for one another for 20+ years of not seeing one another. Really?

Abandoning the Peter Alisha line was a shame for two reasons. First, they were the only romance of the five or six in the books that had any real passion. Second, and more importantly, Cronin misses an opportunity to put Amy in the same situation as Fanning. The person on the outside of the love triangle, who instead of destroying the world because of the love she lost, decides to save it.

The major plot flaw is that no one in Kerrville, including Peter, Sarah and Hollis, know the Fanning exists. In other words in all that time of looking for the twelve walking to Iowa etc. Amy and and Alisha never bother to mention "oh by the way when we kill the 12 there's one more to go." The result is that Kerville believes the world is Viral free, opens its gates and disbands the Military.

Along the same lines we find out there is way for the original virals (the twelve and Amy) to become human in form by drowning. I get this was done because Fanning is a better evil character if he can talk, and the Amy Peter romance had no where to go while Amy was a full blown original viral. That said if Amy and Carter (who also survived Iowa) know this why don't they go through the process to become human much earlier. If nothing else they could warn everyone about Fanning?

On a separate note this also violates one of the key rules of science fiction fantasy writing. You create a world, you establish the rules and limitations of the fantastical element, and stick to it. You don't have Amy make the sacrifice of becoming a full blown viral to save her friends and then give her a do over. So while I appreciate the cleansing rebirth imagery of the water, its too late in the game to bring it in.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The book is not complete disaster, and I'd be lying if I didn't enjoy it all. Cronin's ability to bring you into scene along with already being invested with these characters and this world carries the story along.

But the two major plot points are sloppy. I felt like Cronin was ready to go back to love stories so he crammed a bunch stories he wanted to write rather than the ones that fit He even puts a love story in the friggin epilogue. Although I will forgive him this, as he successfully use that romance as a medium for showing us what the world is like in AV1000.

If you have to know how he story ends or if you're die hard romantic get the book. If you're on the fence spend your money, credits and time elsewhere.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Love Bites; Love Bleeds

“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.

17 of 28 people found this review helpful