Title: The Twelve
Author: Justin Cronin
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
It’s Year Zero of the infection that threatens to wipe out the human race. People don’t know where to turn as the world collapses around them, and three people—Kittridge, Lila, and April—face the coming destruction in very different ways. One hundred years later, Peter, Alicia, Amy, and the rest of their group continue to fight for the future of human civilization and struggle to learn everything they can about the virals.
Note: This review was written without spoilers of The Twelve or The Passage.
The Twelve is the long-anticipated sequel to Justin Cronin’s sweeping novel The Passage, about a bleak future in which virals (something comparable to vampires, though this is not a vampire novel) have overrun the world. While The Passage focused on a group of people fighting the virals 100 years after the outbreak, The Twelve takes the reader back to the beginning, to understand what happened when the virals rose as well as the aftermath.
It’s interesting to go back to the beginning, and Cronin keeps the reader hooked in The Twelve. Despite the lack of familiar faces (though readers will recognize some names), the author creates entirely new stories for the reader. This is Cronin’s strength, his ability to develop rich, complex characters with just a few paragraphs. When the reader finally returns to the people they came to know and respect from The Passage, it’s like revisiting with old friends. Cronin continues to develop these characters, and it’s interesting (and in some cases, shocking) where he takes them.
The other strong point of The Twelve is the mythology, the intricate storyline Cronin presents. It’s amazing how far it reaches and its sheer breadth; readers will be surprised and delighted as they recognize remote connections among storylines and characters. The story of the virals expands in this novel, and it’s incredibly interesting to understand where they came from, as well as where they’re going. If you’re interested in gorgeous, compelling novels of expansive scope, this is absolutely a trilogy you should be reading.
Cronin also stuffs The Twelve with atmosphere. He captures his locations beautifully with his descriptions and each sentence is packed with details. It makes the experience of reading this novel completely immersive. The characters are deep and realistic (but flawed), the storyline is mesmerizing, and the writing oozes with atmosphere. If you’re looking for a novel you can fall into, The Twelve (but if you haven’t started with The Passage, look there first) is definitely a novel to pick up immediately.
Other novels by Justin Cronin: