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The Twelve by Justin Cronin
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The Twelve (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Justin Cronin

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1,9241013,554 (3.86)150
Member:ungoliant
Title:The Twelve
Authors:Justin Cronin
Info:Orion (2012), Paperback, 688 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:fiction, own, dystopia, fantasy, science fiction, horror, vampires, thriller, first edition

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The Twelve by Justin Cronin (2012)

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English (98)  German (2)  French (1)  All languages (101)
Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)
The Passage Series: The Passage, The Twelve, The City of Mirrors, by Justin Cronin

My opinion is that the three books that comprise the Passage Series are actually 2 stories that alternate within each of the books. Both stories are good…well written and intriguing; but some of us may not appreciate both stories equally.

The one story is a SciFi monster thriller, where the monsters are an accidental creation of an experiment gone wrong. For those of you who would relish Jack Reacher meets Zombie Apocalypse you'll love this story. Anyone who survives being infected by the evil virus finds that his body has become denser and stronger and as "super" as a human body can realistically get. The down-side is that you need blood to survive. Animal blood works fine, but the way this works is that your craving for blood overrides any thoughts of restricting your diet to little creatures, of which you would have to eat too many to be satisfied. And there are so many more humans, who no longer register on the empathy scale, that it becomes pretty much impossible to discriminate between species.

Those reader who can stomach the poetically graphic description of the anti-hero ripping off a woman's head and then sucking her liters of blood through the straw of her neck will enjoy this side of the books.

"It is an interesting truth that the human body, liberated from its head, is in essence a bag of blood with a built-in straw. Holding her headless torso upright, I positioned my mouth around this jetting orifice and gave it a long, muscular suck."

And please forgive me if I give the impression that this story is a series of horrific bloodlettings; it's not. It's mostly love stories and "the joy of being alive, even now." However, there's no denying that the battle scenes get extremely exciting.

The other section deals with background for each of the various heroes and (mostly) the villains. The villains: what was it in their pasts that made them what they were before they changed, and hence what they became after they changed. The heroes: what gave them the spiritual strength to continue fighting what appears to be a lost cause? This is the part of the novels that actually tries to elicit a sympathetic response and is also literarily very attractive.

Prologue:
"I kept my head down, my nose to the stone. I adopted the practice of taking long drives in the Texas countryside. It was windblown, flat, without meaningful demarcation, every square of dirt the same as every other. I liked to pull the car to the side of the road someplace completely arbitrary and just look at it."

Or, later in time:
"Even then, huddled in agony, I knew that their advantage was temporary; it held no weight. The walls of my prison could not help but eventually yield to my power. I was the dark flower of mankind, ordained since time's beginning to destroy a world that had no God to love it."

Cronin spends a lot of ink getting us to appreciate the history of everyone involved, good and bad. And he does a fine job of it. I would offer some appropriate samples of the kinds of stories that might suggest how nicely the histories flow through the background of the books…but I mostly like SciFi. Forgive me, but I'm not attracted to "the Bridges of Madison County" or any of Jane Eyre's works. Obviously these types of stories are quite good---they just don't attract me much.

I accept that this could be a failing on my part. However, be that as it may, I found the historical part of the books nicely written, but tedious. Yes, I was drawn in and easily "felt" for the anti-hero's challenged love life. Likewise the pathetic youths of the other evilly-transformed. But I was still so much more interested in the monster story that I found myself starting to skim through the "youthful trials and tribulation" to get to the denouement of the plot. But fortunately I didn't.

It's not that I delight in strength and fangs and murder and destruction and blood; but my tendency is toward challenge and conflict, good vs. evil, life vs. death. A story, just for the niceness of the story doesn't interest me a great deal these days. I can easily see these interloping narratives being separated out into a separate series of stories. And, while I did manage to appreciate how the tedious background stories did provide some useful background (they serve to clarify why at least one "demon" was really not evil), I can't help but think that Cronin dragged out the background stories a little longer than necessary…in each case.

I don't know if this was a factor, but I do wonder if, in general, stories being written today are adversely influenced by the desire to "pad the pages" in order to garner larger wages. My feeling is that Cronin could have given us the same character development with fewer words.

In any case, I have to recommend that you read even the potentially tedious and boring parts…not so much for the literary sparkles as for the hidden clues that answer the questions that most irritated me with these books. Things happened and didn't happen that seemed completely incongruous and irrelevant—"Who is this person who just appeared?" "Why are we spending so much time with this person's childhood/failures/whatever?" "What has any of this got to do with the plot?" There was absolutely no hint that any of the seeming filler from the first book would be critical for understanding the last book.

Now that I've finished all three books I'm glad I read each of them all the way through. All questions are answered, all puzzles solved; all lives are ultimately linked and tied tightly together in a most satisfying manner.

Please, don't let me put you off. As nihilistic as the books are, the final ending strongly suggests that there is more to life than whatever we may be suffering at this moment. And that love is indeed greater than pain and death. ( )
  majackson | Sep 14, 2016 |
This is the middle book in the trilogy and while it wasn’t my favorite, it sure was good. The Passage remains my favorite of the three. This story needed to be told so it all could come together at the end. What a writer. Cronin is so descriptive.

First off, for anyone who isn’t familiar with Justin Cronin’s trilogy, this apocalyptic literature is not told in a linear fashion. Saying that, you have to read The Passage first and this one will make sense.

In the previous book you read about life before the virus. It’s life as we know it with stores, shopping, farms, social life, going to school and….everyday life. A virus which is mishandled by the government (what do you know, the government and military had a hand in this apocalyptic catastrophe) leading to a virtual wipe-out of our civilization.

Some survive – fast forward 100 years and you have read about the First Colony in California where people are secured in a compound. It’s a back-to-basics way of life, the sort we read about for our ancestors with them making tools by hand, growing their own food – a life devoid of television, or phones, cars and office life. People have jobs such as teachers, soldiers and farmers. It begins with the year 97 A.V. (after virus).

New characters are introduced but you’ll revisit some favorites such as Peter, Amy, Michael, Alicia and many others. If you read The Passage do you remember the cliff hangers at the end? The Twelve picks 5 years after The Passage and we are introduced to communities in Iowa, Kerrville Texas and one called “The Homeland” which is pure evil.

As with the first book and the last (I have already finished City of Mirrors) this story is about survivors and the lengths they will go to protecting their loved ones and keep the human race from being eliminated.

Not too much food mentioned in The Twelve. As you can see from my Paperwhite a bowl of soup was mentioned and it was a comfort food. Soup is certainly a comfort food, anytime.

So a black bean and vegetable soup is going to be the representative meal for this book. Lots of tomatoes, corn, onions, black beans, green bell peppers and broth. We had a fresh loaf of bread too.

For what it’s worth the recipe may be found at Squirrel Head Manor. This is a toss-what-you-want-in sort of soup. Those are the best.

Happy Reading! ( )
  SquirrelHead | Aug 19, 2016 |
As with The Passage, this book was satisfyingly difficult to read.
Two thumbs up, Cronin. I look forward to the third in the series. ( )
  imahorcrux | Jun 22, 2016 |
As the apocalypse begins to encompass North America, the American Military struggles desperately attempts to contain the virus that it unwittingly unleashed on the population, the surviving humans attempt to escape the heartland for the coasts, only to find themselves caught between the military and the rapidly growing swarms of the monsters who used to be their fellow citizens.

Nearly a century later on a ravaged continent, the few remaining humans from the Republic of Texas search for fellow survivors and discover in Iowa an enemy more despicable than the vampires caused by the viral plague: humans who collaborate with vampires and feed their fellows to them.

Cronin has populated his apocalypse with believable characters with real emotions and motives and created an extremely moving story of fate, faith, and heroic struggle. ( )
  MaowangVater | Jun 6, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)
For the early years of his career as a writer, Justin Cronin won awards and got teaching posts for the sort of book that is described as sensitive and evocative; then he decided to do something else, but to do it with the same seriousness and competence. The first novel of his vampire trilogy, The Passage, was a canny combination of disparate elements – he had learned from Stephen King how to tear the world apart and set monsters loose in it, and from Tolkien how to set a new innocent generation on a quest for the cure to the world's pain. What is impressive about that book, and now its sequel The Twelve, is that there is nothing contemptuous about Cronin's approach; this is a formal exercise based on study and thought, but it has also a serious commitment to the virtues he has found in genre fiction – well-paced flurries of action and a deepened portrayal of the conventional emotions that too often become clichés.
added by marq | editThe Guardian, Roz Kaveney (Oct 25, 2012)
 
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Epigraph
She stood beside me for years, or was it a moment? I cannot remember. Maybe I loved her, maybe I didn’t. There was a house, and then no house. There were trees, but none remain. When no one remembers, what is there? You, whose moments are gone, who drift like smoke in the afterlife, tell me something, tell me anything. - Mark Strand, "In the Afterlife"
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For Leslie, foot-to-foot
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For it came to pass that the world had grown wicked, and men had taken war into their hearts, and committed great defilements upon every living thing, so that the world was a dream of death;
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Watch the clock. Know the location of the nearest hardbox.  When in doubt, run.
Hence the major problem with immortality, apart from the peculiar diet: everything began to bore you.
Give people hope, and you could make them do just about anything. And not just your average, everyday kind of hope--for food or clothes or the absence of pain or good suburban schools or low down payments with easy financing. What people needed was a hope beyond the visible world, the world of the body and its trials, of life's endless dull parade of things. A hope that all was not as it appeared.
They became their enemy, as all must do; they ceased to be slaves, and so became alive.
"Because that's what heaven is," said Amy. "It's opening the door of a house in twilight and everyone you love is there."
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Survivors of a government-induced apocalypse endure their violent and disease-stricken world while protecting their loved ones; while a century into the future, members of a transformed society determinedly search for the original twelve virals.

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