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The Twelve (Book Two of The Passage…

The Twelve (Book Two of The Passage Trilogy): A Novel (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Justin Cronin

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Title:The Twelve (Book Two of The Passage Trilogy): A Novel
Authors:Justin Cronin
Info:Ballantine Books (2012), Kindle Edition, 589 pages
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The Twelve by Justin Cronin (2012)


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Totally immersed in the world of The Twelve and in tears by the end. Well structured, with good characters, action sequences, a few ridiculous coincidences (but you want those so you don't care a whit). Delicious, and I don't just mean the blood. ( )
  jjaylynny | Nov 12, 2016 |

Originally posted here

This is the middle book in The Passage trilogy and I have to admit, The Twelve lacks the same magic that was abundant in The Passage.

The book started tantalisingly, the reader is given a short summary of the events of the first book in the form of a future document called The Book of Twelves, then there is a short chapter set five years onward from events from the last book which focuses on some of the fates of the main characters. But then, too suddenly the narrative switches to a new group of characters back at the beginning of the outbreak, year zero; before going back to the storyline five years onward from the last book. Don't get me wrong I liked the time jump, it was all very interesting, it was the last third of the book that seemed a little messy.

I was left feeling confused and unsure of what was happening at points as the narrative becomes super weird with an over saturation of character transformations with dream sequences. I'm thinking particularly of Amy here. I have no idea what on earth is going on with Amy or Alicia for that matter.

The dystopian Homeland was really well done and despite all of the gory violence I really enjoyed that part particularly. The Twelve perplex me though, as does Zero. I still do not fully understand what their significance is. It gets a little too 'weird fiction' for my tastes in parts.

There were characters that I just did not remember and had to backtrack through The Passage to remind myself. Bearing in mind I read them back to back, I can't imagine how hazy details must have been for readers who had a longer gap. I think Cronin could have helped this by weaving in slight refresher sentences about the secondary characters here and there like other authors have done in other series that I have read.

So in short, this book barely made it to a 3 star rating, it was convoluted and quite bizarre in parts. I will still read the next book, City of Mirrors but I need a break for now. ( )
  4everfanatical | Oct 26, 2016 |
Though I enjoyed reading it, The Twelve suffered from the Second-in-a-Trilogy Syndrome, in which a book tries to cover too much ground too quickly between the first installment and the last. The story felt rushed in many places, like there was more to say but the author was worried we'd lose interest if he didn't get on with the action. On the contrary, the slower more contemplative pace of the first book was one of the things I liked best. This one felt more like a summer blockbuster, and I can't help wondering if that was intentional. Many of the action scenes seemed like they were written for the big screen, and while some of them were admittedly pretty awesome, others were just gratuitous helpings of gore and explosions. I probably wouldn't have been so critical if the first book hadn't been so much better. In The Passage, Justin Cronin proved that he is a very talented author who can write a gripping thriller without sacrificing literary quality. That's why I am a little disappointed by the crowd-pleasing sequel. ( )
  trwm | Oct 6, 2016 |
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.

"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 |
Showing 1-5 of 101 (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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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"
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;
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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