The Twelve by Justin Cronin
Why I Checked It Out: “The Twelve” is the sequel to “The Passage,” one of Time Magazine’s Top 10 Books of 2010 (and the best book I’d read in six years). To say I have been eagerly awaiting this follow-up book is an understatement.
Why I Recommend It: Middle books in planned trilogies are tricky things, often full of set-up and character development but very little action or payoff. “The Twelve” is as gripping as the first book but in a different sense. Where “The Passage” ramps up the action with a fight for human survival in a harsh, post-outbreak world overrun with vampire-like killing machines, “The Twelve” delves more deeply into the evil that ordinary people are capable of.
“The Twelve” follows the format of “The Passage” in that it begins with the story of several characters in the time immediately following the spread of the virus and the panic and confusion that it caused. It introduces you to a couple of key players in the story and then jumps to the future and rejoins the main characters of “The Passage” in their post-apocalyptic setting. It sounds confusing, but it isn’t. The storyline is clear and well-told.
Yes, this book is full of people eking out a living in unforgiving conditions, dealing with separation, little food, horrible jobs and the uncertainty that comes with the dwindling human population in a world filled with monsters, but given all of that, none of it is truly the heart of the book. Just as he did in “The Passage,” I feel like Cronin really makes his characters the focus of his books. Their love for each other is often the only thing they have. Their relationships and their loyalty are what give them the courage to face what seem to be overwhelming foes.
The conclusion of the trilogy, “The City of Mirrors,” is due out in 2014.
What To Read Next: If you’d love to read other dystopian tales of survival try one of these titles: