October 16, 2012

The Twelve by Justin Cronin: Review

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the twelveI was lucky. The good people at Random House provided me with a copy of The Twelve. I’ve been waiting for the sequel to The Passage since I read it in 2010. That’s a long wait when you’ve had the experience I did when I read The Passage. I had very high expectations. I didn’t love The Twelve as much as The Passage, but I loved it in a different way. I mean, that was the book, how can lightning strike twice?

The Twelve, at first, jumps around in time between Year Zero, 79 After Virus, and 97 After Virus, before it finally settles in the year 97 AV. Year Zero is, of course, when the shit hits the fan and the Virals are unleashed upon humanity. In this section, the story follows a busload of survivors just trying to avoid getting torn to pieces and also handful of government officials. This all seemed rather random to me until later in the book.

In Year 79 AV, an incident in a field leads to some very important discoveries in Year 97.

Unto Year 97. Our intrepid heroes from California have made it into the Republic of Texas, where a seemingly endless supply of oil and hydro keep the lights on and the Virals away. You can never be too careful though and run ins with the creatures still occur. Alicia and Peter have joined the Expeditionary as soldiers fighting the Virals, but also believe that they can end this scourge by finding The Twelve, the original Virals, and killing them.

Unbeknownst to the Texans, a group of humans in Iowa have found a way to keep a precarious balance between the Virals and humans. They’ve tapped into a source that keeps a select group of humans forever young. This few would do anything to keep things as they are, including the kidnapping and enslavement of their own kind.

Meanwhile, Amy the Girl from Nowhere, still a young girl though nearly 100 years have passed, feels a change coming. Something is up with the Virals. She must take a journey to find out what’s what.

The Twelve still has that same mystical quality that The Passage had, yet I didn’t feel quite the same. While reading The Passage, I would go outside and not understand why everyone was acting so normal. Didn’t they know the Virals were coming? Okay, not really, but that book got right into my head like wow. I also didn’t feel emotionally wrecked at the end of The Twelve. Things are looking up for the human race by the end. That’s not to say that the terrible, awful things don’t happen because they do. Gird your loins, people, it gets rough.

For me, the book dragged a bit in the middle. Our heroes meet up occasionally to hug it out and talk about the dead. It’s a downer. Then things pick up as everyone prepares for battle. It’s not just the Virals they have to worry about but humans too. Humans are awful good at doing nasty things to each other, which is how we all got into this mess in the first place. The last 200 pages or so flew by. And just like that, it’s over. Thank goodness the storyline is concluded by the end and we’re not left hanging. There is still a lot left to do in Book 3 before the human race can go back to making episodes of Honey Boo Boo though. Don’t worry.

Cronin’s post-apocalyptic world is so well created that I forget that it’s not real. It’s North America but not North America. I loved how the characters in the future would come across a McDonald’s or hotel and wonder what it all meant. There are miraculous reunions in The Twelve, much like Jane Eyre’s cousins you just have to go with it. There are no coincidences here, everything has a purpose. It adds to the mysticism of this world.

I appreciated the reader help in the form of the prologue. It reads like scripture, but actually it’s a summing up of what happens in The Passage, in case you forgot. Also, there’s a character list at the back of the book, which I really needed.

If you loved The Passage, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with The Twelve.

Thanks to Random House Canada for the review copy. Thank you!





  1. I know these books have tons of fans but I don't think they're for me.

  2. Can't wait to read it! I'm glad of the recap, though. I wasn't feeling a re-read of The Passage, no matter how much I loved it.

  3. La la la la. I can't read this until I've read the book!

  4. Oh gosh, I'm rather frustrated with this one. I was #1 on the library wait list, and now somehow I'm moved down to #6 with no explanation. I enjoyed the first book, but I can't read this review until I've read the second. It seems that I'll like it, though, from your closing marks. Nice on snagging a review copy, though!

  5. I guess it was addictive enough for you to finish so quickly.

  6. Now I feel I should go and get a copy of The Passage, previously I wasn't too bothered about it, but you had me when you spoke of how it had affected you. It sounds a lot better than I thought it was, the set-up at least (because I've not read much about The Twelve yet).

  7. I read The Passage and had a love-hate relationship with the book. I had a lot of issues with it, but also had enough in it to make me want/need to know what happens next. I will likely by this book in EBook for, as it's quite the chunkster of a book, and my poor shelves are already to full. Glad you enjoyed the second one.

  8. I will stop by again once I've finished it. I just started it so I skimmed.

  9. I didn't read all your review because I want to read the book first. I did skip to the end though - good to hear there's a round up because I think I've forgotten most of the original!
    Lynn :D

  10. I love that you loved in a different way than The Passage - so true! Thanks so much for the stunning review and I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it.


  11. This was a tough read for me; I felt confused most of the time and kept wishing I had re-read The Passage right beforehand. I wanted to love it. I do still love the overall story so I'm committed to the trilogy and will eagerly await the final installment!

  12. I really enjoyed The Twelve. It wasn't the perfect novel, but the first third was utterly brilliant, IMO, and the rest pretty good. Part of me wished I had reread/relistened to The Passage before starting The Twelve. It took me a bit to reacquaint myself with some of the characters.

    Rowena Hailey (Kent WA Search Engine Optimization)

  13. I had never heard of The Passage or The Twelve until I read this review. I recently read The Passage and loved it. I began reading The Twelve almost immediately after finishing The Passage and loved it, too. (I just finished it last night.) I remembered that it was your review of The Twelve that had gotten me interested in the first place and I wanted to come to your blog to say "thank you". I cannot wait for The City of Mirrors to come out next year.


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