The Twelve by Justin Cronin
The first book in this trilogy, The Passage, showed so much literary promise that it was all the more disappointing when it didn’t deliver. With this second book, all aspirations to greatness have been abandoned, and a straight-up and only slightly ridiculous thriller has been given to us. Still a little disappointing, though.
The first book in this trilogy started out in the present day as the vampire apocalypse was just beginning, but as soon as you were hooked, you were yanked 100 years in the future to the stories of the survivors. This second book finally returns to the present day to learn more about the apocalypse and how it all unfolded. I have to admit, spending so much time with the characters in the future in the first book actually made it much more interesting to read about their ancestors during the apocalypse in the second book. That’s a neat literary feat, but it can’t save the rest of the book.
We do finally learn what the virus is all about and where it came from in a few paragraphs of sloppy exposition; perhaps the author realized that he forgot to mention that during the 800 pages of the first book. But we still don’t know what happened to the rest of the world, so of course I’ll read the third book. Fun, but not fantastic.
In the present day, as the man-made apocalypse unfolds, three strangers navigate the chaos. Lila, a doctor and expectant mother, is so shattered by the spread of violence and infection that she continues to plan for her child’s arrival even as society dissolves around her. Kittridge, known to the world as Last Stand In Denver, has been forced to flee his stronghold and is now on the road, dodging the infected, armed but alone and well aware that a tank of gas will get him only so far. April is a teenager fighting to guide her little brother safely through a landscape of death and ruin. These three will learn that they have not been fully abandoned – and that in connection lies hope, even on the darkest nights.
One hundred years in the future, Amy and the others fight on for humankind’s salvation … unaware that the rules have changed. The enemy has evolved, and a dark new order has arisen with a vision of the future infinitely more horrifying than mankind’s extinction. If the Twelve are to fall, one of those united to vanquish them will have to pay the ultimate price.