The Twelve by Justin Cronin: Book Review/Giveaway/Event

Nov 3, 2012 | 2012 Articles, Fantasy & Fangs, Terrance V. Mc Arthur

by Terrance V. Mc Arthur

This week we have a review of Justin Cronin’s latest fantasy novel, and information on his book event at Mysterious Galaxy, 7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite #302, in San Diego on November 12 at 7 p.m. Phone 858-268-4747.

Also, you can enter to win a copy of The Twelve-details at the end of this review. If you can’t attend the event, you can use the purchase link to get a signed copy of the book! And by purchasing the book through that link you help support KRL and our ability to keep bringing you great content!

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

In Justin Cronin’s 2010 chiller The Passage, a vampiregeddon swept across North America, infecting millions and killing more. A group of young people, raised in a land where only the dead survive, traveled the continent, looking for safety. A child without a family could become the answer to this bloodsucking plague.

Now, here comes The Twelve. Shuttling through 100 years of time, with comments from yet-to-be-scribed scriptures and reference books written 1,000 years in the future, this sequel follows the surviving main characters, while exploring characters that were mere background in the first book.

Cronin returns to when the vampire plague is released, filling in other storylines and adding background. A webcasting vet who goes on the road, a pregnant doctor who witnessed an early vampire attack, a special-needs bus driver who picks up a brother and sister after his city has been emptied of life, and a janitor from the secret research center where twelve death-row inmates were infected with a serum made from the sole survivor of a South American vampire bat attack (creating The Zero and The Twelve): they provide us witnesses to the panic of the cities, which was not shown in the first book.

Amy, the orphan child given a serum that made her co-powerful with The Twelve and slow-aging, nears adulthood after a century of life, doing her best to fight the powerful creator-vampires, trying to fit in with humanity. There’s an administrator at the government installation who takes personal interest in the effects of the disease, and the female fighting machine who…there are so many characters that a cast list appears at the end of the book, but with minimal information on who most of these people are. Best bet: read The Passage just before you read The Twelve, so you’ll have a better idea of what’s going on, but I still was able to have “I get it!” moments when my two-year-old memories clicked in and I saw where things had been and where they were going.

Some of the sequences are powerful litanies of carnage, other prose passages have a lyrical intensity, and there are moments of tenderness from unexpected sources. Of course there are the “Man should not meddle in the affairs of God and Nature” lessons, along with parallels to Homeland Security and Hurricane Katrina, as well as moments recalling WWII concentration camps, Animal Farm, and the fall of European Communism, but there is a lot of story to buffer the preachier themes.

It’s more than 550 pages (and it might even make your Kindle heavier), and it is a hammock book (the second in a trilogy—they often sag in the middle), but it has a lot of story arcs with satisfying endings, even as it creates new questions to be answered. Read on and become infected…with a thirst for the next volume.

To enter to win a copy of The Twelve, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Twelve”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 12, 2012. U.S. residents only.

Click here to order The Twelve from Mysterious Galaxy.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a California-born, Valley-raised librarian/entertainer/writer. He is currently writing a stage adaptation of Jack London’s The Call of the Wild for the Fresno County Public Library’s next The Big Read. He lives in Sanger, four blocks from the library, with his wife, his daughter, and a spinster cat.


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