The Twelve by Justin Cronin is the second book in The Passage trilogy series. If you’ve read The Passage, then you should have an idea of where things are headed here. With the virals having pretty much destroyed the United States, the search continues to hunt down the original twelve virals to hopefully put a stop to the madness. I seriously had nothing but love for The Passage. The story was gripping and although it was considered a bit wordy, I loved almost every bit of it and have recommended it to many readers. However, I can definitely not say the same for The Twelve. When you are not even halfway through the book and feel dreaded to continue reading, something is wrong. Here, the author goes away from the virals as the focal point and instead spends a whole lot of time performing world and character building. The problem here is that the world is a mess and no matter where the characters go, it’s still a deserted mess so it doesn’t make for a very interesting read. The other major problem is that most of the characters are just plain ol’ boring. Although the story doesn’t take a back seat, it’s just that the author spends way too much time developing it when instead the book could have been much shorter and focused.
Having read The Passage when it first came out, I have now totally forgotten almost every single character in the story save for Amy. It’s ironic because I considered her to be one of the more boring characters in the story yet I somehow remembered her the most. With The Twelve, I somehow found myself reading Wikipedia to refresh my memory of what happened in The Passage and I suggest you do the same as well if you find yourself lost when reading The Twelve. The author does very little to jog my memory and assumes that I’m reading this book immediately after having read the first. He does drop hints at certain places and recollects some events in the past but I still had a hard time remembering. This is weird because I have no problem recollecting characters in a series such as in A Song of Ice and Fire where it’s basically characters galore. This proves to me that the characters in The Passage trilogy is just not that interesting. Yes, Amy is still suppose to be one of the most unique characters in the story but yet is still a bore to read.
The story is something I have the most issue with in The Twelve. There are definitely memorable parts and set pieces sprinkled throughout the story but those are far and between. The good news is that we do get a view of how the survivors are making do in a world filled with virals. The dreadful atmosphere is definitely there and it really makes you feel a part of the world. If you haven’t guessed already, this trilogy is very depressing and The Twelve more than proves that point. The book’s title refers to the original twelve virals that were infected with the virus and here some of the characters set out to hunt them down. The problem here is that things take a long time to develop. The other thing I didn’t like is that the book was just not as scary as the first. With The Passage, there were actually parts that gave me goosebumps such as when reading about Zero in the lab before things got out of control. When they broke free, I felt genuine terror for the civilians. I hardly got any of that here. Here, although Peter is one of the main protagonist, I didn’t really care if he lives or dies in the end.
While this book was a general disappointment to me, I do admit that when the action did get started, those parts were fun to read. However, I still couldn’t shake the feeling throughout the book that I just wished the book would come to an end. At around 600 pages, this is no small book. However, I’ve read many books past this number but never wanted the story to conclude. But when you have many slow and boring parts, that 600 page book seems to be a whole lot longer than it should be. Honestly speaking, I am actually dreading what the author should come up with in the last book of the trilogy. I have no idea of how he can keep things interesting. Although I will still read the last book, I’m definitely not keeping myself up at night waiting for it.