The Twelve is the second book in Justin Cronin’s The Passage trilogy about a (man-made) zombie apocalypse. The story in this book is primarily set in the post-apocalyptic era when human civilization is slowly recovering and rebuilding almost a century later after the events in the first book (The Passage). It depicts a world completely transformed and dominated by the existence of superhuman, near-immortal creatures that feed on human blood and can transform regular humans via infectious contact.
The Twelve is both better and worse than the first book The Passage. It’s better in that it’s more suspenseful and full of even more horrifying scenes of death and destruction than those that appear in the fall of civilization (and immediate aftermath) depicted in the first book. This book also spends a fair amount of time depicting the details of the collapse of society(from a different perspective) but then it focuses on the society that replaces the one that fell. It is the portrayal of the replacement society where The Twelve gets even more horrifying because the perpetrators of death, destruction and inhumane behavior are not mindless beings infected with a a virus that turns them into bloodthirsty killing machines but humans who are intentionally and self-interestedly behaving in an inhumane way and setting up an absolutely perverse society. These are all elements of the book which are stronger in the sequel than in the first book.
The parts of The Twelve that are weaker than The Passage are generally related to the writing. It seems a little churlish to complain about realism in a book about superhuman bloodsucking zombies leading to the collapse of human civilization. But there are multiple scenes and chapters which involve mystical, supernatural powers and several discussions of spiritual connections between characters that were somewhat impenetrable and incomprehensible to me. I'm a fan of speculative fiction in general but when it veers off into horror or supernatural I'm just not interested.
Overall, I still enjoyed the book quite a bit. Cronin has created a compelling (and terrifying) world and has a knack with suspenseful plotting. His characters are well-drawn and easy for readers to connect to and become worried about which will survive. Although many of the story lines are resolved there are still important plot points left which will presumably be completed in the third book, The City of Mirrors which I intend to read sooner rather than later.
Title: The Twelve (The Passage, #2).
Author: Justin Cronin.
Paperback: 626 pages.
Publisher: Ballantine Books.
Date Published: October 16, 2012.
Date Read: May 20, 2018.
GOODREADS RATING: ★★★★½☆ (4.5/5.0).
OVERALL GRADE: B+ (3.33/4.0).