Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Justin Cronin: The Twelve

Screen shot 2013-07-13 at 9.07.49 AM


I had downloaded The Twelve to my iPad for a trip, but didn’t get to it, and sort of forgot it was there until my son mentioned he was listening to it on audio-books, and it was good, maybe even better than the first book in the trilogy, The Passage. He had loaned me The Passage several years ago when it came out, and as soon as I finished, I got on the list to download as soon as the next book came out – it was that good.


Cronin’s gift is an ability to create a future world entirely different from our own, with a devastating enemy – the virals – who, literally, are us, transformed. Cronin can make the enemy terrifying, destructive, truly horrifying – and can make them also captive to their repugnant nature and even pitiable. I think that is an amazing dance for an author to accomplish.


The setting is post-apocalyptic USA; the government had a sector working on a secret weapon which – of course – was not able to be contained, creating 12 super vampire-like creatures called Virals, who in turn create hordes of minions. This volume, The Twelve, is set more than 100 years later, but shifts back to earlier times to help us understand how this disaster occurred, and how characters relate back to the earliest times of the disaster.  The populations live in fear of sudden attacks; one family, out on a picnic, are almost totally wiped out by an eclipse for which the Virals were prepared – and the families were not.


As I read his books, I find them very cinematic, but, as my son and I discussed, too complex for a movie; it would need a gritty HBO series like The Wire, or OZ, or Deadwood to capture the subtleties, the nuances that make this a best-selling series. The heroes and heroines are all make for the screen, their relationships – and inter-relationships – make them interesting, and then, as we learn more, interesting again. We never know enough to make a final judgement on any character; the characters are complex and the relationships obscure until the author chooses to reveal. It makes it fun to try to spot them before he tells us. I missed a couple!


Although it can be read as a great-adventure stand-alone, you’ll be happier if you read The Passage before you read The Twelve. If you have a problem with postponing gratification, you might want to wait until the third and conclusive volume of the trilogy is published  – and that may be a year or so.

July 13, 2013 - Posted by | Adventure, Books, Character, Community, Fiction, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Relationships, Social Issues, Survival | ,

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