#RRSciFiMonth Book Review: The Twelve by Justin Cronin


Sci-Fi November is a month-long blog event hosted by Rinn Reads and Over The Effing Rainbow this year, created to celebrate everything amazing about science fiction! From TV shows to movies, books to comics, and everything else in between, it is intended to help science fiction lovers share their love and passion for this genre and its many, many fandoms.

the twelve

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction

Series: The Passage #2

Publisher: Random House (October 2012)

Author Infoenterthepassage.com

Wendy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

“We made vampires. Sorry, it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

black line 2

The Twelve begins by going backwards, taking us to the blanks that the previous book, The Passage, left behind by giving us the dark details of the outbreak that resulted in a vampiric apocalypse. The first part of the book introduces several interesting characters through whom we experience the terror and hopelessness of this extinction level event — but don’t get attached. This is an apocalypse after all and anyone going into apocalyptic stories expecting no one, even their faves, to die, is … well. I prefer a bit more realism in my apocalypses, so, I’ll be upset, but I will appreciate the narrative drama of a favourite characters death, as long as it’s done well, and not teased and then negated a few episodes later for sweeps week or something. Yeah, I’m talking to you, The Walking Dead.

Once passed the past, we get re-acquainted with some of the crew from the first book, as well as a few other characters. As always, Cronin is big on developing all these characters with sometimes meandering backstories filled with greater detail than may actually be necessary. But, I must point out that, Cronin tends to flesh out the male characters a lot more, than the female characters. In fact, while the chapters are often told from different character perspectives, the female PoV chapters often only provide a cursory look through their eyes, and worse, their lives are most often subject to the men in their lives or tropes — or both. There’s crazy Lila who lost a baby and keeps trying to replace it while constantly hallucinating over the men she married and the man that currently dominates and beats her. Sarah, who also gets to play in the motherhood trope, or Alicia the loner warrior who — oh hey rape! And of course Amy, who goes through a significant transformation, but Cronin fails to give us much of that through her perspective, which would have really added some depth to characters.

The Twelve leans more heavily on religion this time around, which is no surprise, considering where the story is situated. The religious aspect features most prominently among the new world order that is being pieced together. As we’ve learned from almost every other apocalyptic story, humanity sinks to its lowest during these times and only the most power hungry and depraved can keep the unwashed, frightened masses in check. Screw the idea of the majority of humanity coming together to rebuild and be nice to each other. Where’s the drama in that! Yeah, I’m talking to you, The Walking Dead. Still, I was a bit pleasantly surprised when the pieces of this dystopia connected with the threads woven in the past. I did enjoy the way the science that shaped the rise of the vampires continues to evolve here, and is then shaped by the powers that be with just the right amount of religious context to make this horrific new reality believable.

But of course, our heroes aren’t going to stand for that, and therein lies the plot, which culminates in an expected showdown that dissolves into some rather chaotic predictable storytelling. This is where the book really fizzles, and the Twelve that our heroes have been hunting all this time prove to be a disappointment. Not every climax needs to end in a giant stadium showdown.

I enjoyed this book more than I did the first, but in the end, I am at the same place I was with The Passage. I sort of care about these characters and enjoyed the worldbuilding well enough, but I’m not really in a rush to continue on.

Wendy 2

12 Comments on “#RRSciFiMonth Book Review: The Twelve by Justin Cronin”

  1. The religious aspects are always a bit tricky for me but if it is well dosed it’s perfect. It sounds like an interesting sequel with the old and nw characters.


  2. Not being in a rush to go on is the perfect summation of my feelings at the end of The Passage: the story was a fascinating one (post-apocalyptic tales always are for me), but the meandering writing and sometimes uninspired character building did not keep my interest level too high.

    Oh, and your jabs at The Walking Dead had me smirking in total understanding… 🙂


  3. I’m about halfway through The Passage and… not loving it. I don’t want to give up on the book as I’m reading it as a sort of book-club with two friends. So The Twelve goes back to fill in the gaps of The Passage – but would you say The Passage stands by itself or is it incomplete if you don’t read the other books?


  4. This one has been sat on my shelf for a while. I read The Passage about 5 years ago, and somehow still haven’t gotten round to this. It’s a shame that this one wasn’t any great improvement for you!


  5. I really “enjoyed” The Passage but your last line rings true – I have not rushed out to read The Twelve. I’m bummed at your assessment of how the ladies are developed:(. I would especially like a deeper dive into Amy! Oh well, I guess I’ll get to it when I get to it.


  6. I’ve read the Passage and this, and I have the finish to the trilogy on my kindle, but it will probably be a year or more before I ever get around to it. It is not a Top Priority, at all 🙂


  7. Yeah, my feelings too – I read the first and bought the second but still haven’t moved on. One day maybe although this doesn’t exactly make me want to dive in tbh – it just makes me feel a bit meh!
    Thanks for the review – I think you’ve captured my feelings perfectly!
    Lynn 😀


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