Review: The Twelve by Justin Cronin

Book: The Twelve
Author: Justin Cronin
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release date: October 16, 2012
Source: Borrowed from local library
Series: The Passage #2
 
Summary from Goodreads:

At the end of The Passage, the great viral plague had left a small group of survivors clinging to life amidst a world transformed into a nightmare. In the second volume of this epic trilogy, this same group of survivors, led by the mysterious, charismatic Amy, go on the attack, leading an insurrection against the virals: the first offensives of the Second Viral War.

To do this, they must infiltrate a dozen hives, each presided over by one of the original Twelve. Their secret weapon: Alicia, transformed at the end of book one into a half human, half viral but whose side, in the end, is she really on?

I know what you’re thinking. Why would I review the sequel to a book I didn’t like all that much?

Well, the ending to The Passage was exciting enough that I felt The Twelve was worth a try. I wasn’t going to spend money on it, but I’d put a hold on the ebook at the library and see what happened. If it didn’t hook me in the first 50 pages, then I could just accept that this wasn’t the series for me and go on my merry way.

So I put it on hold, and when the hold came through, I started reading.

And it completely hooked me.

THIS was the book I wanted to read when I was promised literary-style vampires. THIS was the book I wanted to read when I was promised post-apocalyptic viral mayhem. THIS was 100 times better than The Passage.

Though we are, frustratingly, introduced to even MORE new characters in this book, at least these characters didn’t stumble around incoherently through 50 pages of backstory for each one of them. We also get to spend the majority of the book with characters we know from the first book, and they get to do way more interesting things. I’m still not a huge fan of the author’s stylistic choices, but the narrative switches bothered me much less in this book.

Justin Cronin is juggling a large timeline (100 years or so), multiple locations separated by hundreds of miles, and an enormous cast of characters. While I found the scope to be somewhat disjointed in book one, here some of the puzzle pieces start to fall into place. He has certainly earned my trust that all of my investment in his world will pay off.

In this book, we slide one generation back in time to see some important lead-ins to the current action, and we also get to see a new side of Year Zero. This time around we actually experience the viral outbreak and its immediate consequences on the population. I absolutely loved seeing the government side of the story and how they tried to balance their resources in the face of a society-ending plague. How would they try to quarantine large sections of the country? Who would they sacrifice for the greater good? What would happen to the world economy and foreign relations? These are the kinds of questions I enjoy exploring in post-apocalyptic fiction, and Cronin finally delivers.

The mysteries and objectives facing the characters were thrilling. I was swept up in the story, and found myself trusting Cronin to lead us to where we needed to be. My familiarity with the main characters put me at ease while reading, but the new challenges they faced had me on edge. Life is bleak in this world, and just when you think you know where things are going they take a right turn into a new surprise. It’s very much an enjoyable ride.

Action-packed mayhem, deepening plot mysteries, and strong characters make this a book well worth a read. If you can slog your way through the first book, The Twelve will reward you in spades. I will absolutely be reading the final book when it releases next year, and it can’t get here soon enough.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

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Bout of Books 7.0 – Wrap Up

Bout of Books

 
Bout of Books 7.0 is over! I managed to meet all but one of my goals, which is super exciting for me. I am looking forward to returning to a more leisurely pace, however!
 
Time devoted to reading: I read both ways on my commute and before bed every weekday. I even managed to find good chunks of time on the weekend, which is rare for me. I did better on Sunday than Saturday, and still managed to sneak in a trip to the ballet Sunday afternoon.
 
The goals I accomplished:
  • Read five books total
  • Finished the two books I started prior to the readathon
  • Read at least 1,000 pages
  • Updated Twitter at least three times per day – well, I averaged 3/day

Books read:

  • Splintered by A.G. Howard
  • The Twelve by Justin Cronin
  • Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
  • Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
  • Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter

Total pages read: 1,614

Challenges completed: 0 – ran out of time for these

Thank you Amanda and Kelly and all the challenge hosts for a great Bout of Books 7.0! I had a great time, as always. Looking forward to 8.0!

 

Bout of Books 7.0 – Goals and Updates

Bout of Books

Bout of Books 7.0 is here! I’ll be participating here and on Twitter (@loganturner). For those not in-the-know, here is the official Bout of Books blurb:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 13th and runs through Sunday, May 19th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 7.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

-From the Bout of Books 7.0 team

Time devoted to reading: I want to read at least 2 hours every weekday and 3 hours each weekend day.
My goals for participation:
  • Read at least three books
  • Finish the two books I started prior to the readathon
  • Read at least 1,000 pages
  • Update Twitter at least three times per day – well, I averaged 3/day
  • Participate in a few challenges (view the Official Schedule) – ran out of time

Books to read (subject to change):

  • Splintered by A.G. Howard
  • The Twelve by Justin Cronin
  • Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
  • Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
  • Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter

Updates:

5/13
Number of pages Iâ??ve read today: 185
Total number of pages Iâ??ve read: 185
Books read today: Phoenix Rising (finished) and The Twelve
Today’s tweet: First book down! Now on to that behemoth I keep pretending I’ll finish: THE TWELVE.

5/14
Number of pages Iâ??ve read today: 106
Total number of pages Iâ??ve read: 291
Books read today: The Twelve
Today’s tweet: I’m falling behind on my #boutofbooks tweet goal! I need to get reading and cover 140 pages to make my daily quota. Gulp.

5/15
Number of pages Iâ??ve read today: 178
Total number of pages Iâ??ve read: 469
Books read today: The Twelve
Today’s tweet: Dang! I missed tonight’s chat! FINE. I GUESS I’LL HAVE TO READ. #boutofbooks

5/16
Number of pages Iâ??ve read today: 272
Total number of pages Iâ??ve read: 741
Books read today: The Twelve and Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover
Today’s tweet: 2 books down! Hope to finish one per day from here on out. #boutofbooks

5/17
Number of pages Iâ??ve read today: 235
Total number of pages Iâ??ve read: 976
Books read today: Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover
Today’s tweet: Whee! Done with book three! #boutofbooks

5/18
Number of pages Iâ??ve read today: 128
Total number of pages Iâ??ve read: 1,104
Books read today: Splintered
Today’s tweet: I always overestimate my weekend reading time. #boutofbooks

5/19
Number of pages Iâ??ve read today: 510
Total number of pages Iâ??ve read: 1,614
Books read today: Splintered and Only the Good Spy Young
Today’s tweet: Book 4 done. Can I push it to 5 by midnight? #boutofbooks

Challenges: None this round.

 

Bout of Books 7.0 Sign Up Post

Bout of Books

Bout of Books 7.0 is coming up! Join me here and on Twitter (@loganturner) from May 13-19. For those not in-the-know, here is the official Bout of Books blurb:
 

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 13th and runs through Sunday, May 19th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 7.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. 

-From the Bout of Books 7.0 team

 
Want to join in the fun? Visit the Bout of Books 7.0 sign up page for all the details, create a post, and link up. It’s that easy!
 
C’mon. You know you wanna.