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Post-Apocalyptic trilogy continues with ‘The Twelve’

The end was just the beginning

By Chelyen Davis

The Free Lance-Star

TWO years ago, Justin Cronin envisioned a post-apocalpytic United States in which the population had been decimated by government-created monsters.

“The Passage” was one of 2010’s most popular books, winning Cronin film options for it and its two sequels.

The second book in the trilogy, “The Twelve,” is now out. Cronin has crafted a wide-ranging, detailed story, so “The Twelve” is not really for those who haven’t read “The Passage.”

A quick primer: In “The Passage,” the government injected a dozen death-row inmates with a virus they hoped would make them immortal, fast-healing soldiers. What they got were murderous, supernatural beings that, of course, eventually escaped and went on to either eat or infect most of America.

A century later, helped by the only non-carnivorous result of that military experiment (now a supernatural young woman named Amy), a group of survivors’ descendants figured out that all the “virals” had an allegiance to the original viral that made them. And Amy learned, by killing one, how to kill the Twelve.

“The Twelve” again tells the story on two tracks. It starts back in the present time, as the apocalypse that is the Twelve virals begins, telling the story of the U.S. collapse from a different perspective.

The bulk of the story picks up five years after “The Passage” ends. By now, most (but significantly, not all) of the central characters from “The Passage” are now living in Kerrville, a military compound in Texas, but have largely gone their separate ways. Peter has spent those five years in an increasingly frustrated hunt for the others of the Twelve, who are protected deep in dangerous cities.

Finally, his military bosses send him on a different mission, to help escort a convoy of oil trucks from the Gulf. When that convoy is attacked, Peter starts wondering if there’s something going on beyond the struggle between humans and virals. Once he hears other stories, he really starts asking questions. Questions that might require a trip to Iowa to settle, and will lead to answers far beyond what Peter ever imagined.

And Cronin isn’t even done; “The Twelve” rings in at 562 pages, and a future third novel will finish out the trilogy. His story is perhaps longer than it needs to be, and the pace slows sometimes, but it’s an undeniably imaginative tale. Fans of “The Passage” will surely be eager to catch up with the story.

Chelyen Davis is a reporter for The Free Lance–Star.


By Justin Cronin

(Ballantine, $28, 562 pp.)


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