The Twelve

Justin Cronin, Author
Justin Cronin. Ballantine, $28 (592p) ISBN 978-0-345-50498-2
Compact Disc - 21 pages - 978-0-7393-6652-3
Compact Disc - 978-0-307-98998-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 600 pages - 978-0-345-50499-9
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Bestseller Cronin’s bloated apocalyptic thriller, like many a trilogy’s middle book, falls short of the high standard set by its predecessor, 2010’s The Passage. The struggle for survival between humanity’s last hope, personified by Amy Harper Bellafonte, and vampire-like virals comes across as watered-down Stephen King, short on three-dimensional characters as well as genuine scares. The action shifts from the “present”—five years after the First Colony, a refuge, has fallen to the virals—to Year Zero, when the virus that caused the catastrophe was unleashed, but the value added by the flashbacks isn’t obvious. A prologue surveys the events of The Passage in biblical prose (“And a decree shall go forth from the highest offices that twelve criminals shall be chosen to share of the Zero’s blood, becoming demons also”), but fails to bring readers adequately up to speed. A dramatis personae at the back listing more than 80 names is scarcely more helpful. 15- to 20-city author tour. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media Group. (Oct.)
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