“You decided to re-engineer an ancient virus that would transform a dozen death-row inmates into indestructible monsters who live on blood..?” asks the Chief of Special Weapons disbelievingly in The Twelve, Justin Cronin’s sequel to The Passage. Answer: Yeah, they did.
If you’re unfamiliar with The Passage, allow me to enlighten you. It begins with a Nobel-Prize winning scientist finding a virus in the depths of a foreign rainforest. With the help of the American government, he then uses this virus on 12 death-row inmates in an attempt to create ‘super soldiers’. In a twist of fate, not all goes to plan and we are taken into a world of destruction when these ‘virals’ or ‘vampires’ take over North America, “spreading in every direction, a 12 fingered hand”.
This is nothing at all like the sweet Edward and Bella interpretation of the vampire myth. Think huge beastly creatures with mouths full of razor sharp teeth and an inhumane and uncontrollable lust for blood.
Before I go any further though, I think I need to put this in perspective. I’ve never been one for a post-apocalyptic novel that follows bloodthirsty ‘vampires’ and naive young protagonists but The Passage and The Twelve had me hooked from the first pages. The way these books have been written makes one seriously consider the possibilities of an Amazonian virus causing havoc on a carefree and selfishly unaware world.
The stories of our favourites from the first book are continued: Amy, Lish and, of course, Zero, the first viral. We follow their struggles as they try once again to build a new civilisation after establishing the Texan Expeditionary force and all of the trials that come with a world still reeling from unimaginable destruction.
But The Twelve starts by going back to the first days of the ‘end of the world’ where we meet a bunch of new characters :
Lila, a young expectant mother initially in so much shock she completely repels the idea that the world is in ruins and death is running rampant.
April, a teenage girl who fights tooth and nail to protect her younger brother whilst navigating a path to freedom.
And Kittridge, known as the ‘Last Stand in Denver’. A man that was forced to leave his stronghold and face the creatures of the night.
Without giving too much away and taking from you the excitement that is reading Cronin’s novels, I can assure you, as a lover of The Passage, you won’t be disappointed by The Twelve. Like its predecessor, this book is written from so many believable perspectives with chapters that have such a flow of diversity, one can’t help but be anxious and enthralled, at the same time, to turn each and every page, leaving you on tenterhooks until the very last sentence.
Number three in this trilogy is no doubt going to be great, (no pressure, Justin).
Review by Eboni Robson