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The Twelve (Passage) Hardcover – October 16, 2012

1,988 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Passage Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Exclusive Essay by Author Justin Cronin

Justin Cronin

Readers often ask where I get my ideas. The better question would be: Where don’t I?

Many people know that The Passage was born from a challenge laid down by my eight-year-old daughter to write the story of “a girl who saves the world.” This wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear—it seemed a trifle ambitious—but a dare is a dare. For the next three months she joined me on my daily jog, following along on her bicycle, while the two of us hashed out the plot. As the weeks passed, I realized we were onto something much better than the book I was supposed to be writing. I put that book aside, wrote the first chapter of The Passage, and never looked back.

So don’t ever think you shouldn’t listen to your kids.

But my daughter’s challenge wasn’t the only inspiration. When I write a novel, my goal is to put absolutely everything I have into its pages, right down to the interesting thing that happened yesterday. I know I’m done when my mind feels as empty as a leaky bucket. So many influences, real and imagined, went into The Passage that I couldn’t list them if I tried. But one memory that stands out is the night my family and I tried to flee Houston in advance of hurricane Rita. Apparently, about a million other people had the same idea. After five hours on the road, we’d made it all of sixty miles. The highways were clogged with cars that had long since run out of gas; every minimart and gas station had been picked clean. I jumped the median and made it home in a little under an hour, my gas gauge floating just above ‘E’.

Rita missed Houston, slamming into a less-inhabited section of Texas and Louisiana coastline. But the experience of being in a large urban evacuation, with its feeling of barely-bottled panic, was one I’ll never forget, and is everywhere in the pages of The Passage.

So where did The Twelve come from?

Again, many places. But if I had to pick one source, it would be the strong women in my life. No bones about it: Gentlemen, if you doubt for a second that women are tougher than we are, go watch one have a baby. So here you have Alicia, the woman warrior with her blades and crossbow; here you have Amy, the spiritual leader and visionary; here you have one of my favorite new characters, Lore DeVeer, whose mechanical savvy is matched only by her unbridled sensuality; here you have a fourth woman (sorry, can’t tell you who) whose maternal strength is as powerful as any great spectacle of nature. As I wrote The Twelve, I came to understand that these powerful characters were the backbone of the tale. Even more, they are a tribute to all the amazing women I am privileged to know, befriend, and in one very lucky instance, marry.

Hope you enjoy The Twelve. All eyes.


“[A] literary superthriller.”—The New York Times Book Review
“An undeniable and compelling epic . . . a complex narrative of flight and forgiveness, of great suffering and staggering loss, of terrible betrayals and incredible hope.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The Twelve is even better than The Passage.”—The Plain Dealer
“A compulsive read.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Gripping . . . Cronin [introduces] eerie new elements to his masterful mythology. . . . Enthralling, emotional and entertaining.”—The San Diego Union-Tribune
“Fine storytelling.”—Associated Press
“Cronin is one of those rare authors who works on two different levels, blending elegantly crafted literary fiction with cliff-hanging thrills.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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Product Details

  • Series: Passage (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (October 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780345504982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345504982
  • ASIN: 0345504984
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,988 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Born in New England, Justin Cronin is the author of Mary and O'Neil, which won the Pen/Hemingway Award and the Stephen Crane Prize, and The Summer Guest. Having earned his MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop, Cronin is now a professor of English at Rice University and lives with his family in Houston, Texas.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

395 of 459 people found the following review helpful By "switterbug" Betsey Van Horn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
THE TWELVE, which is the second book of Cronin's towering trilogy, can be read as a complete book, whereas the first book stopped abruptly, like a gasp. However, I urge you to read THE PASSAGE first, because the epic as a whole is a finely calibrated accretion of history, plot and character. The Twelve refers to the twelve "parent" or original virals, the death-row-inmate subjects-turned-virals from "Project Noah," who must be liquidated in order to save the world. The thrust of this book is the hunt of the twelve by Amy, Alicia, Peter, and company.

"All eyes." Two words commonly spoken by the First Colony Watchers, starting in Book one--survivors of the end of the world as we know it. I shiver when I read it now, this sober siren call of fellowship to signal strength and vision, to defeat the virals. It carries an additional, deep and tacit message now--that I honor you, comrade (lover, brother, father, mother, friend, sister, soldier, daughter)--go bravely and stay safe. And keep your eyes forward, against the last remaining light of the day.

Cronin's weighty trilogy, a hybrid of mainstream and literary fiction, isn't just a story about these photophobic vampiric virals, identified variously as dracs, smokes, flyers, jumps, and glowsticks. Rather, it is a portrait of humanity in extremis. Virals, caused by a military experiment gone awry, are a malignant, violent force of annihilation. But what reserves of strength keep us fighting? How do people live in a post-apocalyptic world? Is another end coming? Or a beginning? Is the world even worth saving? THE TWELVE, like THE PASSAGE, has as much anthropology, eschatology, psychology, and philosophy, as it does gore, battle and horror.
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73 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Duran A. Valdez on November 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked this book, but it was hard to love it.

For starters, the characterization is pretty weak. Major characters like Peter don't appear until late into the book, and even then they have nothing to do until the story's climax. Amy seems to wander in and out of the book and almost all the major changes that happen to her are physical--other than numerous chapters devoted to her remembering Wolfgast lovingly and some vague references to her maturing there's not a lot that is made clear about her internal state of mind. Besides this, there are numerous characters added to the story that just don't get enough page time to really flesh them out--Tifty Lamont, I'm looking at you. Possibly the best developed characters are Guilder, Sarah, and Lila--however, even they needed more time and attention. Lila, who is wonderfully fleshed out as a character who cannot cope with reality, has a huge change in character in the final chapters of the book. This transformation never felt earned or believable--it was as though Cronin needed to tie up some loose ends and having her instantly come back to sanity was way too pat on his part.

Secondly, the plot is convoluted and lacks focus. The Passage had the characters joined together on a quest to travel eastward. That's simple, but rewarding enough. The Twelve has the characters scattered about, with no clear mission. And again the novel begins with Cronin deciding to the story of year zero, but from new perspectives. The problem with this decision is that a lot the characters he introduces have no real bearing on the rest of the novel. Characters like Wolfgast were necessary in the last book since their POV not only showed humanity's collapse, but because his relationship to Amy defines her as a person throughout that book in the second.
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful By S. Coldsmith on November 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In Stephen King's "The Stand", we start with a rampaging and lethal flu virus -- a worthy set-up for what we think is going to be a classic science fiction tale -- and end up with a conflict more suited to horror. After the flu has killed off 99 in a 100, the survivors begin to hear voices or they sense a strange beckoning in the air or they feel the presence of Satan -- whatever you want to call it -- and they end up in an epic battle of good vs. evil. The original virus is all but forgotten. King gets away with this transition because despite the interjection of supernatural forces, the reader never has the sense that just anything can happen. King rightly understands that stories where anything can happen are inherently dull. And so Satan's minions are limited in their powers. And that countervailing Force for Good in "The Stand" -- be it God or some generic higher power -- spends all of the plot just sitting back and drinking a cold one.

The problem with The Twelve and The Passage is that there is little sense of a limiting frame of any kind. Take, for instance, the virus itself. It's a mercurial little bug that turns some people into immortal but mindless cannibals, some other people into telepathic super-cannibals, another person into a Jesus figure who goes conveniently dormant for 100 years so the rest of the plot can unfold, and turns yet another person into a super-soldier. You'd think that this super-soldier, if there was any consistency to the virus at all, would at least get the same 100 years of stasis that Amy got. But, no. Suddenly, only five years after infection, this soldier discovers that she is on the verge of becoming a mindless cannibal, too. Or not. Do you think that's enough mutability for one virus? Too bad!
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