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The Twelve (Book Two of The Passage Trilogy): A Novel Paperback – January 19, 2016
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Man vs. machine, humans vs. aliens, paranormal activities – discover the best of science fiction with these collectible books. Learn More.
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An Exclusive Essay by Author 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
From the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
The book is great in that it shows how the characters have grown, gone are the days when they were just kids in California. Their adventures have hardened them into warriors. Maybe that is why this book isn't as hauntingly scary as the first, the characters themselves just are scared. Theyre prepared.
The shortcomings of the book can be overlooked, you'll read about two hundred pages of a story line that has no effect on the main plot and it almost feels as if its just a filler for the book to make it longer than 300 pages. Considering this book is almost 200 pages less then the first. Hopefully the third will offer an explanation. That being said, there are also some unexplained instances in the book yet again. Characters knowing who they are, looking them in the eye is only used one, and the classic line is never even mention, sadly... "vampires say ahh"
Like the author’s first book in this series, The Passage, I loved this book. But unlike The Passage, which I rated five stars, I’m giving this a four star. I felt it just misses for a few reasons. Several times at the start of a new section of the book, I had trouble understanding where it was taking place and what was the timeframe. He moves back and forth from present to the past, which is fine, but it was disorienting to try and figure out where in the timeline I was reading. I had a little trouble understanding some of the characters and whether they had been in earlier scenes. A few times after reading several hundred pages, the plot would then reference a character who may have been in earlier scenes, but I was often unsure. I felt this created some confusion.
The few critical issues won’t prevent me from reading the final book in the series. I’m happily hooked on this series.
I should note I'm not generally a fan of vampire stories - the last time I enjoyed one was Anne Rice's "Interview with a Vampire" when I was in high school...but by the time I'd read a few pages into Cronin's trilogy and finally realized what it was about, I was already hooked and couldn't put it down.
The reason I think this trilogy appeals to me so much is that Cronin's lyrical writing style still comes through. It's neither obtuse nor exaggerated - not a word is wasted. His characters are fully fleshed out - it's as if you know each one of them. They're real people, with faults and flaws - even the so-called heroes aren't perfect. The women are especially powerful, which is fairly unusual and great to see.
This is a fun, relatively easy (albeit long) read that compels you to turn the pages as quickly as possible, to see what happens next. Whenever I had to stop reading (to eat, sleep, work), I couldn't stop thinking about it. The length can be daunting (though I'll admit, I tend to enjoy longer reads - as long as they're well-written), but this one is well worth the time spent. I've seen the trilogy compared to Stephen King's "The Stand" (which I also enjoyed) and would agree there are plenty of similarities...though this one feels more hopeful, more positive, to me.
Admittedly, there are myriad strands of the story stitched together throughout the book, so if my attention wandered, I sometimes struggled to keep the storyline or search my memory for certain characters. But in time, it all came together (like a great novel should, in my opinion) and I was left wanting more. I can't wait for the third to be released in 2014!