The first book in this series, The Passage (my previous review), has forced me to do something I haven’t done in a long time: commit to a trilogy. A proper, lengthy, complex trilogy. I can’t remember the last time a series got its hooks into me so well. Quite a few of my cannonball reviews over the years have covered off on the first of a series. Gideon the Ninth, The Hatching, The Mummy Bloggers… None of these compelled me to continue. But Cronin’s epic vampire epidemic series sucked me in.
In the first novel, we ultimately end up a Kerrville in Texas – a functioning settlement of humanity amongst the wasteland of America. Kerrville was created by the military and is a genuine attempt at creating a government and fair rule from the chaos of the end of the world. People have freedom and protection, and meaningfully contribute to society for the greater good of all. Sure, there is still a nasty underbelly in the settlement – but this too brings balance and keeps day-to-day life liveable. Everyone has a role to play and life continues to find a way to endure within the high walls and bright lights.
In ‘The Twelve’, we see how a nightmare version of Kerrville was created in Iowa. It’s as though a copy of the Kerrville settlement has been created in a horrific funhouse mirror. Instead of the Iowa settlement being created by the military, it’s created by humans infected with a mutated offshoot of the vampire virus. Rather than people working for the greater good of all, humanity is enslaved and abused by those in charge, barely surviving each day in concentration camp conditions. A horrific bureaucracy exists, and an uprising occurs in an attempt to topple the ‘red eyes’ in charge. Insurrectionists resort to suicide bombings. It is chaotic.
The novel shows how this nightmare scenario came to be by returning to the first days of the viral outbreak. Names familiar to readers of the first novel are expanded upon, with excellent characterisation.
It is revealed that this dystopian settlement in Iowa has one ultimate goal: to create a sanctuary for ‘The Twelve’, the original twelve vampires infected with the virus who laid waste to the continent. Naturally-occurring food is running out for their species, so the twisted minds behind the Iowa settlement are attempting to usher in a new age of humanity – where we are bred and farmed to sustain the vampire race.
Similarly to ‘The Passage’, this novel spans 100 years and covers great distances. The same characters we learned to love in ‘The Passage’ are on the stage as focus shifts between Texas and Iowa, with worthwhile additions to the cast. Everything great about ‘The Passage’ is continued in ‘The Twelve’. I was gripped throughout and could not wait to tear into Book 3…
Overall, 5 plastic eggs out of 5.