Following on from The Passage, this is the second book in Justin Cronin’s epic trilogy. It starts nearer to Year Zero, when the human population is decimated by the failed-science-experiment-creatures-that-turn-into-vampires-but-I’m-not-sure-if-we-are-really-supposed-to-call-them-that.
We are reacquainted with familiar characters, and get very quickly introduced to a whole bunch more. Honestly, it’s a bit hard to keep up at the beginning but there’s no need to stress too much – mostly they just seem to be there to give us some knowledge about the ancestry of those we came to know and love in Part 1.
However there are some more enduring histories to be explored, and we are taken to what seems like the very edge of sanity in learning about the inner worlds of people who are no longer human (or are they?) and don’t seem to know what’s happening to them.
The bulk of The Twelve centres around what is possibly the most miserable human experience imaginable in some sort of concentration camp. Just as you start wondering about how anyone could possibly survive in this theater of deprivation, illness and slavery, up rises an insurgency that threatens the whole operation. Who are the mysterious heads of this society; why are they keeping human slaves; and are they strong enough to maintain their rule?
I enjoyed the continuation of the story and the author’s ability to construct a whole world for his characters to inhabit. The writing wasn’t as enjoyable for me as the first book though; there was way too much use of simile and metaphor – at times it really took away from the story rather than adding to it. Anyway, not one to be a quitter, I will continue on to the final part of the trilogy (although I might just take a bit of a break to fit in some non-fiction first, just to keep me going).