The Twelve, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


The eagerly anticipated sequel to the global bestseller The Passage, soon to be an epic drama on Fox from writer Elizabeth Heldens and executive producer Ridley Scott.THE TWELVEDeath-row prisoners with nightmare pasts and no future.THE TWELVEUntil they were selected for a secret experiment.THE TWELVETo create something more than human.THE TWELVENow they are the future and humanity's worst nightmare has begun.THE TWELVEThe epic sequel toTHE PASSAGE


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I've never read a book of this genre before and I expected to hate it. I was really surprised, good writing, good story and a lot of suspense. Maybe I should get out of my comfort zone more often

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I read these in the wrong order not realising they were part of a trilogy. The copy of The Twelve I picked up in my public library gave no indication this was the second part of a story that had started with The Passage, simply that they were by the same order. I was a bout a third of the way through The Twelve before I discovered the wider narrative scope. This undoubtedly changed my reading of that novel and once I had completed it I hastily returned to The Passage to fill in the earlier parts of the story. Perhaps this is intentional to gain readership because The Twelve reads just as well as a standalone novel, The Passage a little less so, and reading out of order doesn't harm the story though it does influence it.I preferred The Twelve as a tighter, more engaging story with less exposition than is required in The Passage. The need to add more background gives The Passage moments of inertia. The Twelve works as a standalone novel because it compresses the events of The Passage into a preamble imagined as a quasi-religious text written and found of the events. That provides enough context to launch into the events of The Twelve. Admittedly without having read The Passage there were places in The Twelve that were more mysterious or understood differently but this didn't detract in fact gave me more pleasure filling in the gaps with my own imagination.I often enjoy the central sections of a trilogy most. They are unencumbered with the pull of beginnings and endings, requiring less explanatory text then the first and less concerned with the finality of the third. Themes can open, darken and be explored. The Twelve does this through a time shifted narrative that retreads some of the time covered in the Passage but from different perspectives.We go back to Year Zero again to be told the stories of survivors and government agents. At the end of The Passage the travellers from the First Colony in California encounter and expeditionary force from a Texan colony. In the Twelve we learn more about how this community was founded and how they have survived and organised themselves: if the Colony was a guild based feudalism this is more 19th century republicanism. We also find out the stories of another set of survivors, including government agents, and their journey of survival and city building. This it is a more totalitarian affair that suggests at the social engineering of Brave New World or The Handmaid's Tale as well as hinting at the labour/death camps, ghettos and eugenics of the mid-20th century. Each community encountered in the novels explores a different social construct and response to threat. Here most obviously there is the idea that humanity is not united against a common threat from the virals, but also still at war with itself and what a 'good world' looks like.As well as a different take on survival we have a different take on The Twelve, the original test subjects who lead the virals as part of a hive mind. The Passage was dominanted by the psychology of Test Subject 1, Giles Babcock. Here, the other members of The Twelve feature more prominently. Most of all we enter the mind of Anthony Carter, test subject number 12 and always a little different from the other criminals, partly because it is not clear that he is guilty of the crime he was convicted for. His story was partly told in The Passage and is re-visited in detail here in many re-tellings. We know the abuse and murder at the heart of Babcock and now we experience the pain and loss that is Carter's psychological prison.At the end of The Passage the survivor's of First Colony have split into two groups. Finally the novel returns to their story, although for me this was the first time I had encountered them, and first hints at and then reveals what has happened to them in the intervening 5 years. Following on from The Passage this may seem a long wait to be reunited with these characters but it makes sense to me that their view of the world was incomplete. It made it more interesting for me to tell an alternative history of events after the virus before connecting them together, rather than telling a story from the same point of view. As those from the Colony who have survived reunite something is changing again that brings more danger, another expedition, another battle not just between humans and virals this time but also between competing visions of survival.The third part of the trilogy, The City of Mirrors, is due in October 2015. It's not going to be an easy task for Justin Cronin to please all of his fans and tell a memorable and complete story that also weaves together satisfactorily narrative arcs than span the entire trilogy.

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