Tonawanda News


November 7, 2012

BOOK NOOK: Number of characters unwieldy, but 'Twelve' a fun read

Tonawanda News — Editor’s note: “The Twelve” is the second in a trilogy of books by Justin Cronin. If you haven’t read the first book, “The Passage,” please note, some spoilers lie ahead.

Perhaps my biggest complaint about Justin Cronin’s followup to his 2010 bestseller “The Passage” is that perhaps the publisher should have put the list of characters in the front of the book, not on the last page.

Yeah, I didn’t discover that oh-so-valuable resource until I literally finished the last sentence in “The Twelve,” part two in Cronin’s supernatural, post-apocalyptic zombie/vampire saga. 

The story, like its predecessor, bounces back and forth between time frames that span roughly 100 years — heck, there are even some small references to 1,000 years in the future at times. Each time frame — there are three — and location has its own set of characters, many of whom are held over from the first book. Most are entirely new.

I count more than 80 individually named characters. That’s a lot to keep track of, especially when you have an April, an Alicia and an Amy — too many “A” names! — but it’s worth it.

Ultimately my inability to keep track of the number of characters in this story isn’t all that important. (It might be more a symptom of the fact that I would go long stretches of time without reading the book.)

What matters is the story.

Mostly set about 100 years in our future, millions of grotesque, human blood-drinking creatures have taken over the United States, leaving only small clusters of humans struggling to survive in a harsh world. The vampires, or virals as they’re called in the story, are the result of a science experiment gone wrong in the attempt to create 12 superhuman-like killing machines for the military. 

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