At the end of The Passage, the great viral plague had left a small group of survivors clinging to life amidst a world transformed into a nightmare. In the second volume of this epic trilogy, this same group of survivors, led by the mysterious, charismatic Amy, go on the attack, leading an insurrection against the virals: the first offensives of the Second Viral War.
To do this, they must infiltrate a dozen hives, each presided over by one of the original Twelve. Their secret weapon: Alicia, transformed at the end of book one into a half human, half viral—but whose side, in the end, is she really on?
I finished The Passage and immediately moved on to The Twelve, which definitely helped! I still found the initial jump confusing, especially with the dramatic change in circumstance for some of our main core of characters.
As the novel progressed I started to to worry, the group of characters I had grown to love so much were scattered and broken and I knew this wasn’t going to be a redempting, reuniting tale. If I had one criticism of this book it would be that there are no main characters, but in some ways that is also the best thing about this book. We start to see development of the characters we met so briefly in The Passage. I loved seeing the development of characters like Grey and Lila, we met them so briefly and Cronin jumps back and masterfully picks them back up again.
I found parts of this book quite a struggle, The Passage begins before day zero and then skips to 90 years later but The Twelve starts to fill in. It tells us about the days after day zero for cities of America. And it is bleak. Which no one will find surprising, I think it contributed massively to my enjoyment of the overall story arc but the sheer misery of it was a struggle. A worthwhile struggle.
You can definitely tell this is a building book, it builds to the final confrontation, it builds the characters it follows and it builds to the next book. The climax, though satisfying, left me wanting. Hopefully The City of Mirrors will live up to this complex, emotional epic that Justin Cronin has given us.