This is the follow up, and second book of Justin Cronin’s trilogy which began with The Passage. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first one, although I thought aspects of it were interesting. I downloaded the follow up on audio and once I got to the 22+ hours of it, I quickly found myself spellbound..
The Twelve fully fleshes out the post-apocalyptic world that was sketched in The Passage. It goes back 93 years to the beginning of the virus, and follows the story of a group of survivors, two of whom are ancestors of Alicia Donadio, who figures prominently in this book and the last. The reader has a much clearer idea of the downfall of humanity and how the pockets of humanity survived the virals.
Skipping back to the future, some of those characters are still alive, the ones who have exploited the restorative nature of how the virus has manifested itself in Lawrence Gray, an orderly at the facility that housed Zero and the Twelve. These humans, called red-eyes, have then gone on the enslave the pockets of humanity left in Iowa, employing human collaborators. It is a grim view of the future, and the only hope is a radical terrorist group.
The characters from the previous novel all appear again, after a space of five years. Amy remains in the body of a fourteen-year-old girl, although she is transformed as the novel progresses. Peter has become a veteran of the Expedition, as has Alicia, transformed into a killing machine by the virus and a transfusion of Amy’s blood. Sarah, who was a part of the attack on Roswell that was the culmination of the last novel, is barely surviving in Iowa, and eventually becomes part of the insurgency there.
After the death of Babcock at the end of the last novel, the Expeditionary have been searching for the Twelve to no avail, as each of their deaths appears to end the lives of any virals they created. But with no luck, they want to call off the search, much to Peter’s disgust.
Although the characters all head off in different directions, they find their way back to each other, and in fact to the remains of the Twelve. But Zero has a plan, not only to move the Twelve to a safe location, but to replenish the loss of Babcock.
This is a real nail-biter, and the human story is much more involved. You will engage more with the characters and a much more clearly realised world. I am now hanging on the edge of my seat for the final installment.