Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

Cronin’s sequel to The Passage is quite similar to his first horror novel. Structurally, it marches along in nearly identical footsteps, with an initial section set in the falling days of mankind, then a longer back half that deals with events in the post-apocalyptic, vampire infested landscape of the contentinal United States, roughly eighty to one hundred years after the cataclysm. Many of the same characters return, and they do largely similar things. So if you liked the first one, you’ll likely like this one.

Like The Passage, I find the novel to be a mixed bag. Cronin’s language vacillates between beautiful, attempted beautiful, and downright sloppy and rushed. The plotting is equally uneven. (I’m still not sure why several implausible things that were useful to resolving conflicts occurred.) The character development efforts have a whiff of someone giving it the old Rice college-try, at least most of the time. Some characters (like Tifty and Greer) get enough backstory and development to make them interesting. Some get so brief a caricature that they are just silly (insane Lila and the officious Horace) despite getting fair amounts of screen time. Others are such brief sketches that I can’t keep them straight, and find that I just plain don’t care when they are fighting for their lives.

I’ll admit that I just don’t understand much of what occurs in the mystical transformations of a couple of the novel’s female characters either. They undergo profound, manga-level metamorphosis at points and become near god-head type figures. I just don’t understand why, how, or what they become.

So… Some good zomb—errr, vampire—killin’. Some decent apocalypse. Some fairly good action sequences in the Mad Max post-apocalpyse landscapes, and a bunch of characters I end basically won’t remember in a month. Fun, but not great, and occasionally not even that good.

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