It’s pretty obvious that the whole world is getting sick of the vampire story. You know how it goes, girl meets vampire, vampire turns out to be good yet dangerous, girl and vampire fall in love, teen angst ensues. And even those of us who enjoyed the odd vamp-related novel before it became a tweenie thing (read: me!) are starting to get bored. So, with that in mind, it’s a good job that Justin Cronin’s latest novel has nothing to do with teen angst or vampire romances. In fact, you won’t even notice it’s got vampires in it until you’re already hooked.
The second book in The Passage trilogy The Twelve is set in a post-apocalyptic future where thanks to humanity’s desire to live forever we’ve managed to bring about the end of the world as we know it by creating monsters who only come out at night and feed off our blood, aka virals. The Twelve carries on the story of The Passage with old and new characters and I have to admit that having not read the first book I felt like I was missing a few things. Having said that The Passage is most definitely on to read list as Cronin’s story has left me hungry for more and dying to have my questions answered.
One of things which makes The Twelve so different from most other vampire novels is the amount of detail that’s gone into the species. It’s not simply a case of here are these vampires whose origins are very mysterious and they all look and act the same way. Cronin’s virals are a man-made creation which evolve in a similar way to other species with different variations and even a hierarchy. This allows ‘the enemy’ to develop a character of its own instead of the reader having to view them through the eyes of their victims, as so often can be the case with horror stories.
The book’s characters are spilt into two groups; those that were established in The Passage and those that are new. It was the new characters that really drew me in and hooked me on the their outcome. Cronin made me feel every hurt and loss with them and they were the reason I kept reading. While the other characters are well written there wasn’t quite enough background there for me to fully engage with them, which highlights the importance of reading the books in the right order.
There are so many more things that make The Twelve such a good read but it really is one of those stories that benefits from an unbiased audience so forget everything I’ve said. Forget that it’s technically a vampire story and just enjoy this post-apocalyptic story and the people that struggle in it for what it is. A vampire novel for people who hate vampire novels.