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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

Meh.

The Twelve - Justin Cronin

Dear Justin:

 

We get the religious reference. Really, we do. But thanks for providing a summation of The Passage in a handy Biblical format at the beginning of The Twelve. I only partially appreciated it, however, as it reminded me of all the things I found annoying, particularly the ending. But, hey, great effort–maybe consider a little more subtlety in the next tome?

 

I have to say, rewinding and restarting the apocalypse was absolute genius. Serious genius. You must have been reading the same parts about the history of marketing that I’ve been reading in Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, because you did exactly what the food manufacturers do: take a staple (say, Cherrios), imbue it with a different flavor (Chocolate, Banana-Nut, etc), change the packaging and voila! New product with a guaranteed audience that gives the impression of innovation. Starting back at the beginning of the vampires’ release and giving us new perspectives as the devastation unfolds was sheer brilliance. What a way to recycle much of an earlier story without driving it someplace new. Clever! If only King had done that with The Stand–I’m going to write him right now and suggest it.

 

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The trouble is that despite being a clever writing concept, I think it could have benefited from focus on character creation, since we knew where much of the plot was going (especially as helpfully reminded by the introduction). Perhaps fewer narrators and some greater character innovation would have build interest. Reporting the experiences of a suspiciously rejuvenated convict/test subject, to the ill federal suit overseeing the project, to a pregnant pediatrician coping through nervous breakdown, to a mentally disabled bus driver, to a wounded veteran all becomes kind of a jumble. By the time we reached The Magic Bus tour, I didn’t much care anymore, especially when it was going to be clear I had a whole new set of character to learn. Plus, they were all rather boring. I felt like I was being told a Just So story, my absolute least favorite type of storytelling, particularly as it includes heavy moralizing.

 

Plus–ranty bit–just like King in The Stand, Cronin does a huge disservice to the female viewpoint. It is painstakingly clear that the value of the female viewpoint is because of her reproductive capabilities. Go Team Uterus! Other misogyny includes a rape scene ahead. You probably know my feelings on that by now, but if confused, check the post.

 

The unoriginality coupled with the shifting results in an emotional distance that eventually led me to abandoning the book, despite being a third into it. I just didn’t care enough about the mystery of the convict to overcome my aversion to Christian metaphors, and decided returning to the library was better than paying any more fines to those most gracious, beautiful, forgiving people known as Librarians. A DNF from me a sad statement of interest level, given that I was recently reminded that I made it through Siege. Of course, Frater is considerably less in love with her writing than Cronin is. Do yourself a favor–if you weren’t completely in love with The Passage, take a pass on this one.