The Twelve Justin Cronin Book Review

You know how sometimes it can feel like you are reading a book for pretty much forever because it’s a book that is SUPER long and outside of your usual genre of choice? That feeling totally happened to me while I was reading The Twelve by Justin Cronin, sequel to The Passage which I actually really enjoyed and read within a matter of days instead of months. Unfortunately, The Twelve did not quite compel or immediately hook me the same way that The Passage did. I was just not that into The Twelve.

The Twelve Justin Cronin Book Cover

Justin Cronin’s sequel opens just as the virus is getting off the ground. Instead of revisiting the characters from the end of The Passage we meet a whole new cast of characters. Most of the beginning of the book I was wondering what was going on with Amy, Peter and Alicia. The new characters are comprised of a war veteran, a teenage girl and her brother and a bus driver named Danny among others. These characters are the survivors after the virals have killed or infected most of the people around them, and so they are in desperate search of a safe haven and civilization. Eventually we do come back to the characters from The Passage, but The Twelve sort of takes a convoluted path to get back to Amy, Peter and Alicia, among others.

I was not at all attached to the new characters in the beginning of The Twelve. We get a brief amount of time with the characters and the chapters alternate between quite a large amount of people. I felt like I never got to intimately know Danny, the bus driver or April the teenage girl and what made them tick as characters. I did, however, enjoy the development once we got back to Peter and Alicia. Alicia is probably the most interesting character as she struggles with her humanity. She endures the worst possible thing for a person to go through and it changes her. It makes her tragic and vulnerable, yet her strength is still there. Even Amy gets to change quite a bit and the result is fantastic. She really comes into her own and it is definitely a game changer as far as the storyline goes.

I thought the world building in The Twelve  improved upon that of The Passage — I mean, it was consistent, but added to the richness of the horrifying world Cronin has created. We get to see the worst and the very best of humanity in Cronin’s viral-filled world. We have the contrast of two societies — one society that is run by civility and order and equality. The other society is in thrall to viral overlords. It’s quite an interesting contrast, especially when the two societies overlap. I also enjoyed seeing how the virals adapted because of their dwindling food supply. It was quite an interesting touch.

The Twelve starts off a bit slow, the first 200 pages took me months to get through, honestly. I never really felt compelled or a pull toward finishing the book. However, once the book starts it’s cresendo and we really get down to the action I was unable to set it down. I found myself engrossed and repulsed. There are some very disturbing, very violent scenes. If you don’t have the stomach for it, that’s fine but I just wanted to put out there that The Twelve  might make some people uncomfortable. Personally, I thought it was an interesting depiction of how brutal the world has turned in the wake of suck your blood instead of romancing you vampires taking over.

Personally, what prevented me from really loving The Twelve was all of the sexual violence. I know, I know grown up books have sexual violence. And I am not here to say yes, censor books. I just want to say that I thought it was kind of gratuitous. Like, it made me sick to my stomach and I skimmed through those parts because they honestly really bothered me.

Anyways, I did like the end of The Twelve and would have liked it to just resolve right there. However, there are threads left tangled, so it’s pretty obvious there’s going to be a third book.  The ending though, does resolve quite a bit and it would have been a nice logical place to end. Alas, I know I’ll pick up book three but I’m not exactly on edge for it or anything.

Disclosure: Received for review via Amazon Vine.

Other reviews of The Twelve by Justin Cronin:

The Book Smugglers – “Sometimes, expectations can be a bitch.

Coffee And A Book Chick – “I had this eerie and remote sense of detachment

Kimba The Caffeineated Reader  – “The characters in this trilogy have been superbly fleshed out.

Other books by Justin Cronin:

The Passage


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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I had very similar feelings about this book. I was so looking forward to it because I loved The Passage. The Twelve was a DNF for me. It just didn’t MOVE at all…at least the part I read. So disappointed.

  2. You know what’s funny? I read and really enjoyed the first book, but it wasn’t until the end that I realized I wasn’t reading a standalone! Which made me irrationally irritated, hah, because the book was already so freaking long. So I’ve been hesitant about picking this up, especially since there’s a THIRD book to follow.

    Anyway, I find this review really helpful. I think I’ll wait until the trilogy is complete before I think about picking this one up, especially since you mention a bunch of new characters. I would have to refresh my memory of the original characters as it is.

    • Wendy, I always irrationally feel that way when I notice a book isn’t a standalone when I thought it was. I’m like oh goodness can’t we just wrap this up or cut out some of the crap so it’s a complete story.

      It’s smart to wait until the trilogy is done because it really is a huge time investment.

  3. Cronin should give his unnecessary sexual violence to the Chemical Garden trilogy which needs it.

    I feel that way about standalones too. If GR doesn’t know about it when I read book one, and then I discover there’s another I’m almost always like UGH WHY.

    • I’m so glad we aren’t alone in this whole UGHHHH STUPID SECRET SERIES.

      Ha, I am kind of surprised that Chemical Garden doesn’t have more sexual violence, but honestly I don’t mind.

  4. I hate that feeling where you feel like you’ve been reading something for so long! The worst is when I keep picking up other things to read instead, which drags the slow book out even longer. Fail! I haven’t read anything by Cronin, but I doubt I’ll be picking this one up. I’ve got too many exciting books on my TBR to spend a lot of time on a slow one.

    • Yes! I mean, I won’t lie, I really like doorstoppers and long books. However, I don’t like when they drag on.

      Yeah dude, I mean, I liked The Passage, and I thought The Twelve was decent, but it’s not the best if you’re down for a fast paced read.