Readers of the 2010 smash hit The Passage have waited more than two long years for the return of Peter, Alicia, Amy and the rest of Justin Cronin's memorable heroes, who have dedicated themselves to ridding the world of the "flyers"—vampires created by a military-engineered virus that has decimated the world's population.

Readers of The Twelve should be warned—that long-awaited update doesn't come right away. Instead, after a welcome refresher on the events of The Passage, delivered in a Biblical tone, we turn the page on a story set right at the time the virus struck, years prior to where The Passage left off. It is a testament to Cronin's talent that, after some initial impatience, the reader is actually sorry to leave Lila (a peripheral character from book one) and her companions and pick up Peter's story, which finds him, Amy and Alicia frustrated in their pursuit of the 12 original vampires. That is not the only leap readers must make in The Twelve, which, like its predecessor, contains myriad storylines that are intricate enough to challenge even the most dedicated of fans, and continues to develop the series' complicated mythology.

Still, the pleasure in a book like this one is the pleasure of seeing how all those storylines eventually fit together, and here Cronin does not disappoint. This is a story full of surprises and subterfuge. The action-packed finale of The Twelve is more satisfying than The Passage's cliff-hanger ending, although there are plenty of loose threads to keep readers eager for book three . . . coming to bookshelves near you in 2014. 

 

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