Happy Christmas All!
I hope everyone reading this has a relaxing day with family and friends, filled with lots of laughs and lots of food (with a dash or two of something alcoholic to set things off nicely too). Today I’m sharing some thoughts on the latest book I recently finished, The Twelve by Justin Cronin, and a little end of year check in too!
If you’ve been following along here on the blog and also on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve spent the past year in New York City, and sadly that time is coming to an end. I honestly feel like I blinked and the year flew by, and now I’m all packed up and ready for the off tomorrow, when I fly back to Ireland! Seriously, packing is stressful lads…who knew you could accumulate so much s**t without realising. But it has definitely been a great excuse to throw some stuff out that needed to go, because I for sure and certain am not paying extra for going over the baggage allowance for stuff I barely use or wear!
It will certainly be weird not being at home for Christmas Day, as it will be the first one I’ve missed in 27 years. But look, I ended up getting a really cheap flight and that’s a win in and of itself, and I’ll be just in time for the left over sandwiches! I’m looking forward to getting home to see family and catch up with my friends, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad to leave New York. My love for this amazing city is no secret at this stage, and I know once all the festive cheer wears off and we fall into January, I’ll be wishing I could come back. Visas are always tricky as we all know, so I don’t know what the future holds just yet, but that’s not the worst thing! If there are two things I have learned this past year, it’s that anything is possible, and moping and moaning does nothing but take you feel worse about a situation. So, I plan to just chill out and enjoy the rest of the holiday season and come up with a plan in January!
I’m of course planning to squeeze more reading in! I find it can be hard to unwind sometimes (especially in a place like New York where you are constantly on the go), but a good book is a great tool for helping with that. Some of you may know that I have been reading The Twelve, the second book in the Passage Trilogy by Justin Cronin. I read the first book earlier this year and LOVED it (you can find some thoughts on that one here). It was an enthralling read, combining an updated take on vampire lore with a post-apocalyptic setting.
In the first book, humanity is brought to the brink of extinction after a secret government organisation tests an ancient virus on twelve death row prisoners, who are transformed into blood thirsty monsters. They also test the virus on Amy, a 6-year-old orphan, who shares some of the same characteristics of the others, but without their monstrous appearance and blood thirst. The Twelve escape, and those they don’t eat are taken up and become virals themselves. Almost a century later, we meet a small group of survivors who spend their days trying to stay alive and hoping for a miracle. They randomly encounter Amy (who has barely aged in almost a century), which sets in motion a series of events that eventually leads them to the realisation that they must destroy the Twelve if they hope to reclaim the world.
I was a little surprised by The Twelve. I expected that the second book would follow the quest of Amy and the others as they travelled in search of the Twelve in an effort to wipe them out. Instead, a large portion of the book takes place in a new area known as the Homeland, in which a group who worship the Twelve and prepare for their eventual arrival, uses the blood of a mysterious individual known as the “Source” to grant them everlasting life, like the Twelve but without their monstrous appearance.
In fact, the Twelve don’t really appear until a climactic battle towards the end of the novel! It’s a strange way to take a follow up novel, when the first book (and the title of this second book to TBH) seemed to clearly indicate that they would be a big feature. That’s not to say it’s a bad book, far from it! It’s once again written exceptionally well, and Justin Cronin has a gift for describing the horror of a post-apocalyptic world to the point that you would almost believe he lived in one! He also frames some aspects of the book in an interesting way, for instance, a prologue cleverly written in the style of a bible that gives a quick recap of the first book and where each character is as we lead into this sequel.
I do think though the book suffers a little from second book syndrome. Often I find that the second book in a trilogy has a tough job because it has to act as the bridge between the fresh introduction and the exciting conclusion. The Twelve is by no means a bad book and I did like it, but with a strange structure and focus, it definitely isn’t as absorbing as the first in the series. There are some story points that are oddly removed. For example, two characters who were prominent in the first book and appeared to have more to their story when the first book ended are unceremoniously killed off in the time jump between first and second books. Of course, an author will often have to excise things to streamline the story, but it feels like something has been dumped and stepped around in removing them so nonchalantly. Having said that, their is still a third book in the series for me to read yet, so maybe they will reappear in that one, who knows?
On another note, the series has been adapted by FOX and is set to premier in January. It’s on the top of my most anticipated shows of next year, and they have made some changes by the looks of the trailers that I am intrigued about! I’ll share my thoughts about that too when it airs.
For now, I am heading to bed to get some shut eye before traveling tomorrow. Have a great day everyone, enjoy your dinner and the next time I write on here, it will be from Ireland!