Justin Cronin’s ‘The Twelve’: Two Worlds and In Between


We’re a week out from the release of Justin Cronin’s The Twelve, the sequel to his break-out apocalyptic horror novel The Passage. I can’t wait. I have to admit that The Passage took a little while to grown on me, but once it did, it fully colonized my entire system like a virus. I was consumed by it.

In Cronin’s books, scattered colonies of humans struggle to survive in a nightmare world dominated by “Virals”, the vampiric victims of a military-created virus gone pandemic. They’re outnumbered by the pallid, hairless predators that lurk just outside of the light. These things, once human, live in massive colonies united in their thirst for blood and the need to transmit the infection. They’re barely more than animals.

Behind the raging, mindless thirst of the common virals are the Twelve: a dozen powerful vampires, the original carriers of the infection. Each controls his progeny through telepathy, unifying their undifferentiated thirst through a sprawling bloodine of fear and infection.

An outsider to both humanity and the Virals is Amy, a mysterious, ageless girl who is neither vampire nor human who may hold the key to saving what is left of the world.

One of the things that most intrigued me about The Passage was the nature of the virus. It exists, like Amy, in two worlds. It is both of this Earth and beyond it. The virus is initially harvested in a far corner of the world and refined by science, but in its transmission it attains a supernatural quality. The Twelve have psychic powers, and they’re connected to their “children” through the virus. It’s like being to read the mind of anyone with the same cold virus – it’s clearly miraculous.

In the virus one can see a concise explanation of what makes Cronin’s books so compelling: The author has taken the supernatural tropes of vampire fiction (the vampire and its thrall, the vulnerability to sunlight, the mesmeric powers) and melded them chimerically with the fearful science of pandemic disease and military experimentation. Thus, the Virals, and by extension Cronin’s novels, live just within the shadow of plausibility, lurking out of the darkness to snap and claw at our reason.

Look for The Passage on October 16, and catch Cronin live at one of these locations:

Tuesday, October 16 – NEW YORK, NY

6:00 pm
Talk & Signing
Barnes & Noble Tribeca
97 Warren St
New York, NY 10007

Wednesday, October 17 – BOSTON, MA
7:00 pm
Talk & Signing
Porter Square Books
Porter Square Shopping Center
25 White Street
Cambridge, MA 02140

Thursday, October 18 – PORTSMOUTH, NH
7:00 pm
Talk & Signing
142 Fleet St.
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Saturday, October 20 – PHILADELPHIA, PA
2:00 pm
Talk & Signing with R.L. Stein
Philadelphia Free Library
Montgomery Auditorium
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Wednesday, October 24 – CHICAGO, IL
6:00 pm
Talk & Signing
Harold Washington Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago, IL 60605

Thursday, October 25 – IOWA CITY, IA
7:00 pm
Talk & Signing
Prairie Lights Bookstore
15 S. Dubuque
Iowa City, IA 52240

Friday, October 26 – MINNEAPOLIS, MN
7:00 pm
Talk & Signing
Barnes & Noble
2100 North Snelling Ave
Roseville, MN 55113

Sunday, October 28 – AUSTIN, TX
Talk & Signing
Texas Book Festival
Austin, TX

Tuesday, October 30 – HOUSTON, TX
6:30 pm
Talk & Signing
Block Party w/ Murder by the Book, Brazos, and Under the Volcano
2421 Bissonnet Street
Houston, TX 77005

Friday, November 2 – DALLAS, TX
11:30 am
Lunch, Talk & Signing
Friends of the SMU Library
Mack Ballroom, Umphrey Lee Center, SMU Campus
3300 Dyer Street
Dallas, TX 75206

Saturday, November 3 – DENVER, CO
7:30 pm
Talk & Signing
Tattered Cover LoDo
1628 16th Street
Denver, CO 80202

Monday, November 5 – SEATTLE, WA
Talk & Signing
Elliott Bay Bookstore
1521 Tenth Ave.
Seattle, WA 98122

Wednesday, November 7 – SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Talk & Signing
Books Inc. (Opera Plaza)
601 Van Ness
San Francisco, CA 94102

Thursday, November 8 – SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Talk & Signing
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Saturday, November 10 – LOS ANGELES, CA
Talk & Signing
695 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91101

Sunday, November 11 – HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA
Talk & Signing
Barnes & Noble
7881 Edinger Avenue #110
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Monday, November 12 – SAN DIEGO, CA
Talk & Signing
Mysterious Galaxy
7051 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92111

Wednesday, November 14 – PORTLAND, OR
Talk & Signing
Powell’s Books
1005 West Burnside
Portland, OR 97209

Saturday, November 17-Sunday, November 18 – MIAMI, FL
Talk & Signing
Miami Book Fair
Miami, FL