I believe there was a collective sigh of relief when Justin Cronin came out with The Passage a few years back–a sigh of relief from all of the vampire fans that were sick of their vampires being cast as sparkly romantics when all we really wanted from vampires was a bit of sadism and terror. Right?
Cronin’s “vampires,” or “virals,” are amazingly wretched–monsters really, in both pre-vampire and vampire form. A quick run-down: the Army makes a huge, huge mistake and injects twelve convicts with a vampire virus. Terror, apocalypse, etc.
The Twelve, the second in the trilogy, continues with a jerking epic story as the people left in the world try to reclaim it from the hives of virals that populate the U.S. and ultimately, the Twelve, the original twelve convicts. Told from multiple perspectives and from multiple points in time, the story draws us in to that final end scene–the show-down with the Twelve.
While I really enjoyed The Passage, and did enjoy this one–reading it in just a few days–well, I didn’t love it in the same way. Some of the most endearing plotlines in The Passage, those scenes of home in the midst of an apocalypse, are few and far in-between. When they are there, they’re golden (I’m looking at you devastating Home Depot scene), but they weren’t there enough for me.
It was a much more action-based book, of course, and it worked well keeping a tight knot of suspense throughout the book. What didn’t work to keep that suspense going was the multiple jumps through time and place which, while interesting, were a lot to keep track of while reading, making it disorienting for the reader.
I don’t give review scores to the books I feature on here, but file this one under “wouldn’t read again, but would certainly recommend to somebody who is a fan of horror and can keep their shit together while reading.” Does that work as a grade average?
Now, I was going to pair this with a strong up-in-your-face beer (and really I am reading loads of “beer” books lately and, no, I can’t give you an exact definition of what defines a beer or wine book, but it’s there), but the book is almost 600 pages long and you don’t want to be sipping something too strong during that time. How about something dark with some edge?
Firestone Walker’s Velvet Merlin lived right up to that challenge and it’s one of the beers I’m loving right now, vamps or no vamps. It’s an oatmeal stout from California with a really rich taste and clean finish. You’ll get some chocolate and coffee, as well as some of the Guiness style creaminess. It’s definitely a beer you can just sit and drink with a hefty book in your hands.
What’s your favorite dark beers? Could you define what makes a beer vs. wine book?
And, if you’ve read The Twelve, what would you pair with it?