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Bestseller Cronin's bloated apocalyptic thriller, like many a trilogy's middle book, falls short of the high standard set by its predecessor, 2010's The Passage. The struggle for survival between humanity's last hope, personified by Amy Harper Bellafonte, and vampire-like virals comes across as watered-down Stephen King, short on three-dimensional characters as well as genuine scares. The action shifts from the "present"-five years after the First Colony, a refuge, has fallen to the virals-to Year Zero, when the virus that caused the catastrophe was unleashed, but the value added by the flashbacks isn't obvious. A prologue surveys the events of The Passage in biblical prose ("And a decree shall go forth from the highest offices that twelve criminals shall be chosen to share of the Zero's blood, becoming demons also"), but fails to bring readers adequately up to speed. A dramatis personae at the back listing more than 80 names is scarcely more helpful. 15- to 20-city author tour. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media Group. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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In this second book of his epic vampire trilogy (after The Passage), Cronin once again deposits readers on the front lines of a human-made apocalypse. On the North American continent, a failed government experiment has turned most of humanity into lethal, vampirelike creatures called virals and destroyed the world as we know it. Cronin's story follows the human survivors, moving smoothly between "Year Zero," when the outbreak began, and a period 97 years later, when the remaining pockets of humanity seek not only to survive but also to eradicate the viral plague and defeat a despotic regime that has risen to power. VERDICT- Cronin's masterly prose and intricate plotting bring an entire world to life; his cast features both the flawed and the heroic, including an impressive number of strong female characters, and the vast scope of his story begs favorable comparisons to epics such as J.R.R. Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings and Stephen King's The Stand. Readers left hanging at the end of the first book will find some resolution here, but also twists, turns, and new developments that will make them desperate for book three. Strongly recommended for readers who enjoy- thrillers, science fiction, and epic adventure tales. [See Prepub Alert, 4/16/12; library marketing.]-Amy Hoseth, Colorado State Univ. Lib., Fort Collins (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
The second installment of Cronin's postapocalyptic trilogy (after The Passage, 2010) continues 5 years after the fall of First Colony (97 years after the government-made virus first wiped out mankind as we know it, turning people into horrific vampiric beasts). The title refers to the original 12 carriers of the virus, convicts who became unwitting test subjects and are now supercreatures. If the original 12 can be destroyed, the legions that they created will also die, leaving the remaining humans safe enough to rebuild the world. The plot mostly follows Amy, the young girl who represents the antidote to the virus, who remains a mysterious, messiah-like figure, and a band of characters from the first novel who find themselves under even more trying circumstances than before. Collaborators (a rogue band of humans) are capturing others, creating a gulag for the red-eyes, vampires who have set up a creepy, paranormal government of sorts. Although the twisting plot is often convoluted, Cronin writes scenes of palpably growing terror and manages to keep up intense pacing and characterization. Passage fans will be clamoring for this one.--Vnuk, Rebecca Copyright 2010 Booklist