Post, post-apocalypse North America in Cronin's The Twelve

Justin Cronin's protaganists roam a post-apocalyptic North America after a deadly virus turns humanity into bloodthristy demons in The Twelve.

The Twelve by Justin Cronin
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The Twelve
Justin Cronin
Orion Books

Fans of Justin Cronin's The Passage urge newcomers to read that novel before settling down with its sequel The Twelve. Fortunately for those without the luck or time to have done so, The Twelve's prologue creatively summarises its predecessor's events in the form of a Bible-inspired timeline.

Cronin introduces his characters through plot arcs that lead on from the outbreak of a deadly virus that turns humans into bloodthirsty demons. Key protagonists from the prequel appear in The Twelve, roaming the remains of a mostly barren, post-apocalyptic North America in the hopes of garnering enough strength to face the prophesy of "the Twelve", who shall appear to wreak their ultimate punishment on the world. Meanwhile, the Twelfth - an ancient in a girl's body - prepares her own sacrifice.

Categorically referred to as sci-fi horror, this generalisation still does little justice to the depth of storytelling and sensory value of Cronin's writing. While The Twelve takes its time building up to its conclusion, the climax it finally delivers is palpable enough to stun.