|The Twelve follows on from The
Passage. The story which began with infecting twelve death row prisoners with
a virus to turn them into the ultimate soldier; unkillable, powerful and without weakness
(how could this possibly go wrong?), continues in the years after the Twelve have escaped
from the secure complex where they were being held, and have unleashed the virus, which
turns its victims into vampires, on America. The majority of the action is set 79-97 years
after the virus has been unleashed. There are little pockets of humanity which have
survived, forming tactics to stave off the worst of the ever growing hoards of vampires;
guarded stockades, a series of strong boxes strung out over the States to spend the night
in and farming work overseen by sentries with guns. Plans are being drawn up to strike
back at the lairs of the Twelve, who control through a hive mind, their victims. Pivotal
to these plans is Amy, the thirteenth test subject, no longer a little girl, whose
abilities include being able to get into the hive mind and sense the Twelve.
Twelve is an absolutely gripping tale. I definitely had a feeling of Stephen
King and The Stand when I read it (and, yes, I am a Stephen King
fan, and The Stand is one of my favourites of his books); a
post-apocalyptic America, a disparate group of survivors and the need to survive against
all odds. Though, here, the characters are less black and white than The Stand.
There are motivations given even for the worst of the human 'baddies' (we even get a
viewpoint of a couple of the Twelve vampires), and the 'goodies' have sufficient flaws
that it would be easy to see how they would be changed if they were on the other side of
the fence. Each section has its own self contained stories as well as characters which
continue through the book.
Whilst The Twelve is the second of a trilogy, it doesn't make a
huge difference whether or not you have read The Passage (I
hadn't; I am now going to have to go out and find it). The prologue gives you enough
information about the first book to understand what is happening, and, whilst there are
the occasional references to the events of the first story and unexplained connections
between people, they do not have a significant bearing on the story, and are primarily
nods for the astute reader. Even better, as the middle section of a trilogy, the story is
self contained. You can tell that the characters and events will continue into the third
book, but if you choose only to read this one, you aren't left hanging with a sense that
you are missing out by not reading the next book.
Overall, The Twelve is an excellent read, with pacing that
doesn't let up right to the end, and I can really recommend it.