Ballentine Books, $28.00, 568 pages, ISBN 978-0-345-50498
I swore I’d never do it again. Took the pledge and promised that was it, I’d never touch the stuff again and I meant it. I really did. But then, over time my resolve weakened. Things happened. Life, with all of its trials and tribulations, intervened. Day-by-day I felt myself slipping . . . finally I could stand it no more. I gave in to my craving and pure animal lust took over. I was powerless, washed away in a flood of self-loathing and pity, as I gave in to my reptilian sub-conscious. And . . . I’m almost ashamed to admit it . . . I read another vampire novel.
The Twelve by Justin Cronin is the second of his epic vampire trilogy which began with last year’s massive tome: The Passage and lest there’s confusion, these aren’t touchy, feel-good, I only drink artificial blood and fall in love with moonstruck teeny-bopper vampires. Nope. These undead ones are the real deal; the bite your head off and kill-you-dead vampires. They’ve run amok and have so decimated the world that now, 100 years after the catastrophe caused by an out of control government program, the vampires are dying off because there aren’t enough humans left to feed them. This novel is action-packed from start to finish, and has a cast of characters worthy of a Fyodor Dostoyevsky novel. Fortunately, for those who choose to read it, the author has provided a list of characters at the back of the book to help you keep track of who is who. It’s there, I think, because the story plays out in the points-of-view of various characters in a random order that I found it hard to keep interest in. Fortunately, Mr. Cronin brings all the different elements together for the last half of the book. The action picks up to a white-hot pace that keeps the reader face down in the pages, racing to the stunning conclusion. An ending which neatly lays the groundwork for the last of the trilogy in another year or so. I’ll be ready for another vampire story by then. I’m sure it, like the first two, will be another blockbuster.