Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

Here's what I've been reading since August 11...yes, that would mean more than two weeks spent with one book, but...oh, what a book.

The Twelve by Justin Cronin is the sequel to The Passage (review here), the post-apocalyptic tour de force released in 2010. I became completely immersed then in the America that suffers an attack by a group of escaped virals, men (with one notable exception) who had been on death row who were used for a military experiment that went horribly wrong. The Twelve picks up five years after the ending of The Passage, and our band of fighters has scattered, with its members either joining the Expeditionary, taken, or fighting separately. The virals are as prevalent and deadly as ever, and even after the death of Babcock in The Passage, no one is closer to finding and eliminating any other of the Twelve. It's almost as though time has stalled for Peter, Michael, Alicia, and Amy...until Alicia's determination to discover the hiding spot of Martinez brings momentum back to the survivors of the First Colony. Meanwhile, there is some time jumping as we are introduced to Lila and Guilder, two characters who will play extremely important roles almost immediately after the initial disaster began; Lila, a pregnant doctor, is traumatized enough by an emergency room attack that she in essence becomes convinced that *nothing* happened, and Guilder, a man suffering from ALS, survives an attack on his own, transformed into something I never saw coming. How these two lives' mix into that of Lawrence Grey from The Passage is both heart wrenching and horrifying, and leads directly to the main action climax of The Twelve.

There is SO. MUCH.  in The Twelve, and I'd recommend a reread of The Passage if time permits because it is all so intricate and complicated. There is time movement between the initial attacks, then forward about seventy-five years to another disaster that became known as The Massacre in the Field, and finally, we are led back 100 years post-apocalypse to our First Colony fighters and their determination to destroy the Twelve. The discovery of a settlement with echoes of Hitler's concentration camps leads Peter, Michael, and Alicia northward while Amy is drawn separately to the same place. There are echoes of Brad Wolgast and his deep connection to Amy; there is the hint that not all of the Twelve have lost all traces of humanity in Carter's ability to speak with Amy; there is the appearance of a mysterious woman who leads virals to not only attack, but to take some select humans alive. And through it all, we meet and re-meet people and we're given tantalizing hints of what might happen until it all goes to hell.

I feel as though I'm not doing justice to this novel which has totally enveloped me in the past two weeks; I want to say so much more but yet saying one thing would lead to another and I don't want to possibly spoil anything. I will say that much like The Passage,  there were moments and sections in The Twelve when I was so confused and there was so much going on I couldn't keep it all straight, and then there were pages when I just wanted the story to move ahead. But when the action hits, and it hits often and hard, it is next to impossible to put this book down. And you don't know where you're going, and you don't know if a beloved character will make it...and I have to say that the final 50 pages or so are probably some of the best action sequences I've read in quite some time. 

I want to talk about what happens to Amy, to Lila, to Grey, to Guilder (the bloody bastard), to Peter, Michael, Alicia, and Hollis...I want to bounce ideas against someone who has read the final 50 pages to see if they interpret a few things as I do. The writing is so detailed, so deep that I feel as though it washed right over me at times; I was riveted, repulsed, and spellbound. I *need* someone else to discuss this book with me! 

The Twelve is a worthy sequel to The Passage, and Cronin's writing is both grand and gripping. When I think back over the 500+ pages, I almost feel as though I'd read two or three separate books that somehow weave together to form one momentous story. Amazing and awesome. I suggest you pre-order it now for it's October 2012 arrival.

I received this ARC from a friend who attended BEA earlier in the summer. I'm not being paid for this honest review, but my imagination has surely been stretched and hammered through its reading. LOVED IT. Seriously, seriously loved it.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

All You Desire

In All You Desire, the story opens with Haven and Iain living, they think safely, in Rome, away from the Ouroboros Society and the horror of past lives lost. Having been quietly in Rome for a year, things begin to change when Haven starts to suspect someone is following her, then the money she "inherited" upon Iain's faked death is cut off; but most disturbingly, Haven's best friend Beau travels to New York and ends up missing. Trying to draw on a past life to help Beau, it doesn't take long for Haven to realize she must go to NYC herself in order to save her friend, and Iain, though it will place him in danger, must follow. Once there, she comes face to face with Adam Rosier once again, but is it possible that he's changed? Does he really intend to leave Haven alone in this lifetime and to cleanse the Ouroboros Society of the greed that has overtaken it? And should Haven be having the feelings she is for him?

What I Liked: I love the relationship between Haven and Iain. Even when there is friction, you can still feel the deep emotion these two share. I also liked the introduction of new characters Owen and Alex, and I adore Leah and her visions. There are lots of twists and turns in All You Desire, and I love that I'm just not sure whether Adam has changed. The idea that Haven and Iain could go from living relatively normally to being pulled back into the OS was well handled, and I'm anxious to see how everything is going to play out in the next novel. After being taken on an exhausting ride in AYD, I can only begin to imagine where we'll finally end up.

What Annoyed Me: Haven is *still* too naive and gullible and I seriously wanted her to grow a spine at times, especially when dealing with Adam. The Horae, the mysterious sisterhood woven into the OS and Beau's disappearance, was full of mean-spirited, hateful women and I wish Haven could have stayed away from them fully, though I know they were central to the story. Doesn't mean I have to like them. And the speed at which Haven solves the mystery occasionally felt times she became too sidetracked with Adam and Beau became lost in the shuffle.

I was concerned that this installment would be a letdown from the excellent The Eternal Ones, and I was pleasantly surprised that this edition built soundly on the original story. Very complex, All You Desire was every bit as good as The Eternal Ones; I cannot imagine how it's all going to play out and that's the beauty of the story. And that ending? Killer cliff hanger! Well done and absorbing.


Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Hallowed Ones

Katie is Amish and has lived her entire sixteen years as a member of her church community, helping her family and raising golden retrievers, looking forward to her upcoming Rumspringa that she will spend with her sort of boyfriend, Elijah. Pretty normal for a Plain girl...until the day in late September when the ravens began to act weirdly and the people Outside, including some of the Amish, disappear. Katie and Elijah leave their community to go in search of his missing brothers and find...nothing. No trace of them or much of anyone else. And when they return, all within the community are forbidden to leave, and while Katie understands (better than some) that it's for her safety, she still feels cheated of her youthful wandering time and pushed into a world that she's not ready for.

There is so much more to this novel than the post-apocalyptic story of the survivors of a bio-terrorist attack, and it's a page turner for sure. Katie is headstrong and rebellious while at the same time a dutiful daughter with a kind heart, and you can just feel her pain and disappointment at the loss of her freedom and the shift in Elijah that comes as a result of the loss of his brothers. It's these feelings that lead her to defy the Elders and rescue an Outsider; it's these feelings that lead her into a truly terrifying encounter with what's Outside now. And it's her spirit that leads her to do what's right.
The Hallowed Ones is well written and gripping and I spent a very late night finishing it since I literally had to know how it played out. Katie's reality doesn't stop her from taking risks despite the sheltered existence the Bishop wishes to keep on his flock; she's feisty and determined with a clear voice that gets you inside her head. The action is almost non-stop and at times heartbreaking: Ginger, Katie's customer who finds herself stuck and cut off from family brings the truth home to Katie in ways her Elders refuse to see. But mostly this book is horrifyingly creepy, with dark, dark images and atmosphere that pulls you into the scary settings. It's gory and disturbing but yet it's human in a world gone mad. This book is different than many of its genre with its Amish connection and ties to ancient evil. If you don't mind gore and a strong creep factor, pick up The Hallowed Ones...I doubt you'll be ale to put it down. I've rarely been so deliciously scared.

I received this novel from the Amazon Vine program.