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9. The Passage, Justin Cronin

&
10. The Twelve, Justin Cronin


So, these were fun! I was in need of good pulpy fiction, and a random post on Jezebel came just in the nick of time. I've been struggling to finish another book, about the influenza epidemic, so diving into two books about a different kind of epidemic was an interesting choice, in the end, but it did the trick. Cronin is a pretty passable writer, and his version of vampires is satisfyingly different from pretty much every other depiction out there right now. It's true what they say, he's a master of the backstory, you get to dig into the why & how some characters make difficult choices, though not in a way that's overly precious. He manages switching between narrators without making it trite, which is no mean feat these days. I don't want to say much about the storyline, to avoid spoilers, but I'll say that I felt in pretty good hands the whole way through. I do have some meta quibbles -- apparently there are no gay people in this universe, and biblical allusions (covert and overt) run pretty strong throughout, there is an unfortunate episode with a "tranny" side character, and there are three characters who are suspiciously magical/spiritual. Also, in this post-apocalyptic world, it seems pretty convenient that everyone who gets pregnant wants their child & keeps their child, I gave the side-eye to that unspoken theme. I did enjoy following this world from a recognizable near-future (Governor Jenna Bush!) into the eye of the epidemic and beyond, and to see the different versions of societies that survived -- you get to know three or four distinctly different survivor societies along the way. I read both of these books on the Seattle trip on my iPhone, which is a weird way to read a book, for me. I definitely don't absorb as much detail as I do from a physical page (travel + electronic page), and in a few instances I had completely forgotten someone's name, which robbed some of the "oh shit look what this person is up to now" revelations of their drama. If you enjoy Crichton-esque adventures, I highly recommend this series. It's better than the average pulp. The only downside is waiting for the third and final book to come out in 2014!
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