I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
Series: The Passage #3
Published by Ballantine Books on May 24th 2016
Genres: Horror, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: The Twelve
In "The Passage" and "The Twelve", Justin Cronin brilliantly imagined the fall of civilization and humanity s desperate fight to survive. Now all is quiet on the horizon but does silence promise the nightmare s end or the second coming of unspeakable darkness? At last, this bestselling epic races to its breathtaking finale.
"The world we knew is gone. What world will rise in its place?"
The Twelve have been destroyed and the hundred-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew and daring to dream of a hopeful future.
But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy – humanity's only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him.
One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.
The Passage series
“City of memories, city of mirrors. Am I alone? Yes and no. I am a man of many descendants.”
The year is 101 A.V. and three years have passed since the elimination of the Twelve, three years since any viral has been sighted and 100 thousand people are living comfortably behind the secure walls of Kerrville, Texas. But after three years it’s easy to start thinking that they’re finally safe, that they don’t have to remain behind this wall because there’s nothing left to fear. And that’s exactly what the citizens of Kerrville do, they pack up their belongings and seek out a new home, beyond the wall, because it’s no longer a necessity for safety. It’s almost too late before they realize that maybe what they thought was safety was nothing but a mirage.
‘A world of souls, both the living and the dead, in which time and space, memory and desire, existed in a purely fluid state, the way they did in dreams.’
From the very beginning, we’re made aware that the world does, in fact, survive this catastrophe that has consumed the world. The City of Mirrors opens with a reading from what is known as “The Book of Twelves“, a journal that was discovered that to some extent explains the virus and its origins, which is being presented at the Third Global Conference on the North American Quarantine Period. The year is 1003 A.V. (After Virus) So no matter how unlikely survival seems to be amidst the ongoing battle, we can rest assured with the knowledge that humankind manages to find a way to survive. This certainly doesn’t lessen the agitation in wondering who exactly does survive.
Completing this trilogy was clearly an immense undertaking and despite being upset it took as long as it did to come to fruition (it was originally anticipated that each book would be released every other year so technically we were supposed to get this back in 2014, but whatever, I’ll let it go), I can certainly understand it. After all, the three books combined are close to 2,000 pages total. I read The Passage when it was first published in 2010 and it was such an incredibly impressive book that I still remember being in complete awe of Cronin’s talents. The Twelve came out two years later and I was manic about getting my hands on a copy. I was supremely disappointed once I did. The Twelve was such a vastly different change of pace and it felt like nothing but an incredibly huge filler book. Having no idea what to expect from The City of Mirrors, I still picked this one up with both trepidation and confidence. I was pretty conflicted emotionally. And even after finishing it I still am slightly.
Cronin did a remarkable job at re-introducing characters we’ve all come to know and love and giving them their much-deserved endings. There seemed to be quite a lot of time spent on characters that didn’t seem to be of much consequence which only added to the already massive page length. But the plot was the real reason for page length if we’re placing blame. It was a slow build which was at first off-putting since personally I went into this thinking we’d be in for some massive battle at a rapid pace. In truth, that action I was anticipating didn’t actually happen until the midway point of this 624-page tome. But up until that point, we’re shown a typical day in Kerrville. And more and more typical days. There’s Michael and his seemingly impossible plan to save the world that he’s been working towards for over two decades. Peter. Alicia. Amy. Sara. They all have stories to tell. And of course, Zero. Before, when his name was Fanning. When he was a student at Harvard University in the late 1980s. Before he traveled to South America and became the only surviving carrier of the virus that brought the world to near ruin. We’re given his complete story in an attempt to bring him to the forefront when he has always been nothing more than a background villain. To give reason to his madness after death was an interesting addition, and while his story was reasonably moving, this is a character that we’ve never seen play a part as a human being. He has always been the ultimate danger, the reason humankind was near decimated, and to humanize him was irrelevant because he was no longer human. His life and who he was “before” was inconsequential.
While the lead up was slow-going and it started lagging again towards the near end, Cronin still ends this apocalyptic tale on an excellent note. We’re given more details about the Global Conference that took place, the knowledge that they do and don’t possess of the virus that destroyed the world, and the fascinating archaeological records. My advanced reader copy didn’t contain the actual art/photographs but it is referenced in the epilogue that various aerial photographs, microscopic slides of the virus found in human remains, and maps of the past and current world are included. I’m interested enough to pick up the real copy and do a re-read of the epilogue just for that extra tidbit. This installment might not have left me completely satisfied, but I can’t deny that this was still a solid trilogy about an apocalyptic world I hope never to find myself in the middle of. The descriptive details of how the virus came to infect its first host is a scientific terror that is alarmingly probable. I also can’t deny that Cronin is one skillful author that has an unbelievable way with words. I can’t wait to see what new world he invents next.
‘The song was like a sonic embodiment of pure emotion. There was a deep heartache inside its phrases, but the feeling was expressed with such tenderness that it did not seem sad. It made him think of the way time felt, always falling into the past, becoming memory.’