Once again I find myself unable to actually review this book. Since it’s a newer release, I certainly don’t want to spoil it for those of you that are looking forward to it. Seriously, there are no spoilers in this post.
I’m sure you remember my massively edited post for The Passage. I did not particularly care for it [the book, not my post - dur]. Mostly because I felt that it was both too long and not long enough at the same time. I realize that sounds rather contradictory, but what I wanted was for the author to take his time with things, instead of just plunging us into new things…but not to drag on with unimportant details.
Was The Twelve better about that?
Kind of. It’s definitely not going on any end of the year lists for me – unless they’re super snarktastic – but it was shorter, so that counts for something, right?
No, but really, as I was reading, I realized what I think the root of my problem with this series is.
Justin Cronin’s primary background is in the literary sort of fiction. In fact, he states in the introduction to the first book that The Passage was really only written on a dare from his (at the time) 8 year old daughter.
Indeed, if you look at the Amazon rankings for that first book, you’ll see that it’s #1 in LITERARY fiction for Kindle, and #2 in ALL literary fiction.
I’m currently reading Philip Pullman’s soon to be released retellings of some of the Grimm Faerie Tales (review on that in a few days), and in the introduction, he has this to say about why faerie tales work:
A good tale moves with a dreamlike speed from event to event, pausing only to say as much as is needed and no more. The best tales are perfect examples of what you do need and what you don’t: in Rudyard Kipling’s image, fires that blaze brightly because all the ashes have been raked out. The opening of a tale, for example. All we need is the word ‘Once . . .’ and we’re off.
I bring this up now (even though I intend to expand on it further when I actually review that book) because most of his introduction here was a kind of lightning strike to that section of my brain that always wondered “Wait. Is there something wrong with me? This is something that EVERYONE ELSE loves, why do I not?”
I realized while reading this book of faerie tales that it’s just because I don’t like most literary fiction.
And therein lie my problems with Cronin’s The Passage series. It’s another example of literary fiction disguising itself as genre fiction, and I can’t stand that. You may (or may not) remember that this was also my problem with Charles Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, that was literary fiction disguised as sf – this is literary fiction disguised as fantasy.
Yes, I realize that these books are getting all the props for making vampires scary again, and I can appreciate that. I really can. It’s about damn time.
But I’m too much of an unrepentant genre geek to enjoy it. The story drags in too many places with too many revelations of motivations for actions that happened 500 pages ago, and by that point I’ve already forgotten what’s supposed to be being explained.
Will I be reading The City of Mirrors when it comes out in two thousand effing fourteen? It’s likely. But then I’ll just rant because I can’t remember anything from the first two, and I’ll refuse to re-read them.
[eta] Thanks to Heather for slogging through this one with me. She made it almost bearable.
I do have spoilery things I want to talk about, but I’ll add them on at the end on goodreads where I have access to spoiler tags.