Cronin’s apocalypse is man-made, as befitting this day and age: the vampires aren’t creatures of mysterious origin, but an army experiment gone wrong and – in the post-Twilight era it feels almost mandatory to add – not the sparkly kind. They’re wild animals, souls twisted beyond recognition and eternally searching for their true identity, for the self that was lost when they were made by one of The Twelve and the key to their salvation is Amy, the Thirteenth, the little girl on whom the experiment didn’t go quite the same as on the others. The Twelve are all ex-cons, and the first 300 pages we spend with their back stories, putting together all the puzzle pieces that are clearly hurtling towards disaster (because when have, in fiction, army experiments gone right?).
But then, you’re so suddenly thrown in the world of the year 92 AV – with its post-apocalyptic unrecognizability and a whole cast of new characters that you feel a bit off-balance. I mean sure, you expect everything to come together, but it feels like a cheat to have read 300 pages about people you’ll not be hearing about again. We’re introduced to a Colony of survivors, men and women constantly living under the harsh glare of lights to keep the virals at bay. And then, of course, something happens that disrupts their daily lives: Amy, the little girl, appears amongst them and a plucky band of misfits (I’ve always wanted to use this phrase :P) will go with her, trying to find what the world is really made of and, perhaps, they key to their salvation. If it sounds sort of cliché, it’s because it is (in some places at least) but you’re so engrossed in the action and the suspense of what will happen next that there’s not much time to analyze; it’s just a matter of sitting back and enjoying the ride – and I for one did, quite a bit.
The readings at the conference in 1003 AV from The Book of Sara and The Book of Auntie got me thinking in an odd way that whatever historical relics we discover and study once belonged to real people, to people who carried on their daily lives, just like, in all probability, some things we use today will, in 1000 years, be relics to someone else. It all depends on your point of reference really and it’s a bit sad, a bit disconcerting to think of your own life as someone else’s object of study. Anyway, enough with this silliness 🙂 The ending is a sort of cliffhanger, paving the way for volume 2, which is, I think, supposed to come out some time in 2012 – and I’m definitely looking forward to it. And if you want to read more about this one, it’s say the Washington Post review is as good a place as any to start.