"What strange places our lives can carry us to, what dark passages."
A 2010 horror/post-apocalyptic novel by Justin Cronin, the first of a planned trilogy. The Twelve came out in October 2012 and The City of Mirrors is scheduled to come out in 2014.The novel concerns a secret government experiment with a virus that makes vampires. So far, there have been thirteen subjects: the Twelve, inmates on death row convinced to join the program in exchange for not dying, and Zero, one of the scientists that discovered the virus.Brad Wolgast is an FBI agent assigned to finding and convincing the death row inmates to join the program - until the last subject he needed to find was Amy Harper Bellafonte, a six year old girl.Wolgast has no choice. He has to turn her over, but as soon as he does something catastrophic happens. The Twelve escape. The virus gets loose.Though that story is an epic in itself, it is merely the introduction to a larger conflict set decades later, following a young man named Peter Jaxon trying to make sense of himself and the world Wolgast wrought. Disaster befalls his settlement, prompting a journey that takes him across the former North American continent, searching for the truth behind the virus.A film adaptation of the novel will be directed by Matt Reeves, who previously directed Let Me In and Cloverfield.The sequel, titled The Twelve, continues Jaxon's story five years later with flashbacks to the time of the viral outbreak covering the story behind Wolgast's ex-wife Lila and the forebears of important characters in Jaxon's time. The threat of the viral progenitors, twelve death-row inmates and one scientist who underwent experimental treatments, looms larger and Peter Jaxon and Amy race to find a true solution to the world-ravaging virus.
0% Approval Rating: Despite the propaganda spread throughout the Homeland, nobody likes 'Director' Horace Guilder but most are too scared and beaten down to do anything about it. Even his own allies gradually begin to fear and dislike him.
Abandoned Laboratory: After the outbreak, the Colorado facility becomes this. Except it isn't fully abandoned: Lacey resides there.
Babcock's mother put out cigarettes on him, hurt him physically and taunted him verbally; her abuse ultimately drove him to kill her.
Lawrence Grey endured a series of sexually abusive stepfathers and 'uncles'.
Tifty Lamont was beaten by his drunken father to the point where bones were broken.
Horace Guilder's father was emotionally distant and unloving.
Accidental Murder: Amy's mother kills a frat boy by accident when he tries to force her into his frat house for a gang-rape.
Achilles' Heel: The virals' only weak spot is right above their breastbone. A knife or bullet anywhere else will just inconvenience them.
Action Girl: Alicia Donadio is the most prevalent due to her status as a One Woman Army, but Lore DeVeer is no pushover and Nina is the second-in-command to the Insurgency. Sara becomes an Action Survivor and even Amy gets in on the act.
Action Survivor: If someone isn't instantly killed, they're pretty much forced to become this to survive.
Adult Fear: The series is rife with these: miscarriage, mental illness, the death of your only child, isolationism and terminal illness are all fears which plague the characters (and happen to them).
After the End: The first part ("The Worst Dream of the World") takes place Just Before the End, but after that the majority of the book is spent after the fall of America (and likely, the rest of the world).
Anyone Can Die: So far, Cole, Paulson, Sykes, Richards, Doyle, Lear, the Colonel, Arlo, Elton, Mira, Billie, Gus, Caleb, Jude, Vorhees, Babcock, Kittridge, Nelson, Satch Dodd, Ceps, Wilkes, Guilder, Tifty, Wolgast, Martinez and all of the Twelve save for Carter and Zero.
Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: The Twelve don't fight or hurt each other. Possibly subverted by Zero, who appears to have manipulated his brothers to die.
Apocalyptic Log: A few, in the form of Auntie's books, newspaper clippings, and Dr Jonas Lear's e-mail correspondence. For some parts of the book After the End, the POV switches to a diary Sara Fisher is keeping.
Apocalypse How: Either a Class 0 or a Class 1. Class 0 if the quarantine was successful, Class 1 if the virus escaped the North American continent. Largely left ambiguous.
Armies Are Evil: Played both ways. The army personnel at the Colorado Compound are a mix of sociopathic monsters and jaded suicidal types, but the Army of the Republic of Texas are mostly reasonable nice guys. There are also many examples of soldiers disobeying orders because they have a moral objection, such as those ordered to bomb civilian sites to stop the virus spreading.
The Atoner: Several characters are atoning for their past sins, most notably Wolgast, Grey and Carter.
Bad Dreams: Several characters have them, due to the Twelve having the ability to influence people through dreams.
Decoy Protagonist: The book has numerous POV characters, but the ones who gain initial focus are Brad Wolgast and Lacey the nun in The Passage, and Lawrence Grey and Lila in The Twelve. All of them are major supporting characters, but Peter Jaxon and Amy are the ones who the story revolve around and have the most significant page-time. Interestingly, in both books, Peter is the last character to be introduced, but arguably the main protagonist.
Deadpan Snarker: Several characters, most notably Michael, Lore, Nelson and Richards.
Divided States of America: During the initial cataclysm, both California and Texas break off from the Union, causing minor civil wars. The latter survives so well that 100 years later it is beginning to perform sweep-and-clear operations.
From Bad to Worse: The US of 2018 is already a World Half Empty due to a terrorist massacre in the Mall of America and the reaction to it, showing definite fascist tendencies. Then the virus hits.
Gone Horribly Wrong: Who'd have thought that giving convicted murderers superhuman powers would be a bad idea?
Heroic Sacrifice: Sister Lacey sets off a small nuclear bomb to kill Babcock and herself. Grey and Lila later do something similar to stop Guilder, while at the same time Wolgast suicide-bombs the Master Virals.
Hive Mind: Each of the Twelve controls all the vampires he created or that those vampires created.
The Horde: It's rare to see a lone Viral, and they usually travel in packs of three but there are plenty of terrifying examples of thousands of Virals getting together for an unstoppable attack.
Long Lived: In the beginning of the book, Amy is six years old. Almost a hundred years later, they characters say that she looks fourteen. The first lines of the book call her "The Girl who Lived A Thousand Years."
Meaningful Name: Jude (Judas) of the Haven colony works to provide the viral Babcock four cows and two fellow humans to be eaten each month, effectively betraying the human race to ensure his own survival.
Mercy Kill: Many prefer to be killed than change into Virals.
Not Quite Dead: Various characters who seem to be dead later turn up alive, such as Jude, Theo and Sara.
Not Using the Z Word: Played with. In the beginning, "vampire" is used to deride the project with the virus. After the virus is let loose, people come up with various names for them - virals, smokes, jumpers - but they all admit that they are vampires.
The point is underlined when, in the future, most viral hunters and soldiers refer to Dracula as an excellent introduction to the basics of defense against jumpers because the weaknesses detailed happen to be surprisingly accurate. Presumably, in the universe of the books, the story of Dracula was influenced by ancient reports of infected virals.
Our Vampires Are Different: They have a mental link with each other and with the Twelve. Each of the Twelve may control a large portion of the vampires they created - Babcock controlled the Many and when he died, Amy helped them to die too. They are very tough due to the virus changing their skin into a "protein-based exoskeleton" that is stronger than Kevlar.
Police State: The 'present-day' USA has adopted increasingly fascist, Big Brother policies.
Reluctant Mad Scientist: Dr. Jonas Lear, who wanted to solve the mystery of death. He quickly becomes disillusioned and broken.
Scavenger World: Everything has pretty much just been left to rot. Vorhees even has a theory that other countries probably tried to take advantage of America's collapse to get their hands on gold deposits and valuable nuclear weapons. Chances are, they brought the Virus back to their countries with them.
Took a Level in Badass: Many characters have to. The ones that don't, die. Special mention to Michael, who goes from a skinny, pale tech guy to a tanned, muscular, sex-havin' 'oiler' and Genius Bruiser.
Used Future: Comes with the post-apocalyptic world the characters live in.
The War on Terror: A terrorist attack on the Mall of America results in the United States adopting a number of fascist tendencies, including military checkpoints at state borders and an expanded form of the Patriot Act.
Weakened by the Light: Most vampires can't stand sunlight, though some can tolerate it (both Amy and Alicia later can travel during the day).
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Many of the characters involved with Project Noah, such as Lear and Sykes. Lear is still grieving for his dead wife and wants to stop death and Sykes wants to improve the military to protect his country. They both gradually realize they're being used by the higher-ups for more sinister purposes and there won't be a happy ending.
Lawrence Grey is a paedophile who gains incredible powers and ends up indirectly allowing the Homeland to exist by keeping Guilder alive. He was also mercilessly abused by a variety of father figures after his real father killed himself. Grey found the body. He's also kept a prisoner for almost 100 years, immobile and frequently humiliated.
Horace Guilder, the Big Bad of The Twelve, had an emotionally abusive father and was loved by nobody, while slowly dying of Lou Gehrig's Disease.
Giles Babcock, the Viral who kills millions was horribly abused by his mother and sentenced to death despite clearly being too insane to be deemed responsible for his own actions.
Would Hurt a Child: Guilder and the Virals. The Virals at least have an excuse, due to their Horror Hunger and the fact that most of them are mindless beasts. Guilder and his men are just murderous bastards.