THE TWELVE is vastly different from THE PASSAGE in terms of plot focus and central theme. Apart from being set in the same world as its predecessor, THE TWELVE reads as an entirely different book conceptually. The virals and humanity's struggle to thrive in a limited existence was bound to evolve, yet it may have been to the detriment of all that Cronin had achieved in THE PASSAGE.
Where THE PASSAGE excelled in elements of survival horror, post apocalyptic dread, horrific creatures and a truly depressing and desperate setting, THE TWELVE is more thriller, action, almost special ops orientated. This approach, while decent in its own right, paled in comparison to the THE PASSAGE. I was hoping for something that followed up from THE PASSAGE, something that picked up the bloodied pieces of the shocking conclusion and maintained the same horror of the first instalment.
THE TWELVE in turn, focuses more on the human dynamic and less on the virals themselves. Amy, the mysterious thirteenth test subject becomes something much more than an everlasting, slow ageing viral cousin so to speak. Her story is one of the highlights, along with the expanded sub plot given to Alicia Donadio.
You could easily be excused for thinking THE TWELVE was written by Stephen King. All the hallmarks of a popular King horror are paramount through Cronin's THE TWELVE. Characters are given ample time to develop, past and present conflicts morph as one, the slow burning plot cruises along leisurely at times taking a back seat to dialogue or less critical narrative, and the overall feel is very in tune with Kings craft.
If not for THE PASSAGE, THE TWELVE would read much better. That said, THE PASSAGE is essential in defining the world and establishing the core characters. As much as I enjoyed THE TWELVE, I couldn't help but think it would've been much better if had resembled THE PASSAGE more. The ending has me counting down the days until the third book is released though my thirst isn't that of when THE PASSAGE concluded.