The City of Mirrors: A Novel (Book Three of The Passage Trilogy)

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The City of Mirrors: A Novel (Book Three of The Passage Trilogy)

The City of Mirrors: A Novel (Book Three of The Passage Trilogy)

The City of Mirrors: A Novel (Book Three of The Passage Trilogy)

“A thrilling finale to a trilogy that will stand as one of the great achievements in American fantasy fiction.”—Stephen King
 
You followed The Passage. You faced The Twelve. Now enter The City of Mirrors for the final reckoning. As the bestselling epic races to its breathtaking finale, Justin Cronin’s band of hardened survivors await the second coming of unspeakable darkness.
 
The world we knew is gone. What world will rise in its place?
 
The Twelve have bee

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Kathy Cunningham

May 23, 2016 at 3:01 am
92 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Brilliant and beautiful — the perfect ending to a gripping trilogy, March 18, 2016
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Kathy Cunningham (Bowie, MD USA) –
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This review is from: The City of Mirrors: A Novel (Book Three of The Passage Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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Justin Cronin’s THE CITY OF MIRRORS sets out to do the seemingly impossible – wrap up scores of characters and an immense landscape of action in a way that will satisfy readers who have waited four years for the publication of this book. Well, I guess Cronin can do the impossible! Because CITY is a brilliant novel, powerful in its message and extraordinarily satisfying in its concluding pages. Spanning almost a thousand years, the story manages to keep the reader intimately connected to a group of characters we’ve known since the first installment (THE PASSAGE) while also letting us glimpse the vast scope of a story that touches the entire human race. This is a novel about hope, love, and human endurance set against a truly terrifying landscape that threatens the survival of humanity itself. Some have called this a classic “good vs. evil” story, but I don’t agree. It’s really a story about our own inner conflicts, the very human battles between our better natures and the urges that seek to undo us. What saves us, says Cronin, is love. If only we can recognize it.

CITY begins just after the end of the second installment (THE TWELVE), but it quickly jumps ahead three years, and then another nineteen. The characters Cronin focuses on are ones we know very well – Peter, Alicia, Sara, Hollis, Michael, Lucius, Caleb, Kate. Some were children when we first met them; some may be grandparents when we meet them again. Cronin provides a brief summary of sorts at the start of this novel, which does help to refresh our recollections (this was a big help to me, since I didn’t have an opportunity to re-read THE TWELVE before diving into CITY). But it took little time to become invested again in these people and the world they are trying to build. At the conclusion of THE TWELVE, only two questions remained – 1) what happened to Amy, and 2) where is Zero, aka Timothy Fanning, the first to be infected with the virus back in the early 21st century. The so-called “Twelve” (Fanning’s followers, convicts who had been infected with the virus as part of a government program) have been destroyed, meaning their “viral” hoards (vampire-like creatures that decimated the planet in the hundred years following the release of the virus) have died with them. So CITY begins in a place of relative calm. Kerrville in Texas is booming, people are living their lives again, and a new generation is born, a generation that knows nothing of virals and the horrors their parents lived through. But is it really over? Or is there a new threat, an even greater threat, waiting for the right time to reveal itself?

I’m not giving anything away to say that Amy plays a central part in this novel. There was never any doubt that she would be back for the finale. But the role Cronin has imagined for her is perfect in its ability to pull this immense story together in a brilliant and satisfying way. Amy has always been the focus of this trilogy, even if it wasn’t always clear why she was so important. In CITY, we understand her better than we have before. In many ways, this is her story, one she was created to tell.

As for Zero, I had my doubts about how he would fit into this novel. What Cronin does is introduce us to Timothy Fanning, the man who became Zero. And in so doing, he helps us see that behind any monster is the human he once was. Even the virals themselves are human beings, transformed into creatures driven by blood lust – but they also have names and memories and pieces of a past they cling to, even in their rage. I found Fanning’s story fascinating. He tells it in first-person, beginning with these words: “Behind every great hatred is a love story.”

Therein is the heart of CITY, and of the trilogy as a whole. This, too, is a love story. It’s about people clinging together against horrible adversity, risking everything for those they love. At one point, Fanning says, “It’s love that enslaves us,” but Amy knows that only love has the power to set us free. And that’s what happens in CITY – there’s a lot of sadness, a lot of death, but in the end it’s love that sets the survivors free.

The final section of CITY reminded me a lot of the end of Margaret Atwood’s HANDMAID’S TALE. It’s set a thousand years in the future, when a symposium has been convened to investigate the discovery of a mysterious journal that may hold the secrets to humanity’s history. It’s an odd final section (just as it was in Atwood’s book) because it takes us away from the story we’ve been following. But Cronin manages to not only bring us back to that central story, but to make a much bigger connection between the people we’ve come to love and the future of the human…

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Paper or Kindle

May 23, 2016 at 3:02 am
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars
One major flaw, several minor anomalies, April 15, 2016
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This review is from: The City of Mirrors: A Novel (Book Three of The Passage Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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Although the conclusion to this vast, literary horror trilogy is ultimately satisfying, I couldn’t overlook a major flaw and a few lesser anomalies. I won’t mention the anomalies; if the reader misses them, there’s no need to bring them up. But no one can miss the elephant in the room – in this case, it’s a short novel within the larger one. It’s the tale of Fanning, aka Zero, the villain of all villains, whose deadly presence filled the first two novels with dread. The author skillfully moved back and forth in time over a thousand years, by inserting documents and short asides. But, when it came to Zero, Mr. Cronin chose to save up the entire backstory and dump it on the reader in the middle of the finale. It derails the tale, interferes with the flow, and all I could do was wonder why the author didn’t handle Zero similarly to other digressions in the first two books. It doesn’t help that the reader will probably find Fanning an unsympathetic character, as I did. I read through his story – it’s almost 200 pages out of the book – with grim determination. Would I learn enough to make this side trip worthwhile? Not really. I didn’t develop empathy for the character, and I felt that much of the story could have been edited without impairing the author’s vision of what the vampire apocalypse was all about. However, the rest of the story was satisfying. The author portrays well-rounded characters with believable psychology; their faults, flaws and vices make sense and lead to reasonable conclusions. My spirits were lifted by the end, and I was sorry that the saga was over. Before reading this, I re-read The Passage and The Twelve, to be sure every detail was fresh in my mind. I have to say, there are so many details, with tiny bits linked together over a few thousand pages, that I strongly recommend that you read the books in order in as short a period as you can manage. Otherwise, you’re likely to miss telling actions.
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Sandy Kay

May 23, 2016 at 3:27 am
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
It was slow starting but the writing is wonderful and by the end I loved it, March 27, 2016
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Sandy Kay (Twin Cities, Minnesota USA) –
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This review is from: The City of Mirrors: A Novel (Book Three of The Passage Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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Fans of this trilogy have waited a long long time for the ending and it is finally here. You absolutely should not read this book without having first read The Passage: A Novel (Book One of The Passage Trilogy) and The Twelve (Book Two of The Passage Trilogy): A Novel. If you have time, I strongly recommend re-reading (or listening to the audiobooks) the first two books before starting this book. I know that is a lot of reading — these books are big time commitments to read — but I wish I had made time to at least skim through them. The reason for revisiting the first two books is because it has been so long since The Twelve came out and I had not only forgotten a lot of the details of what happened in the first two books, but more importantly I had lost my emotional connection to the characters. This meant it took me a long time to get invested in what was happening.

I have a warning for the fans of this trilogy who love the parts where the characters are fighting the virals/dracs and who didn’t really care for the parts of the previous books that were more background or emotional — you might have a hard time with the first couple hundred pages of this book.

The book starts with a prologue that is a summary of what happened in The Twelve in the form of passages from a “historical book” presented at one of the global conferences on the North American Quarantine Period that have been a part of all the books. This helped a little in reminding me what happened but not nearly as much as if I had re-read the books. Then the book starts with a section on what Alicia did after the end of The Twelve, jumps three years to Texas, where most of the characters are living in what they believe to be a post-virals world. Then the story jumps back to Alicia where the reader learns the background of Zero/Fanning. I don’t want to go into any details because I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone.

Fanning’s story is a significant chunk of the first half of the book. Readers who are anxious for viral-fighting action might be inclined to skip over it, but don’t give in to the temptation. (I am a notorious skipper and in fact succumbed once again, only going back to Fanning’s story after I got a preview of what was coming ahead. Don’t be like me or you will spoil the book for yourselves.) Fanning’s story lays out the overall theme of the book and all the rest of the “background” parts of the story further embellish the theme as well as setting up the characters for what is to come.

I have always described these books as epic literary vampire thrillers and the first half of this book definitely puts the capital “L” in literary. Even when I was impatient at the pace, the lovely quality of the writing captivated me. It is not for nothing that the author is a literature professor — he can write!

The author may also be a fan of classic vampire movies. There are a couple visual references to the classic Dracula and Nosferatu movies that I really enjoyed.

It takes around 250 pages before the action starts heating up, but threads from those first couple hundred pages will wind their way through the rest of the book so don’t just blow through them to get to the action! It took me more than a week to read the first half of the book and only two days to finish the last half.

By the last major section of the book, I was back completely emotionally invested in these characters and everything they had been living through. That emotional connection had me tearing up numerous times over the last hundred or so pages — and flat out bawling my eyes out as many more times.

The overarching theme of this book is love — which seems strange for an epic literary vampire thriller. All different kinds of love (or the lack of love) wind their way through the book. Romantic love, unrequited love, familial love, and the love of long-time friends. That depth takes this from being just another thriller to being something truly special.

I recommend reading this whole trilogy. Read it even if you don’t think you like vampire novels because it is just that good.

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