In The Passage, book one of The Passage Trilogy, Justin Cronin showed us how the world would end. A group of scientists begin working with a rare virus from South America and dream of solving all illnesses and possibly death. Their work is taken over by the military, who secure the test-subjects, and all but one are death-row inmates. The exception is an abandoned six-year-old girl known as Amy NLN (NLN=no last name). They become known as the virals, who have almost all of the classic characteristics of a vampire. They drain their prey of blood and others they infect with a disease. They are incredibly strong, with formidable defenses and are nearly impossible to kill. When the virals escape the test facility in Colorado, no one is prepared. Despite the best efforts of world governments and the military, the world ends in a matter of months. One hundred years after the viral attack, Amy finds a group of human survivors living in an armored colony. While she now appears to be the age of a pre-adolescent, Amy is actually over one hundred years old, and has spent most of the last century alone. She leads a small group from “The Colony” out into the wreckage of the world and back to Colorado where they will find answers to their questions, and will be able to dream of a world without the virals.
In The Twelve, book two of the series, Cronin moves us both forward in time (twenty years after the events at the end of The Passage) and back to other events that were chronicled. In the past, he follows several individuals as they struggle to survive in a world suddenly filled with horrors they never would have imagined as real. In the future, Cronin shows how the individuals followed earlier in the book affected the world of Amy and others from The Colony as they uncover a microcosm of civilization that may hold the key to the virals’ destruction.
In City of Mirrors, Cronin completes the trilogy, taking readers further into the future to show how the virals are finally defeated and at what cost. Cronin again takes us into the past to explore the backgrounds of the people who destroyed the world, and how the tangled relationships of a small group of friends ultimately did this. He then leaps forward, further into the future to explore the lives of that first group of survivors who left The Colony with Amy, and how they will determine the world that humanity will live in for a thousand years. To say more about the plot here would be a major spolier. Suffice it to say that City of Mirrors is a near perfect conclusion to the trilogy started six years ago. There are unexpected deaths and unexpected survivals, and secrets are revealed. The characters will show courage, sacrifice, and a type of focus that readers will wish they could incorporate into their own lives. The ending though not a happy one, is pitch perfect after a long, difficult journey that is well worth the trip.
This book is on the Best of 2016: Fiction list.