"The City of Mirrors" by Justin Cronin
I've been holding off on this review for some time, not because I haven't wanted to write it, but I'm not really sure how to. This was the final book of a trilogy that took it's time.
And it needed to. This was not a series you wanted the author to rush. It needed to be perfect.
Sadly, I don't know anyone who has read it. I can't unleash my fanboy fervor and share my overwhelming joy, fear, sadness and more joy over this series.
I am sitting in the corner alone with this series. Writing a review for a final book in a trilogy no one I know has read almost feels silly.
So, if not for you, then for me.
For six years, this story has been a part of my life, and even if it's only been three books, my mind has returned to the characters and the story many times.
The first book, "The Passage" came out in 2010 and spanned 784 pages. The second book, "The Twelve" didn't come out until two years later with only 592 pages. The final installment snuck up on me this past summer (I expected its release during the fall) and lasted 624 pages.
Overall, Cronin poured his soul into 2,000 pages of a single story all because his daughter wanted a story about a girl who could save the world.
And save the world she did, with the help of so many other characters that I loved. Characters that hurt my heart. Characters I rooted for, and mourned with. Characters that were real and not real and then real again.
Oh, Cronin, I hope you write more stories like this. You found you powerhouse writing ability.
He mixed horror, suspense, and literary fiction in a way that elevated the story, making me forget where I was.
What Cronin has done in each book is devote about 200 pages to flashback. "The City of Mirrors" was no exception. This time, though, he took us to the heart of why and how this virus took place.
And it's a love story.
Why wouldn't one of mankind's most complicated affliction be the sole reason for 2,000 pages of story?
The protagonist's story is one of Harvard. He meets a young couple that includes him into their unit, and they become inseparable. The only problem is, he falls in love with the girl, and the guy is his best friend. The girl has cancer, and so her husband is always looking for the ultimate cure. The protagonist and the girl also fall in love years later, and when they are finally about to meet up and start their love story, she has passed away on a train on her way to him.
What happens next is the culprit of this entire world Cronin has created -- something so simple, an ugly complex reality is born from it.
The rest of the story takes place 20 years later -- so our main characters are in their 50s, and it's time to set off and face off against the final surviving "viral." And Cronin is not kind to the surviving characters. Blow after blow, they get back up and continue fighting or figuring out what it is they need to do to ensure the survival of the human race against the virus and its effects.
I will keep these books, and maybe some day I'll be able to reread all 2,000 pages again, and when I do, I will not be free from the heartbreak the books caused me, even if I know their comings. The books will catch my breath with the suspense, and I will plow through the all the pages again because these three books really are a fast read.
Well-written books often are.