The City of Mirrors – An Exciting End to the Passage Trilogy (Book Review)

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The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin is the amazing conclusion to The Passage trilogy, an apocalyptic (and post-apocalyptic) sci-fi horror series. The story begins with The Passage, continues with The Twelve, and comes to its completion in this novel.

In The Passage, readers witness the downfall of humanity when an experiment conducted on twelve death row inmates turns disastrous. The inmates were turned into “virals,” monstrous vampire-like creatures, who eventually escape the facility they are being kept in. The virals quickly slaughter the majority of the population, infecting one person for every ten killed, and force the survivors into small, protected communities. Many different characters are introduced, both from the time before the virals and many years after. The book also delves into the story of the first of the original Twelve virals. The Twelve focuses on the remaining Twelve, and the efforts made to destroy them. The storylines of the main characters from The Passage are continued, and more characters are brought in.

The City of Mirrors, after briefly catching up with the main characters, finally explores the backstory of Zero. Zero (as in “patient zero”) was the first person to contract the virus that turns people into virals. He is the main villain of this book, and the last one who needs to be defeated in order for humanity to no longer live as prey. Interestingly, Cronin indicates Zero’s POV by switching to first person, while the rest of the characters are written in third person. Zero has a plan, which is not completely clear to the readers until it is in full swing. After a couple hundred pages of limited action, where the characters are lulled into the false belief that the virals are finally gone, the novel abruptly becomes filled with action and bloodshed. After witnessing this carnage and the actions taken to save the remaining survivors, several of the most major characters take on the task of defeating Zero. There is an epic fight in New York City (the “City of Mirrors”), and at last the journey of the main characters is at an end. A rather lengthy epilogue that takes place a thousand years after the virals first took over wraps up both the book and the series.

Personally, I absolutely loved both this book and the trilogy as a whole. Even though The Passage remains my favorite of the three, The City of Mirrors is a close second. While the series is rather long, I felt that it was definitely worth my time. It was both gripping and beautifully written. Unfortunately, the beginning of this book was a little slow. There isn’t a whole lot of action until around page 300, although we do hear the backstory of Zero during that time. There are also several occurrences that set up the next part and keep the reader’s anticipation up. From Part IV “Zero Hour” on the plot really picks up, to the point where I read the rest of the book in a few days.

There are a rather overwhelming number of characters in this series, and every book keeps adding (and killing off) more. Many of them get developed backgrounds, which serves to deepen their character as well as weave all the stories together. It can sometimes be a challenge to remember who everyone is and what their relationships are with the other characters. As such, it is difficult to read these books with large gaps of time in between (I had to reread the first two books before I could jump into this one, or I would have been rather lost). However, I did not mind having to read all the books in succession because it made it easier to see how masterfully all the plotlines are connected. Seemingly minor characters from the first book, such as Zero, become much more important in the other novels. Others are present from the start to the finish, like Amy, who’s entire story spans over a thousand years and is interwoven with many of the other characters’. Even though the point of view switches between different characters and the plot hops back and forth through time (which can be somewhat confusing at times), everything in this book is connected in some way. This is not a light read, but it is a captivating one.

In general, I quite enjoyed The City of Mirrors. It is a satisfying conclusion to a wonderful series, and it was nice to see how each character’s story ends. Cronin does a good job developing his numerous characters and building an extensive timeline of exciting events. It’s not terribly frightening, but some parts can be a bit creepy and/or gory, so I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who doesn’t enjoy that kind of thing. This book (and series) has exciting, complex storylines with interesting characters. I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in apocalyptic storylines, or people who like sci-fi and fantasy elements. However, this book would probably be very confusing to someone who has not read the first two books of the series, so it would be best to start with The Passage.

The City of Mirrors

Justin Cronin

598 pages. Published by Ballantine Books. $18.63 (Hardcover), $10.78 (Paperback), $14.88 (Kindle) on Amazon.

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