I feel incredibly uncomfortable doing anything but rave about popular books. It always leaves me feeling like I've missed something that others have so obviously loved. Either that or it makes me feel like a total curmudgeon who hates popular things strictly because they are popular.
So here's the confused curmudgeon saying I didn't love this series, at least not to the degree that its acclaim would seem to deserve. I generally liked the series as a whole. If you're a fan of post-apocalyptic vampire stories, then these books are worth the read. But then again, if you love this type of book, you've probably already read this series given the mass acclaim. If dystopian stories or vampire stories fall outside your comfort zone these books probably aren't worth your time. Also, if books that span long periods of time and jump through time bother you, steer clear of this series. The whole series spans hundreds of years.
I had previously read both The Passage and The Twelve, and generally remembered liking them. It was long enough ago that I decided I should re-read them before taking on The City of Mirrors. I'm glad I did, because I had definitely forgotten the details of the first two books and those details definitely play in The City of Mirrors.
An amusing side-note, there were several times when plot points I had been expecting didn't materialize in The Passage and I would turn to Danielle and say "such and such happened in The Stand didn't it?" In each case, the answer was yes.
It's hard not to think about The Stand while reading The Passage. There's the "The XYZ" format of the titles of course. And the dystopian tale of humanity gone wrong. But most of all they both try to manage storylines of huge scope. In my opinion, The Passage doesn't manage its scope anywhere near as well as The Stand. By the time you factor in the entire arc of all three books, the scope management problem is huge.
I think scope management is the crux of the problem that I had with the whole series. It either could have been many more books dealing with shorter arcs, telling the stories of characters whose paths never overlapped or it could have been a single, much compressed book that focused the whole storyline. I think I would have enjoyed either option much more than the three-book series.
I enjoyed The Twelve the most of the three. The story arcs in the book, felt like they had purpose and ran on a coherent arc. There are storylines and characters who don't get to live up to their full potential, but overall this book pulled me in and I enjoyed reading it.
The City of Mirrors was the weakest book of the series. Characters change to a degree that seem to violate the continuity of the overall series. I mean, people change, that's a thing, but it's infrequent that their core motivators change.
The ending? It felt rushed. There's a tipping point in the book where it just feels like the author said, "Shit, I'm running out of time, I've got to get this ended." and everything starts compressing to a conclusion. The first half, in part, tells the story of a character who has only been an actor from the shadows. It's one of those cases where there's a strong novella stuck in the middle a novel, but it doesn't leave enough room for the rest of the story. It also kind of didn't matter to the resolution of the story, it develops the character, but not in a way that shapes the story. The primary thing that I felt in the end was a wish for a better resolution to the story.
So you're probably saying to yourself, "He said at the beginning that this was worth reading, but he's totally crapping on the last book, sup with that?"
Ah yes, dear reader, you are correct. I am definitely crapping on the last book, but I would still recommend the series for people who enjoy the genre. And I'm being hard on the last book because the first two books made me care about the characters and the world and I wanted a better conclusion to the story.
The last book could have been better, but maybe you will find it suits you better than it suited me. It does, for the most part, successfully resolve the series. The resolution is of a sort leaves room for other, related books, so this may not be the last we've heard of this parallel version of our world.
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