The City of Mirrors (The Passage Trilogy #3)
by Justin Cronin
Review by Wes Breazeale
Ballantine Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345505002
Date: 24 May 2016 List Price $28.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Justin Cronin burst into public awareness in 2010 with the release of his novel The Passage, an intriguing, if occasionally meandering, take on a post vampire-apocalypse world. The Passage was well received by readers and reviewers alike, and led to two follow up books – The Twelve (2012) and now, only four years later, The City of Mirrors.
Readers will be forgiven if they've forgotten a bit about what happened in the prior volumes if they read them at the time of publication. Fortunately, Cronin provides something of a refresher via a historical document from 1000 years in the future. This is definitely in line with his previous update approach, as well as his penchant for being rather freewheeling with timelines. While The Twelve jumped around to multiple different times before, during, and after the viral outbreak, The City of Mirrors takes place largely during the present (90-something years in the future present, that is), though Cronin can't help but have several time-shifting sections.
The City of Mirrors picks up three years after the events in The Twelve, allowing Cronin to renew readers' acquaintance with the characters from the prior books, including Alicia, Peter, Lucius, Michael, Sara, and Amy. But after just a chapter or so allocated to each, Cronin then jumps ahead 22 years, allowing him to focus on how society rebuilds after near extinction.
Believing all of the virals to have been destroyed, civilization is flourishing in and around the walled city of Kerville, Texas. The survivors have spread out and the younger generation no longer remembers living in fear. But perhaps they should, for there is one threat left, the original threat--Zero, alone in the ruins of New York City plotting his vengeance. Cronin takes the time to really delve into Zero's story, delivering a 100 page flashback that reads almost like a separate novella and paints a fascinating story of how it all began.
The City of Mirrors is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy that highlights both Cronin's strengths and weaknesses. His ability to draw readers in with detailed descriptions and fantastically scripted action sequences is at times overwhelmed by his tendency to take too long to get to where he's going. And while his dialog can be sharp, crisp and occasionally amusing, his monologues and asides suffer from an occasional lack of focus. This doesn't ultimately detract from the overall impact, and fans of the first two books should be quite pleased with the finale. They may just wish they'd gotten there just a wee bit sooner.