The City of Mirrors

June 20, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

mirrorsThe City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

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It’s funny. When I started reading this book, I had the same reservations I had when I started reading The Twelve. I remembered liking The Passage well enough, but feeling like it became a slog before the halfway point, and I was concerned that I would have the same response to these. The Twelve surprised me by being a better book than The Passage, and now with The City of Mirrors, I find myself tearing through it like I’m reading a beach read, when this is anything but.

Cronin finishes his epic story of survival in a post-apocalyptic world of vampires with The City of Mirrors. Readers of the first two books likely need no encouragement to read this one, too, and any summary I try to write for people who haven’t read the first two books will just spoil those books, so I’ll avoid any specifics. Know that the story picks up more or less immediately after the events of The Twelve, and for those readers who, like me, have less recall on what happened in that book, Cronin includes an introduction to give us an overview.

Like the two previous books, The City of Mirrrors is chock-full of characters. Even the principal characters are numerous, making it easy for me to get lost among them all. Making it worse is getting back up to speed on a story that’s three years old, but I found it easier to keep up with and get used to it than I could with other books. The story isn’t as complex as the previous books, and it’s not as sprawling, but there are enough locations and characters that whenever the point of view shifted, I had to refocus myself and remember who was who and what was where. It’s not a fault of the author so much as it my expectations from a book, but it was somewhat troublesome.

But then there’s chapter two. At first, I was irritated that it was a lengthy aside, since it took us back and told us the story of Zero before he turned, but later, I was so hooked on the story that I couldn’t put the book down until I finished it. The entire chapter could be its own novella, and part of me wonders if it started out that way. It has its own internal characters and plot, and a slew of characters, all of whom — even the secondary characters — are fully realized. And it’s powerful. It reminds me of the opening chapters of The Passage where Cronin got me to care about his characters in such a short amount of time. He does it again with chapter two, and it highlights his skills as a storyteller.

Ultimately, the story isn’t perfect, but Cronin’s writing skills are. Fans of literary fiction would likely enjoy the series, as he puts most of his effort into his characters; fans of genre fiction would like the new mythology Cronin creates around his vampires; and fans of action stories would like how Cronin pulls you into the story and keeps you engrossed, even as his style is loftier and more poetic than your typical beach read. It’s an odd series that has something for just about any reader, which can’t be said for most books.

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