The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin, published by Ballantine Books, anticipated publication date is May 24, 2016. I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
A few things to know about The City of Mirrors. 1) This is the third book in Cronin’s The Passage trilogy. 2) Even with a clever prologue that neatly captures major plot points from the previous novels, you really do need to read the previous books first. In retrospect, I wished I’d had time to reread the prior two novels before launching into The City of Mirrors. I brushed up on major plot points via the interwebz, but I’m sure there were some subtleties that were lost on me.
This book. Wow. I devoured (hahaha) it. Like most fans, I’ve been looking forward to the third installment for several years. The Passage trilogy is a sprawling (yet focused) post-apocalyptic epic detailing the near-destruction of humanity following the outbreak of a viral infection that turns most of humanity into vampiric creatures. There’s a cast of hundreds yet the novels – including The City of Mirrors – are surprisingly intimate.
Going into the third installment of any beloved series, the question is always, “Does it measure up?” For me, the answer was yes. The novel is epic and showcases some extraordinary writing. There were times – notably during a lengthy flashback – where I thought, “This shouldn’t work. I should be bored out of my mind and not caring at all about this particular character’s lengthy backstory.” But it totally worked, in part because that flashback forms the emotional core of the novel.
Sure, I had quibbles. Cronin maybe suffers a bit from the same affliction that keeps George R. R. Martin from killing off characters in his later novels. I’m not sure I connected with the younger generation of characters the way I did with Peter, Alicia and the rest. I could have used a few more details about what happens after….well, after that thing that happens near the end. And, much like end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I’m still on the fence about the epilogue.
Still, I’m comparing Cronin to Martin & Rowling. Sure, it’s to some of their flaws, but it still makes Cronin kissing cousins with the others. (And isn’t that fun image?) In short, I loved the book.