The City of Mirrors
Author: Justin Cronin
The City of Mirrors is the last book of Cronin’s Passage Trilogy and despite having a couple of things that usually drive me nuts I thought it was a fitting end to the series and I really enjoyed the story. Both this book and as a whole.
(Some possible spoilers for the first books…)
The trilogy tells the story of a virus unleashed on mankind that can turn people in “virals.” Basically vampire like monsters. It’s a whole let’s wipe out humanity while trying to save it kind of thing. As a last ditch effort to contain the virus it’s injected into a child called Amy NLN (no last name). The first book is much the quest to save Amy and survive the end. In the second book (The Twelve) many, many years later Amy meets the group of characters who become instrumental in her life and the quest to defeat the virals.
City of Mirrors picks up after an event in the end of that book that leaves the humans with a sense of relative safety. Are the monsters gone? They begin to start over for real. Only to find that the biggest showdown is waiting in the shadows.
All three of these books really reminded me of The Stand and, in some ways, A Song of Ice and Fire or even Lord of the Rings. Epic quests. Good versus evil. The grey characters. The good and the dark heart of man. Like a lot of post-apocalytpic literature (including the recently concluded 5th Wave series) the main question becomes- Is humanity even worth saving if we have to sacrifice what makes us human?
The City of Mirrors is a good character book in part because it goes so in-depth. I actually found myself falling back in with the characters fairly easily. I remembered them. I liked them and felt for them. Some of the characters you meet in the second book are now fighting for the lives of their grown children and grandchildren.
Amy and Alicia were especially standouts to me. If this ever gets made into a movie here are two great parts for actresses. They made me cry more than once in the book.
Possibly the whole trilogy could have used an editor in places. The first half of this one starts off slow but interesting. Makes you feel some sympathy for the head monster. Some. But in a book like this I’m always waiting for the action to get going and when it did, about the halfway point, it sailed through to the end.
Then again, speaking of the ending, it had about six of them and the last one was the longest and least necessary in my opinion. The only thing I liked about it was the inclusion of a picture that kind of wraps things up very nicely but that also makes me think they could have just used the picture.
On a personal note this story appeals to me because of its questions of mortality and the use of time. It’s just something that’s always fascinated me. Amy, like the other infected, does not have anything like a normal life span. We get a time jump of about two decades in this book (larger in other books) and while you get the impression it goes very fast for the humans others like Amy, Alicia and Carter seem absolutely stuck in an empty world or a nightmare depending on your mileage.
Would you want to live forever if it meant a life full of pain and misery? Could you do it? Would you be willing to trap yourself in the memory of what was especially if that’s all that exists? The idea of time and people’s desire to beat it is something that I find interesting so it made certain elements of the book more moving and appealing to me. Really following the characters through so much of their lives. They struggled to live and survive and at a certain point I just wanted almost all of them to be able to give up the ghost and find peace.
But I generally just digressed big time.
The City of Mirrors wrapped up very nicely overall. There were some bumps but I loved the characters and enjoyed the ride. It really should be a movie!
Recommend: Yes- especially of you are into stories like The Stand. They are big novels but they read very quickly for me.