Ɗẳɳ 2.☊'s Reviews > The City of Mirrors

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
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it was ok
bookshelves: urban-fantasy, apocalyptic, horror


All right before I get to it, I should probably preface this review with an apology. By failing to reread the first two books prior to starting this one, I’m sure to have done this book a grave disservice. Especially considering it’s been more than three years since I last visited this series. But in my defense, the combined page count of said books is a staggering 1,300 some-odd pages! I fear my feeble arms (not to mention my feeble mind) just weren’t up for the challenge.

Now for the review, I’ll attempt to pull off an anti-Cronin here and keep it concise with only minor spoilers.

It’s been a few years since the killing of The Twelve, and no one’s seen hide nor hair of a viral ever since. Humanity is starting to believe that the horrible terror may finally be over. As the population increases, they begin to let their guard down and branch out from the safety and security of the city walls and lights to establish new colonies and trade routes.

The Human Race is once again atop the food chain, and everything is slowing returning to a state of normalcy.

Alicia knows better. As part viral, she’s mentally tethered to her maker, and she’s recently began to hear his voice calling her home. So she forges a weapon and prepares for battle. She’ll make that long journey in a foolish attempt to put an end the threat once and for all.

Lucius and Michael know better. Although everyone believes Amy to have died with The Twelve, Lucius has secretly been in contact with her all along. She’s warned him there’s an imminent threat of danger, so Michael does what Michael does best. He gets to work on a solution.

Zero is the atop the food chain, and look who’s playing the long game.

The Twelve were but pawns in the grand scheme of things. Everything’s going according to schedule, and the endgame is nearly upon us. Humanity doesn’t stand a chance—they’ve yet to realize they’re nearing the brink of extinction.

Does Peter really believe he can play the hero once again? Take Murtaugh’s words to heart, buddy: “You’re getting too old for this shit.”

So, maybe I’ve piqued your interest, but you notice my low rating and you’re confused and wondering, “Where’s the beef?” Ah, thanks for asking! I was starting to feel a bit peckish, however, this steak has . . .

– Too much gristle – While we wait for that final ax to fall, Zero decides to lay out his motivation for ending the world. Which means we get to read through a massive wedge of a backstory that runs the gamut from adolescences, to the end of high school, to his college years, and friendships, and parties, and romances, and lost loves, and funerals, and graduation, and grad school, and research, and professorship, and on and on it goes, through becoming patient zero, and his ultimate escape, and manipulation of The Twelve, and how it all comes full circle, and yada, yada, yada.

While I was initially interested in some of that backstory, it ultimately became overwhelming.

– Pass the Soylent Green – Cronin seemed overly concerned with humanizing every character. Even the most unforgivable of sins are rationalized away. He’s also heavy-handed with his preachy message, which grew wearisome. Just get to the action already.

– Mmm, BBQ Bologna – Too many dream sequences, for my taste. Nearly every scene with Amy and Carter or Amy and Peter occurred in this otherworldly dream landscape. I know this was done in the other books, but here, once again, it just felt overused.

– Burnt Ends are tasty, but I’m already stuffed – A three chapter, 50-page epilogue, with all new characters, and backstories, and more parties to attend, and drama, drama, drama. Wow, you really don’t know when to stop, do you?

– Party Foul – However the most egregious sin of all was (view spoiler)

☠ Last word – Look, I’m happy to finally be able to put a bow on the entire series, and it was nice to see Cronin tie up all the loose ends. And although I do enjoy the occasional meat platter, I’m sorry but I’m no Joey Chestnut.

2.5 Stars: Pass the tums

I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
-------Pre-review Nonsense-------

What the? Holy Shit, approved! But they never approve me for anything?

Sweet! I think my day just took a Jack Black turn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWdnt...
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Reading Progress

April 11, 2016 – Shelved
April 11, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
April 19, 2016 – Started Reading
April 19, 2016 –
5.0% "Hey hey, into chapter 3 or location 561 of 11441, whatever the hell that means. Stupid Kindle App.\n \n It's been three years since I read the last book. Slowly but surely, all those threads and character arcs are coming back to me."
April 22, 2016 –
17.0% "“I was the dark flower of mankind, ordained since time’s beginning to destroy a world that had no God to love it. \n From one, we became Twelve…From my blood the ancient seed was taken and passed into others.”"
April 25, 2016 –
40.0% "Wow! Stephen King ain't got nothing on you, Mr. Cronin. That part II was one hell of a long digression. And I'm sad to report, so far there has been very little action. I hope things start to pick up soon."
April 26, 2016 –
44.0% "Thus the long-awaited day...Shall the creator be moved to pity his creation? Soon we will know. The stage is set, the lights go down, the actors take their marks.\n Let it begin.\n \n "
May 2, 2016 –
80.0% "Never mind Alicia’s warnings not to underestimate their adversary. Never mind that the street was suspiciously carpeted in vines…Never mind the faint sound of rustling, which might have been caused by rats but wasn’t…One careless moment was all it took…Peter and Amy never even saw them coming."
May 4, 2016 –
94.0% "Good God, man, can you STFU already? How much longer can this story possibly drag out? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ3bP..."
May 4, 2016 – Shelved as: urban-fantasy
May 4, 2016 – Shelved as: apocalyptic
May 4, 2016 – Shelved as: horror
May 4, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-47 of 47 (47 new)

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Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)* That image amazes me!! Congrats, 2.0!

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ Thanks. I'm still a bit shocked they'd approve me for such a popular book. Who knows, maybe they're approving everyone.

That's another Skottie Young image, btw. Love that guy.

Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)* Oh, I thought it might be! It's stylistically similar to your profile picture that we discussed before.

Kaora Lucky! Ill be waiting to see what you think.

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ It's been so long since I've read the first two books, I hope I can jump back into the story.

Kaora I am rereading book one when this comes out. I never read two because of the huge delay in releases.

Alissa Patrick omg so jealous!! Hope it's good!

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ Kaora wrote: "I am rereading book one when this comes out. I never read two because of the huge delay in releases."

Ah, that's probably the smart way to go. Although you'll be looking at a massive wedge of story to wade through. I really enjoyed both books. I don't recall why my rating for the second was lower. My only issues were the simplistic writing, and the skipping over of huge amounts of time. Overall though it's a pretty cool mashup of vampire-apocalyptic-scifi-horror.

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ Alissa wrote: "omg so jealous!! Hope it's good!"

;) Me too. I'm jumping this one right to the top of my tbr!

Kaora Massive wedge of story? Your talking to the crazy who is working through Malazan AND Robert Jordan at the same time. Ha!

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ Wow! Impressive indeed. More power to you then. :)

message 12: by carol. (new)

carol. Congrats on the arc!

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ Thanks, Carol. I'm starting to get into the swing of this now, but I definitely would have benefited from more of a recap.

message 14: by Cathryn (new) - added it

Cathryn Awesome! Can't wait to hear what you think of this. I loved the first 2. Starting my reread of book 1 tomorrow.

message 15: by Morgannah (new)

Morgannah I have only read book 1, I will wait to see what you think of this one before I decide to move on with books 2 then 3.

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ From what I remember of book 2, there was a lot to like, but this one, I just don't know. I've enjoyed some of it, but overall it's just wearing me out.

message 17: by Ginger (new)

Ginger The best kind of 'turn' a day can take ;)

Shelby *trains flying monkeys* Ɗắɳ 2.☠ wrote: "From what I remember of book 2, there was a lot to like, but this one, I just don't know. I've enjoyed some of it, but overall it's just wearing me out."

Did you give up on it?

message 19: by Edward (new)

Edward Lorn Glad I abandoned ship. Great review as usual, Dan.

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ Thanks, Ed. Yeah, I suppose the series was just too much of a good thing.

message 21: by carol. (new)

carol. I wasn't sure anything could make me want to read it less, but the meat tornado imagery might have done the trick.

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ Carol. wrote: "I wasn't sure anything could make me want to read it less, but the meat tornado imagery might have done the trick."

Heh. Sorry, I was channeling my inner Ron Swanson there.

✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans) I was supposed to buddy read The Passage two months ago. I lasted two pages. Haha. I wanted to give it another try, but given your fabulous rating for this one, I'm not sure I should bother.

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ All of two pages, eh? That may be a new record. I actually enjoyed the first two books. As you can see by my pre-review nonsense, I was pretty excited to get my grabby hands on this one. Besides the books being extremely long-winded, where he failed me was in all his attempts to elevate, what's essentially a monster story, into the realms of literary fiction. His message came across a little too heavy handed and preachy for my taste.

message 25: by Ryan (new) - added it

Ryan Dan, would you recommend rereading Passage and 12? It's been 2 years since I finished them.

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ It would definitely be helpful, Ryan, but, as I mentioned in my review, it's a rather tall order. Cronin does provide a brief prologue, in the form of conference notes, which recaps some of the previous events. That helps a bit, but what I did is hunt down the Wikipedia write-ups for the previous books. Those are much more helpful, and there's also one that just details the individual character arcs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...

message 27: by Ryan (new) - added it

Ryan Thanks Dan!

message 28: by Ron (last edited Jun 27, 2016 12:00PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ron Yeah, I decided that I needed to reread at least the first one, not to recall the events, but to reconnect emotionally with the characters. In fact, after racing through The Passage, I opted to read the entire trilogy, back to back to back.

Zoeytron I didn't reread the first two volumes, either, and suspect it would have made this one a better read if I had. In my dotage, there remains only so much time, and I chose not to spend it that way. Loved your meaty review!

message 30: by Morgannah (new)

Morgannah So glad you did the heavy lifting in this one for me! I believe I will stop with book one. Thank you Dan, you The Man!

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ Thanks, Zoeytron. I agree, that was more of a time commitment than I was willing to make.

No problem, Morgannah. I actually enjoyed the first two, and parts of this one, but I felt like all could be trimmed down a bit.

message 32: by Marion (new)

Marion Husband Totally agree with this review, but would have given this novel 1 star it is so boring and rambling and totally incoherent...I lenjoyed the first novel in the series but the 2nd wasn't as good and this one is much, much worse. Very sentimental and all the characters are very samey, especially the males.

message 33: by Adam (new) - rated it 3 stars


Thanks for the negative review. Glad to see I'm not the only one disappointed.

This one got too mawkish, sentimental and unrealistic.

Still, I did enjoy it. Just disappointed that so much vast genre bending potential turned into a cliché ridden, McGuffin led let down.

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ Thanks, Marion.

No problem, Adam. I'm sure they'll be plenty of people disappointed with the finale when all is said and done.

Tanya Forsberg Definitely the weakest of the three. The whole Fanning backstory seriously almost lost me. Added at least two week to my reading time. Once I got through that section, I managed to finish the book, but man, it just kept going. I think I'll need to re-read The Passage just to remind myself why I loved it in the first place.

message 36: by Ɗẳɳ 2.☊ (last edited Sep 04, 2016 09:36AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ That backstory was extremely bloated. But even if that was greatly reduced, I'd still agree this story was easily the weakest of the three.

message 37: by Tim (new)

Tim Hunter Thank you now I do not have to review it I would have given it one star I thought the ending was terrible and there was too much bloviating all throughout the book it didn't appear to me that the same author wrote the third one as did the first two spoiler alert, the Americans win gold in the swimming pool, but let's break down the badminton games play by play.

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ If I would have read it as a standalone, I probably would have rated it lower, or even DNFed it. However, being the third book in a series, I was invested enough in his characters by then to overlook some of my annoyances.

Joanna This perfectly sums up how I felt about it

message 40: by Anji (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anji Dan I have to agree, whilst I did enjoy reading about Fanning and developed some empathy for the man, I felt that this could have actually been a standalone novel in it's own right. I felt that the epilogue was too longwinded and I couldn't really identify with the characters because we had no idea of their lineage ie. were they directly descended from Pim and Caleb. What was the significance of the lifeboat that Pim found? What became of Michael? I felt that time could have been given to writing about life on the island, rather than wittering on about a character we weren't really going to get to know anyway.

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ I think Cronin painted himself into a corner, by including those conference notes in the other books. Then felt some obligation to finally flesh out a few of those characters in the epilogue of the finale. Otherwise the entire thing could have been wrapped up in a few pages.

I'm with you though, I would have much rather read a few more pages about life on the island, or what became of Michael.

message 42: by Jeff (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jeff This review sums up my feelings perfectly! I loves the first two books so I stuck with it hoping it would improve after Fanning’s backstory but alas not not enough. In addition to the happy ending, I couldn’t believe all of the fortuitous things that happened just at the right time in this book. Such a disappointment. I also agree that maybe if I had read this closer to the other two books it might have been a better experience.

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ Cheers, Jeff. I hope you have better luck with your next book.

message 44: by Andy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Andy That's it. Well done.

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ Thanks, Andy.

message 46: by Andy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Andy Ɗẳɳ 2.☊ wrote: "Thanks, Andy."

Last night I finished "The City of Mirrors" and I'm completely with you.

Melissa 100% agree! The book felt disjointed and it went on and on and on...

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