“The Passage Trilogy: The City of Mirrors” by Justin Cronin

They say that there is always something that makes you laugh, cry and smile and the same time. For me, it was this book. This book was like every season soared past me in a flash of a blink. I could never bring myself to put it down, to stop reading it because my subconsciousness had guessed what was going to happen next but my consciousness always proved it wrong. This was the first book that I read of Justin Cronin and it blew me off. Everything of literary importance was in it, not in a jumbled way but everything was placed neatly at every milestone like a puzzle that perfectly fits.

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The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

This book has stayed with me till now for a really long time. It actually never really got out of my mind. I have quite a story about how I read it because it is one long book. I stayed with this artwork for a long time and it stayed with me. Before I get into more details and explanations of this book and the Trilogy, I just want to say that this blog is on this book and my experience with it so before you actually read it be cautious that there is going to be a lot of my perspectives so don’t be offended.

The Author, Plot and More Information

The City of Mirrors is the final book of the Passage Trilogy which consists of the following books:

  1. The Passage
  2. The Twelve
  3. The City of Mirrors

Now before you guys judge me, I haven’t read the two previous books of the trilogy because my fate stumbled upon the last book eventually but I am going to read the previous two in due time. However that is the beauty of this book that even though I haven’t read the two former books, I got a very good description or evaluation of characters and the plot and their past which has now come to haunt them.

Back to the book, its author is of course Justin Cronin whom I mistook as Justin Crown the first time I actually read his name but that was my mistake. He is an American author who has written five books in total.

  1. The Summer Guest
  2.  Mary and O’Neil
  3. The Passage
  4. The Twelve
  5. The City of Mirrors

This was the first book I read of his and as I said my hand just stumbled across his book in the aisle in that book store and somehow I bought his book like I buy every other book but then as they also say, you never know the worth of you choices until you see the future reflect it. The plot of the book is quite interesting and even though the genre of the book was supposed to be horror and thriller, I found it more thrilling than horrifying probably because I’ve read a lot of horror books and seen a lot of horror movies. Anyways the thrill of the story was ever-present and there are many great things to say but before I get to that, I have to tell you the facts.

The following information is taken from Justin Cronin’s official website, enterthepassage.com. The Passage, the first book of the trilogy was published in 2010 where it was included in a lot of “Best of the Year” lists and it did receive a lot of awards. Apart from all that, the trilogy was concluded by The City of Mirrors published in 2016.

The main plot or the synopsis of the book as perceived by my own understanding was that the virals (simply men who are converted into monsters) are back because Zero, The First and the Father of the Twelve is waiting to destroy Amy, The Girl from Nowhere. Briefly Amy and her friends they gather to bring an end to him and to save humanity. It is like the clash of two forces of course one right and one wrong but the beauty of it was this that it was actually quite difficult to decide which is right and which is wrong.

This was in fact the first book in which I was somewhat on the villain’s side who was Zero just because of his story. In the second chapter of the book Zero’s story is written and reading it just gives you so many emotions that you have to store and absorb and that just opens your eyes and your heart to how much despair one person can take. Before we get into my experience lets see the main characters.

These are the main characters:

  1. Timothy Fanning also known as Zero, Father of the Twelve
  2. Alicia Donadia also known as Alicia of Blades
  3. Amy Bellafonte Harper also known as The Girl from Nowhere
  4. Sara Wilson also known as Sara the Healer
  5. Hollis Wilson also known as Hollis the Strong
  6. Peter Jaxon also known as The Man of Days
  7. Caleb Jaxon 
  8. Lucius Greer also known as Lucius the Faithful
  9. Michael Fisher also known as Michael the Clever
  10. Anthony Carter also known as Carter the Sorrowful
  11. Lore DeVeer also known as Lore the Pilot
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The first chapter of The City of Mirrors.

My Experience and Review

Now when I first bought the book I was pretty excited to read it because I have read thrillers before and they always get me. I got this during my school year and I ended up being so busy that I couldn’t bring myself to start this book and then have to leave it due to my exams. However I did start reading it but I got through a few pages and decided that I would leave this book for the Summer Vacations.

When the summer holidays started I was quite thrilled to start it but it did take me a long time to finish reading it probably because I am a slow reader. However I ended up liking the book so much that I didn’t actually want it to end because I had become really familiar with the characters and I could feel them. This book was a big surprise for me because it changed a lot of my perception.

The first thing that I absolutely loved about it was the writing style of the writer. When you actually come to reading the book you feel as if the writer is quite open and frank when he is writing and that there is no formality involved and it feels as if you are a part of the story, a character in the story. The characters themselves are quite relatable and the fact that each one of them is connected simultaneously. The characters actually have depth in them and their titles give quite an insight on who they are and their role in the whole plot.

The writer has shown some serious professionalism with the characters, their stories and the way they are represented that when you read their roles you feel the difference as if they weren’t even written by the same person because they themselves are really divergent. Of course I mean this in a positive way because the writer has succeeded in including almost every genre and every type of sentiment in the book and its plot and its characters. You can actually feel that the writer has put in a lot of time, effort and thought into the characters, their background and their development over time and as the story progresses.

Another positive tenet is that, each chapter is written in such a different way that you actually get used to each genre and you just spend a lot of time jumping from one realm of the plot to the other learning about one character and then the other. However this does make it a little difficult for you to keep track of the story. The fact that the story itself has a lot of characters and each of them have their own importance, it makes it a little difficult for you to remember each character and since so much is going on at different places at the same time you do get a little confused. There were times when I would read a chapter where some other character would be mentioned and I would have to think a little harder about where he was mentioned or go through the previous pages. This is also because the book is quite lengthy so your mind keeps jumping from one place to another.

Regardless of this, another positive point was that you never know what to expect at the next moment because the synopsis itself changes after each chapter. More than that the aim of the story is changing at all times which actually astounds you when you’re actually reading it. Another great thing that I liked about the story was that there was actually a whole story of who the villain is and how he became a villain. Not just that he was a psychological and mentally retarded human that turned out to be a viral and attacked humanity. There was a whole background to him and his character and there was a solid reason for his villainy.

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The starting lines that I am in love with.

More than that the whole story has this phenomenon as if all the sentiments in the world was in one place where each one of them actually fits in the whole puzzle piece. I also really liked the fact that lines and statements of unfathomable depths are used to express minimal things which actually turn out to be of intense importance.

My Favourite Lines From the Whole Book

Here are a few lines from the book The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin that have stayed with me:

(P.S. All of these quotes/lines ARE from The City of Mirrors and they are written by Justin Cronin, I was just too lazy to write it besides every line.)

  • “Staying was not a conscious decision; the will to move on was simply absent.”
  • “Call Fanning and tell him that love is all that there is. And love is pain. And love is taken away.”
  • “All stories end when they have reached to their beginnings.”
  • “A lot of life, Michael had learned, came down to trying to fix things that weren’t fixable.” 
  • “The heart, once broken, stayed broken.”
  • “How wonderful to be read to. To be carried from this world and into another, born away on words.” 
  • “All things passed away. Even the earth itself, the sky and the river and the stars he loved, would, one day, come to the end of their existence. But it was not a thing to be feared; such was the bittersweet beauty of life.” 
  • “All things found their ends.” 
  • “I look, and what do I see? Man? Monster? Devil? A freak of cold nature or heaven’s cruel utensil? The first is intolerable to think, the second no less so. Who is the monster now?
  • “City of memories, city of mirrors. Am I alone? Yes and no. I am a man of many descendants. They lie hidden away.”
  • “Consider the species known as man. We lie, we cheat, we want what others have and take it; we make war upon each other and the earth; we harvest lives in multitudes. We have mortgaged the planet and spent the cash on trifles. We may have loved, but never well enough. We never truly ourselves. We forgot the world; now it has forgotten us.”

“I go abroad, into the streets of the empty city, always returning. I take my place upon the steps, beneath the inverted heavens. I watch the clock; its mournful faces stay the same. Time frozen at the moment of man’s departure, the last train exiting the station.”

– Justin Cronin, The City of Mirrors

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