The problem with a book that has its release date pushed back as often as The City of Mirrors, the third book in Justin Cronin’s The Passage Trilogy, is that expectations naturally run very, very high. Anticipation builds, disappointment is rife with every setback and fans will fall into two camps, those who re-read the first two books in anticipation with every release date, and those who will just try and hope the characters were memorable enough for them to enjoy the book a few years on.
For those reading The City of Mirrors after a few years hiatus, get ready to be a little disappointed. I could remember the basic plot points of The Passage and The Twelve, but the details and characters were a little lost on me. There is very little individual development in this book and it relies heavily on a good knowledge of the books that came before; which is why the years between release really did this novel a disservice. I might have enjoyed it more had I re-read the first two, but I guess now I’ll never know. Ultimately The City of Mirrors was quite a major disappointment.
The main issue I had with The City of Mirrors was that everything was just so…convenient. Backstory was told in long exposition, characters found happy endings (deserved or not) through lengthy and numerous dream scenes, there was an element of the fantastical/supernatural which served to conveniently drive the integral plot forward, and for the first time ever we had a stereotyped vampire character, rather than the unique virals of the series. There was also a lot less of the time jumping and found documents that made the first two novels so fascinating. It really felt like Cronin was just conveniently trying to tie up loose ends, which he certainly did, but it just didn’t make for the riveting reading I was so desperately hoping for.
The one bit of The City of Mirrors that did stand out for me, however, was the epilogue. It introduced new characters with surprising depth and returned to the tried and true formula of found documents intertwined with the narrative. If the epilogue had been peppered throughout the novel, the same way that the time jumps were used in the first two novels, I think it would have been a far more interesting read. Even Fanning’s backstory, for which we waited so eagerly, could have benefited from some of the same treatment. In the epilogue, I saw what the novel should have been but failed to deliver.
If you’ve read the rest of The Passage Trilogy it’s definitely worth picking up The City of Mirrors. The story ends in a satisfactory way and rounds out the plot which will make every completionist happy. For a book that took this long to come out though I definitely expected a little bit more.