Full 4 star-story. Just no 5 stars (like The Passage got from me), since it doesn't wholly match its predecessor. It's simply less epic, less horror, ...
Nevertheless, the storyline as it unfolded had me completely in its grip. You constantly feel you want to keep on reading and learning about the characters' (there's SO many of them!) futures, without really knowing what to expect next.
In the beginning I was a bit confused to be reading about year Zero again after which the book jumped 79 years and then 97 years in the future, where The Passage ended in year 92 (I think) of the new era.
Yet again however, Cronin manages to paint wonderful stories and emotions in just a few beautiful sentences. It's absolutely amazing how lively the images he describes get in your mind while going through this book. Smells, thoughts, visuals, sounds, ... he leaves nothing untouched.
When I started with the last chapter, I couldn't help myself hoping ferociously that it wouldn't end with such a crazy cliffhanger as the first book, even though I know now that there's a third book to follow. I'm happy that it didn't. There's a clear path set for the final book in this series, but at least this time I can wait in peace until it it published. :-)