12-21 by Dustin Thomason: Dot Points

Thomason, Dustin. 12-21. Melbourne: Penguin Group (Australia), 2012.

Initial Thoughts

I’ve never heard of this author, but the storyline sounds interesting, and the cover is all dark and mysterious, so I’m fairly confident that I’m going to enjoy this book. I love apocalyptic fiction, especially when it involves plagues and pandemics. Add in that this all takes place in 2012, and I’m almost guaranteed to crack it open. Not to mention the fact that, with the whole Covid19 thing going on, the theme of this book is highly relevant to the times. I’m really looking forward to reading this.

First Sentence (Prologue)

‘He stands silently in the moonlight against the wall of the temple, the small bundle held tightly under his arm.’1

First Sentence (Chapter 1)

‘Dr. Gabriel Stanton’s condo sat at the end of the boardwalk, before the Venice Beach footpath morphed into lush lawns where the tai chi lovers gathered.’2


The information about prions and some of the associated rare diseases is interesting.3


In Lak’ech: I am you, and you are me.4 What a beautiful sentiment!


Thomason poses an interesting ethical dilemma here. Is it okay for a curator to buy and preserve a looted codex in the full knowledge that the country which owns it will allow it to rot in a vault, losing precious knowledge for all time?5 I cannot categorically state that I would take the legal route here.


Mayan glyphs, 12-21 by Dustin Thomason, page 47.
Thomason has included images of Mayan glyphs in several places throughout the story, along with explanations and translations.6. I like this. It adds depth to the story.


I adore the ongoing translations of the codex. It’s like a story within a story.


Another ethical dilemma posed by Thomason. Is it okay to try untested treatments on patients who are going to die anyway, if the possibility exists that other lives may be saved? This reads like one of those dreadful ‘Greater Good’ scenarios I so abhor.7


‘This was something much more terrifying, which no one ever had to teach me to fear.’

Thomason, 12-21, 230.

Beautiful, emotive language!


Including maps and other images within the text lends a sense of realism to the story.8



Rating: 4 out of 5.

The writing in this book is good, not great, and the characters and tropes are a trifle cliché, but I enjoyed this book nonetheless. The combination of Mayan history and prion disease is unusual and the story-within-a-story provided by the gradual translations of the codex adds an extra level of interest. Overall, I would recommend this book to fans of apocalyptic fiction.

Related Posts:

Read in 2020 (Rafferty’s Rules)
Fatal Familial Insomnia (Kaahsh)
Scientists find where prion disease starts in eye (The Pluralist)

Pages: 1 2

Categories: Impressions

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3 replies


  1. Something Is Killing Me: FFS – Rafferty's Rules
  2. Prions — What Are They? (Video) – Rafferty's Rules
  3. Lost World of the Maya (Video) – Rafferty's Rules

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