Year One by Nora Roberts
Chronicles of the One #1
St. Martins Press | December 5, 2017
About the Book: It began on New Year’s Eve.
The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed–and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.
Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river–or in the ones you know and love the most.
As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.
In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.
The end has come. The beginning comes next.
Let’s be honest, I only bought this (in hardback) because I wanted to see how writing queen Nora Roberts handled Apocalyptic and Urban Fantasy. Could the queen of romance pull off dark UF? My answer to that question is possibly.
Year One had really interesting aspects, and I’m definitely intrigued by where this story is going and the intricate plot Ms Roberts imagined. Unfortunately I think the pacing and plotting wasn’t executed well, which I get into below.
There are a LOT of characters in this story. We switch narrators pretty frequently, which didn’t really bother me. I liked reading what was happening to each of them and getting the differing character’s perspective as they slowly came together into one group. There weren’t any characters I was attached too, but there also weren’t any characters I didn’t want to read about. They were a well rounded cast, each with individualistic personalities.
Nora Roberts usually writes romance, but Year One is not a romance. There are romantic relationships. There are romantic feelings, however ‘coupling’ does not have any bearing on the plot at all. The count for intimate scenes is 0. Instead, Year One is heavy on The Doom and the birth of magickal abilities in those who are ‘special’, or as they’re called in the story, The Uncanny. While I always like a story more when there is some kind of romance, I definitely liked how Year One was romance lite. That was definitely one point in Birdie’s plus column.
Really there was only one negative, and that was how I feel like this story would have been so much better if Year One had been split two books. I’d say 90% of the story was all about Lana’s group, Arlys’ group, and Jonah’s group all getting out of New York and surviving. It was about their trials on the road, and the building of New Hope… and it was good. If only it had stopped there. What came next, that last 10%, should have been an entirely new book. I loved where Year One went, but oh my gosh could it have been spectacular had it all been written in a second book, with the page time to really delve into it. For those who have read it, or want a spoiler, highlight this next section –How amazing would it have been if Year One had ended with Max’s death and Lana leaving New Hope. Then, everything that happened next, (her journey alone, finding Simon and their time at the farm house) had been given the page time needed for us to really fall in love with them as a couple… instead, we got 90% of a story all about Max and Lana’s love for each other, and 10% to swallow and accept her moving on with another man. It was too much. It was a poor pacing choice. I felt how much the end could have mattered to me, but because it was so rushed it just didn’t.
Anyway, despite my timing complaint, I know I’ll be continuing the series. Year One ended leaving a lot of characters in a perilous situation, and I want to know everyone’s okay. Plus, there was enough meat to this story to keep me invested. If only Nora Roberts would slow things down a bit. This is not an instant gratification genre. This is a take your time and make us absorb it, feel it, and live it genre. That’s what makes an epic apocalyptic story.
I started with this book, but couldn’t continue it is on the back burner – one day, maybe
I can understand why. I wasn’t sure how it would pan out for me.