All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Year One by Nora Roberts

on December 5, 2017

Year One (Chronicles Of The One #1)
Nora Roberts
2017, 419p
Copy courtesy Hachette AUS via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

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.

I’ve been reading Nora Roberts for probably over 20 years. I’ve read a countless amount of her romances and although I haven’t kept up with the In Death series that she writes under the name of J.D. Robb, I’ve read a handful here and there. This is something very different yet again and I was intrigued from the time I first heard about it.

I’ve read a few books where an apocalyptic event wipes out a huge portion of the world’s population via some sort of hideous disease and this book starts the same way. It begins in Scotland, with a family who are flying back home to America and from there it sweeps the globe as people come in contact with infected people and take it with them overseas on holidays, for business, etc. It also appears that if you’re immune, you’re immune. Exposure results in a relatively quick downward spiral and so the people who are left standing at the end of a few weeks are generally believed to be unable to contract the disease, or if they do, it doesn’t affect them in the same way it does the majority. They begin to band together, creating camps, communities, learning to protect themselves against the threats that still remain.

For the first half of this book, it honestly didn’t feel like Roberts was bringing anything new to the post-apocalyptic table. It felt like reading an episode of The Walking Dead but instead of zombies, there are crusaders who want to take resources for themselves and distrust those in the surviving population who are ‘gifted’ in ways that are difficult to explain. The gift seems to manifest in either a good or evil way – it’s almost like witchcraft although there are othes that display traits of elves or fairies, even Lycans. That is touched upon briefly when gifteds are encountered in the storyline but it really only starts to seemingly play a prominent role in the latter half of the book. The first half is mostly dedicated to the disease wiping out half the world and the immune finding each other and banding together. A catastrophic invasion scatters them toward the end of the book and after that we follow only one main character, whereas previously we had followed several.

I was into the post-apocalyptic story because I love a good one of those. I am a big fan of the genre and I love the ways in which society can fall and be rebuilt. I enjoyed the journeys of the characters to find each other and the way they began a new civilisation and attempted to govern, working together as a group. Those with skills pitched in and those who didn’t found other ways to contribute. And there are always dissenters, wherever you go, whatever the circumstances so those that appreciated the anarchy of the world were included too. But…..

I’m not as convinced about the supernatural part of the story. It felt a bit clunky for me and it wasn’t explored any where near enough, especially with Lana and Max before the disease even begins. There’s no real explanation and some of the abilities that manifested just seemed really random. People fall into two camps – either good or evil. Those without gifts fall into either two camps – those ok with what they see and those that are really really not. The battle scene felt foreshadowed really obviously although I was surprised by one particular event. After that I’m just not sure I could buy a character being able to make it so far on their own, especially in their condition and the rest of the book felt a bit contrived. I was left wondering what had happened to the others from the town that had been built. I guess they will crop up at some stage in book 2 but it was a bit weird to leave them behind considering they’d been along for most of the ride in this book.

I know it’s just the first book and it will be built on and more explained and some of the groundwork was quite good. I’m really keen to know what’s happening in other parts of the world as well, although with communications mostly down this wasn’t an option in this book. Hopefully there’ll be some more info – even though I didn’t super love this, I think I’m interested enough to read the next one and see where it’s all going.


Book #192 of 2017


8 responses to “Review: Year One by Nora Roberts

  1. Lily Malone says:

    I have read a few dystopian books this year too, the most recent being a series which starts with a book called The Last Girl. A bit like you, I’ve kept reading because there’s just something about it that makes me persist. Yet the first book the ‘girl’ who’d been locked away for years because she was the key to the future (in these books, no more girl children have been born after a virus) – she escapes and all of a sudden she’s like a ninja warrior of the Jason Bourne variety. So big suspension of disbelief. But still so much action going on that I quite enjoyed the read. That said, I also read The Road this year and that is so bleak and amazing, but it’s a totally different level.

    • Haha yeah, the untrained Ninja Warrior is a big thing in post apoc/dystopian fiction. It’s right up there with The Special One who Holds The Key To Humanity’s Future. But there is something about them. Perhaps because I feel that one day, society may implode. And all my reading will prepare me for the eventuality lol.

  2. Considering the number of books I read each year (65-70) and the amount of romance writers that I read, it’s pretty amazing that I’ve never read a Roberts. But I’m okay with that!

  3. Wow. This really is incredibly different for Nora Roberts. Interesting move given that the dystopian market is pretty well fed already. Will you continue the series?

  4. Rose Abrams says:

    I am a devoted fan of your books. Do you plan to release this book on audio (YEAR ONE)

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