Book Reviews

Year One (Chronicles of The One #1) by Nora Roberts Book Review

hell yeah Review

  • Year One (Chronicles of The One #1).
  • Nora Roberts.
  • 432 pages.
  • Post-Apocalyptic / Dystopian / Romance / Fantasy / Fiction.
  • My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.


Book Blurb:

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. 

Book Review:

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Year One is the first book in The Chronicles of The One trilogy. A brand new post-apocalyptic trilogy by the author Nora Roberts. I’d heard the name of the author before but couldn’t place it, a quick Google search later and I found that she is a romance writer also masquerading as ‘J.D. Robb‘ who writes futuristic suspense. But, a ‘romance‘ writer, shudders! 😂

I hadn’t heard or read anything about Year One before it turned up and it was what I term ‘surprise book post‘ a book that arrives that I haven’t requested. The blurb on the press release was interesting and the cover of the proof is absolutely stunning. White, with a black crow and a tag line that intrigues (the cover of the finished book is stunning too and is of a very similar design to the proof. Simplistic, understated and minimal, white with a black crow, it really is eye-catching and a perfect example of less being more where book covers are concerned).👌 Being a genre that I like, intrigued by the blurb, tag line and enamoured by the cover I decided to give the book a go. And, I’m really pleased that I did as I found Year One to be a great read that was well worth my time (it’s well worth yours too).

In the remote Scottish countryside on New Year’s Eve Rory MacLeod shoots a pheasant, the dead bird collides with a crow, falling to the ground and lands in an ancient stone circle that the locals call sgiath de solas (shield of light). That innocuous minor action of MacLeod and the spilt blood of the dead pheasant has portentous and world ending consequences as that ‘one drop‘ thins the shield and is the catalyst that brings about the sickness/virus that becomes known as ‘The Doom‘.

The Doom is a virulent plague that causes death in a matter of days and spreads like wildfire killing billions of the world’s population (yes, it’s that devastating) causing the world as we know it to end. But, it doesn’t just kill people, it also changes them too. There are people who are immune and remain human whilst others, dubbed the ‘Uncannies‘ manifest various magical abilities and become something more than human (there are light and dark Uncannies, the equivalent of good and evil).

As The Doom spreads and society crumbles the various characters in Year One realise that to survive they need to flee, leaving the city behind to find a safe haven where they can start anew and try to live together (Uncanny and human) in harmony and relative peace in the aftermath of The Doom and society’s collapse. There are glimpses throughout Year One of the worst that both the Dark Uncannies and humans can do but also flashes of the best in both groups that showcase the light. Nothing is ever easy or simple and along their travels, there will be trials, tribulations, loss, betrayal and hardship for the characters as they struggle to start over and to survive.

The three main groups of characters in Year One are:

Firstly, Arlys Reid, a news reporter from New York, Fred (a fairie) who works at the TV station with Arlys and Chuck, a hacker and the guy who was Arlys source of information after The Doom started keeping her informed of the truth. After Arlys broadcasts the truth about The Doom on-air her and Fred arrange to meet Chuck and together they leave New York.

Secondly, Rachel, a Doctor, Jonah (who can see life or death in people and glimpses of how they died) who is a paramedic at the hospital with Rachel and Katie. Katie whose parents and then her husband all die from The Doom and she is left alone. Jonah brings her into the hospital where she gives birth to twins (a boy and a girl) and ends up being a surrogate mother to Hannah, another baby girl whose mother dies in birth from the Doom. They also leave New York together.

After the two initially separate story arcs of both the groups fleeing New York they then meet as if by fate on the road at a wreckage and agree to travel onwards together.

The third group is Lana, a chef from New York and her partner Max, a writer. Both have slight magical abilities before The Doom strikes and are witches but with the outbreak of The Doom, their small powers are magnified. Along the way of their journey, they meet Eddie and his dog Joe (Eddie really reminded me of Shaggy from Scooby Doo, just a goofy and all around good guy). The story arc with this group remains separate from the others for quite a length of the book until finally all three of the groups converge together.

The book starts on New Year’s Eve and ends on the following New Year’s Eve, hence the title ‘Year One‘ as the story spans the whole of the first year after The Doom.

On a whole, the cast of characters are exceptional and you find that all the main characters are given their own individual personalities and depth. Personally, I really liked Fred as a character, sweet, innocent, cheerful and always ready to help she’s just instantly likeable and Eddie. Always a fan of animal companions and Joe and Eddie are great, like Fred, Eddie is also instantly likeable and adds some slight comedic relief with the way in which he speaks and is just an ‘average Joe‘ guy.

In the interest of fairness, I have to admit that I found the use of fantasy names in Year One quite jarring, to begin with. I’m a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre and supernatural elements are quite often on display (though slightly more understated) but I hadn’t come across the actual usage of fantasy terms and names to describe people before. I can’t put my finger on it (it’s possibly because I’m a huge fantasy fan) but it seemed strange reading terms like magick and names like fairies, elves, witches and sorcerer’s in a dystopian book. However, saying that, my initial issue with their use soon faded. I found that they tied in well with the myth and folklore at the beginning of the book and I became accustomed to their usage finding them to feel like a natural fit and organic to the story that Roberts was telling.

As I mentioned above I’m a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, I wouldn’t say I’m a connoisseur, in fact I know I’m not but I do know what I like. And for me, one of the main factors in a book that’s based on hardship, enduring and overcoming is how much you care about the characters and their fates. If you don’t care if the characters survive then you lack that connection with them and luckily with Year One, Roberts gives you a group of characters that you really do come to care about, you want to see them make it and you genuinely have to keep turning the pages to find out the outcome and to see what happens next.

There’s not really much you can do with a post-apocalyptic world and landscape that hasn’t been done before but Roberts world and its locations in the fallout from The Doom are well realised. And the ‘Uncannies‘ also add a little touch and hint of uniqueness.

Near the end of Year One the focus shifts from the larger cast of characters to focus on a single character (no spoilers from me so I’m not mentioning either the why or the who). Roberts makes them and their story the focal point and it works. Though, I’m hoping in the sequel that we find out what happens to some of the other characters from the group as I need to know!

I liked Roberts writing style. I found Year One to be bleak and dark without ever being overly so and there is lightness to go along with the darkness too, friendships, people banding together and some romance (shudders, though seriously, I didn’t mind the romance in year One, there isn’t much and it’s understated but adds to both the characters and the story). It’s occasionally whimsical, very easy to read and accessible (some post-apocalyptic books are often quite dense and require concentration. Year One wasn’t, it’s pick up and read material) with great pacing as the pages fly by in a blur. From the beginning, you are instantly pulled into the characters lives and the story that she is telling.

As the first part in the Chronicles of The One trilogy Year One features a satisfying but open-ended conclusion that closes off the first year after The Doom struck whilst also setting the foundations for what’s to come. I found it to be a worthy addition to the post-apocalyptic genre.

And now the highly quotable bit:

Year One is an engaging read that puts you in the passenger seat as you take an emotional and fulfilling journey alongside its cast of memorable characters!


With a fantastic story brimming full of captivating characters Year One is a magical read that will enchant you.

Purchase Year One.

Amazon UK  /  Amazon US  /  Book Depository

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74 thoughts on “Year One (Chronicles of The One #1) by Nora Roberts Book Review

  1. I love Nora Roberts though have read only her police procedural series and not fantasy. Going to check it out. Great review. 🙂 I am so happy!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. She writes good romance. 🙂 Her’s are the only ones I read. She writes the futuristic police procedurals as JD Robb.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s the most fascinating book and I finished it in one weeks time. And book two is good but not as good as year One now I found out that book three won’t be released until November bummer because I saw it in a grocery store in Memphis. Anyways an excellent read

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Its actually not that different. I’m a *huge* Nora Roberts fan, especially of her ‘magickal’ trilogies like The Hollow / Circle of Seven trilogy, The Key trilogy, The Earth/Fire/Air trilogy, etc, and even though there’s *some* new stuff in this book, if you’ve read any of the aforementioned works, you’ll recognize a lot of how Year One goes.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Dude…you keep posting reviews that make me want to buy things. I’m running out of money. I think someone else posted a good review of this so you’re only half to blame for this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The romance possibilities put me off too! I knew the authors name but wasn’t sure what she wrote then it was romance! I mean, I don’t read romance but I do like post-apocalyptic and my curiosity won out. Ended up really enjoying it. There is romance but it’s understated and adds to the overall story.


  3. Yeah, I knew I’d read this author before and like the Captain I think the romance element put me off, but given you enjoyed this then I’ll add it to the wishlist.
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been eagerly awaiting to see what you would think of a Nora Roberts! I haven’t read this one yet but now I’m even more excited! Yes, she writes romance, but she is outstanding in her character development!! Glad you liked it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. WOW! Thank you so much for sharing this! Since I’m not partial to romance as well, and since I briefly sampled (and did not enjoy) this author with the series written as JD Robb, I would not have given this book a second glance, but both your recommendation and the core concept just placed this on my “highly wanted” list.
    Great review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Awesome review, Drew. Had me laughing when you found out about the whole romance novel writing skill set that the author had hahahah Glad to hear this one turned out to be your cup of tea though. I would totally love to give it a shot myself. Got to admit that the whole fantasy names within a dystopia sounds odd to me too, but if the author does it well according to you, then I trust ya.

    P.S. Out of curiosity, what’s your process to reviewing books? You tend to always do a nice job in recapping the story and characters with as much details as possible, especially by using the terms used by the author themselves. Do you have some kind of notepad beside you when reading? Do you write in your books? Or is your memory just perfect? Hahahah

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man, romance! I knew I’d heard the authors name before but couldn’t place it and when I googled her. Well, she’s quite old and quite prolific so there was a lot of romance books, a long list!😂

      This is definitely great though and I’m glad that I gave it a go. Yeah, she does it well and it fits in with the story but the names do take a bit of getting used to at first. Then again, I read grimdark, etc and I don’t actually remember the last fantasy book I read that used the term fairies in it!😂

      Thanks man, appreciate it though I think my recapping sucks as I don’t like to elaborate to much and prefer the more informal way of reviewing as it works for me when I’m writing them.

      I do have a notepad but don’t use it much and generally just jot down character names and key points in a notes app on my phone but I don’t write many notes at all. Write in the books?! Ha, some people would call that sacrilege and it’d be a stoning offence! No, I don’t do that and my memory isn’t great though I have winged reviews before with no notes.😂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Woohoo for unexpected surprises and surprises that actually get enjoyed! Great review Drew… I was aware of Nora writing romance.. I may have read a few in the past… way in the past 😀 and it’s interesting to see her trying out the dystopian now. Never read her books as Robb though… I do see on Goodreads how popular they are among some readers…
    Anyway, this book sounds positively cool. I like the idea of how the title works here alongside the plot, everything starting over, etc… Nice touch!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol at way in the past! Makes you sound ancient!😂😂😂 Yeah, her Robb series is definitely popular, I’m sure she’s got a new one coming out soon so she’s certainly a prolific writer but if she can then why not and she’s obviously got the fans too.

      Yeah, everything merging together was cool and it’s a great book. I can understand some will have an issue with the open ending but coming from fantasy where most books, especially those at the beginning of a trilogy/series are open it didn’t bother me.

      Yep, surprises that are enjoyable are awesome.


  8. I have to be honest I never thought I would see Nora Roberts on your blog. I try my best to avoid romance, I have to admit sometimes when they venture out into another genre they do quite well. Glad you enjoyed it:)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have been watching this one. I (as you know) do not read romance, but am none the less familiar with her work. I hear nothing but raving reviews and remarks. So when I first saw this, my curiosity was piqued. I was thinking about adding, and since it has definitely hit the mark with you, I shall! Stellar review Drew. Honestly!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you.😀 I’ve read a couple of reviews that didn’t like the ending but as you say most are positive for the book and it deserves the praise. To be honest, while everyone is allowed their own opinion, which I always say and agree with. The negative aspects about the end, yeah, I get where they are coming from but it’s the first book in a trilogy, it’s bound to have an open end, can’t finish the story in book 1
      or there would be no need for a trilogy. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, it is expected there will be enough room for a segue. As long as it is not a full blown hanger, I do not mind. But I have little patient for the total cliff hangers haha. So I get how some might feel 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh definitely, full blown sucks and I agree about how people feel it was just one of the reviews came across as they didn’t seem to understand the concept of a trilogy and that the story will continue in the next two books otherwise it would be a standalone.😂 It’s not a bad cliffhanger compared to some and with the book being called Year One and Roberts ending it at the end of the first year it felt right but you can’t please everyone. At least it’s the first book in the trilogy to have a cliffhanger/open ended as lots of fantasy series seem to finish with open endings.😂


  10. I used to read her crime novels as they were the new shiny additions to our local library in Izmir. Can’t believe she also wrote a fantasy novel. Very talented!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It was a great read, but wasn’t really ‘new’ for her. Yeah, she pushed into the post-apocalyptic, but many of the threads are recognizable if you’ve read any of her magickal infused trilogies in the past.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I just received this in audio and hope to listen to it soon. I was shocked when I saw who wrote it after reading the blurb. I knew her from romance novels that my grandma used to read.

    I like your review and I’m curious what I’ll think about it. I lean a lot more towards Post-Apocalyptic and away from Fantasy — so it’ll most likely be a good comparison to what you thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s definitely different for her!😂 Though, there is some slight romance but it’s OK and adds to the story. Certainly a shock to find out how many romance books she’s wrote and then to read this, quite a different genre.

      I really like post-apocalyptic books, I don’t read that many but it’s a genre I like. The fantasy elements were weird to begin with but that could be because I’m a fantasy fan and they seemed out of place. I’ve read mostly positive reviews for it so I hope you enjoy it.😀


  13. I guess I can read a Nora Roberts. Having read one and being submerged in romance galore, I would have been put off as well. But I’ll take it from you that this is not that kind of book.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I have been a huge fan of Nora Roberts for years and have read almost all if her hundreds of books. And yes, most are romance, but not the type you tthink of when you hear “romance”. Like Year One, there’s always another, bigger element added in. In a lot of them, especially the ones in the last 10 years, there’s more focus on crime or mystery, magical elements, demons or witches, and some that are about a basic human experience. And yes like in Year One there is a love story and it’s one that you root for the characters. She has a way of opening entire world’s for you and making you believe completely that it makes total sense that one of her characters is a mermaid or a witch, etc. Then there are ones like Shelter In Place. Which is about a shooting in a mall and how the lives of the people who were there that day were forever changed. And honestly some of her books have villains that are so amazingly twisted and dark it’s a huge curve ball. If you liked Year One, check out some of her others. Trust me, it will not be the “romance” novel you think. She is probably one of the most gifted authors I have ever read and has such awesome depth to write such a widely diverse collection of books.


  15. I actually found book 2 on sale before I found book one knowing that there had to be a one I was on a quest find it and read it first I know if you don’t read her books in order your left in big confusion book one was very satisfying I immediately went out and bought book 2 would love to hear what you had to say about it if he was as fond of book one as I was I know we read it the bummer is you have to wait 10 months now to read book 3

    Liked by 1 person

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