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