Year One by Nora Roberts #BookReview

Title: Year One | Series: Chronicles of The One | Author: Nora Roberts | Publisher: St. Martin’s Press | Pub. Date: 2017-12-5 | Pages: 432 | ISBN13: 9781250122957 | Genre: Post-apocalyptic fantasy | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Library

Year One

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 cover for Year One

Year One Review

I’m no stranger to Nora Roberts. She’s one of the few romance authors that can still tempt me into picking up one of her books. She writes primarily ‘normal’ romance, with a side of futuristic hard-nose cop (under the pseudonym J.D Robb). However, every once in a while, she comes out with a trilogy that is decidedly ‘magick’ infused, albeit set in modern day. I’ve always enjoyed those, so I wanted to see what she would do with a post-apocalyptic setting in Year One. I was hoping that she would push her boundaries and give us something on the scale that a writer of Roberts’ talent is capable of when she tries.

Year One was both delighting and disappointing. I feel like Roberts skipped where she should have lingered, and lingered where she should have skipped in a few places. The whole book begins with the development and spread of this virus that eliminates a huge amount of the world’s population, and in the aftermath, the survivors find that some of them are… different. And you can only imagine how it must have been for the majority of these people to find out that they suddenly had powers that they’ve never had before. We know it was hard – we know that some accepted, and some went nuts. And we know some are good, and some are evil. But that’s pretty much it. She went straight from “Look! Everyone’s dying” to “Faeries! Elves! and Wizards!”



Humans are just going to be like “Yep. Obviously a faerie now.” Okay, so maybe with the change comes the knowledge of what they are. Magick and all that. But it could have been explored, even if briefly, the awakening of magic in a few people. Instead, we get one scene during coitus and then follow a couple as they develop basic telekinetic abilities. In other words, I felt cheated! Come on! This could have been fantastic, and instead she went the easy way with it. Oh, and her prophecies suck.

And, unfortunately, this isn’t the only way Nora Roberts took the easy way out, either. Year One is, essentially, a repeat of the formula that’s found success with in her other books. From the characters (there’s always a main female character in one of the series that loves cooking), to the country it starts (she loves to have something of Ireland or Scotland in her books), and the basics of the magickally inclined in a battle of good versus evil.

One other criticism is that, by now, Nora Roberts should be able to make more than a token nod to the LGBTQ+. While I am glad that she has some racially diverse characters in Year One, there is what amounts to maybe a 2 page scene early on in which a guy is talking about his husband that he lost during the viral outbreak. That’s it. And that’s irritating because thousands of people read Roberts’ work, and it wouldn’t have killed her to continue to spread the message that love is love is love.

However, that’s about the extent of my griping, because Nora Roberts tells one hell of a story! Lots of people write, and their books can be interesting – even entertaining. But a few of those writers are actual story-tellers, and with them you forget that you’re reading a book. Instead, you leave your body and live inside their world for the duration of the story. That’s how it is with her. She has a distinctive way of writing that makes the words dance into your imagination and set the story free. I love the hope and basic belief in human goodness that permeates many of her characters. That there is more good than bad in this world. 

Year One kept me reading even when the pregnancy was introduced, and for the past few years, that particular subject will make me run in the opposite direction. While it was still uncomfortable for me to read, there was enough going on that I didn’t particularly mind it. And, thank you sweet baby cthulhu, the labor scene actually had me laughing. 

Though I don’t know that I could point out exactly what it is about the book, Year One reminded me a lot of Swan Song by Robert McCammon. I can’t wait to see what Nora Roberts does with the second book in Chronicles of the One. I just hope she throws in some surprises and pushes herself a bit more in the second one.

Buy Link: Amazon



9 thoughts on “Year One by Nora Roberts #BookReview

  1. This is interesting – I approach with trepidation but feel I must read reviews of new books in my genre! I don’t think I fancy this, because I’m not interested in the whole humans-with-superpowers bit. I like my post apoc more real life. Very good review, btw. And btw, I’d love you to read The Dead Lands or October Rain by Dylan Morgan!!!

    I am interested in your comment about NR not making any nods to the LBGTQ community. I purposedly don’t do this, in my books, because I loathe tokenism. My view is that the moment you point out that someone is black, or Indian, or gay, it sets them apart. I have characters of races other than white caucasian in most of my books, but I rarely mention that they are so; I don’t label someone as ‘white’ so why should I make an issue of the fact that a person is Chinese? I assume that will be apparent from their name, the odd thing they say, or if not, maybe it isn’t an issue. Similarly, some of the characters in my Project Renova series are gay (Clay, Will, Luke, Julie and possibly Suzanne, should you get to read the novels at some point!), but for me to make a big thing of it would be tokenism, I think. In the same way, I dislike things like ‘Women Writers’ groups. It PROMOTES differences. The only way for us all to accept one another as equals (which will never happen, because the human being is a territorial animal) is for the diversities not to be mentioned; to be treated as ‘the norm’. That’s my view, anyway – I don’t expect everyone (or perhaps anyone!) to agree!

    1. The difference here I think is that Roberts exquisitely details her characters in general, and has, as a romance writer (even in this book), such a strong affection for … affection … That her lack of inclusiveness can be a bit annoying. It’s more the style of writer she is than the urge to see it in ALL books. She could easily do it, and do it naturally, and the fact that she hardly ever does just annoys me.

      1. Right, gotcha! I see what you mean, that explains it more. Yes, re the agree to disagree – I remember saying to someone that having a women writer’s Wednesday was sexist, and she went apeshit at me, so I’ve learned to keep my views to myself, mostly, but I know you are intelligent enough to consider someone else’s viewpoint even if you don’t agree!! I know not many have my point of view.

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