I went into Year One without really knowing much about it. I haven’t read Nora Roberts in years and years, except for a re-read of Irish Thoroughbred that didn’t go well, but the premise of Year One piqued my interest. I was curious to see how Roberts handled the end of the world, and post-apocalyptic titles are right up my alley. Especially if there are zombies. There were none here, but the paranormal elements were fun anyway.
The first chapter or so of Year One are kind of a slough. I enjoyed them, but PooPenny, who is also reading this, found them boring and hard to get into. We follow a very unfortunate man vacationing with his family in Scotland, who is Patient Zero of the plague that becomes known as the Doom. He and his globe-trotting family then spread the nasty, always fatal virus around the world. As the virus gains traction, it kills indiscriminately, and after only a few weeks, has wiped out billions.
Some folks are immune. Those with paranormal abilities, The Uncanny, seem immune, and after the start of the Doom, their abilities, no matter how insignificant, grow stronger. Some people grow wings or have the ability to meld with trees. Others can fly or toss fireballs. It’s like a bunch of supernatural beings suddenly spring into being, leaving behind their less mundane selves as they embrace the power suddenly suffusing their bodies. Some people, those already leaning towards the unsavory and pushed over the edge by the end of the world, become evil, while others turn towards the light. It’s like Kylo Ren and Rey on steroids.
The struggle between Good and Evil is the major theme of the book. We follow small groups of survivors, some with paranormal powers, some without, as they struggle to find meaning in the ruins of what they once knew. I liked almost every character, and was a bit put out at the end when most of them are ignored. Without getting too spoilery, their safe haven is attacked, and Lana, the main character, flees to protect her unborn baby. The rest of the tiny town of New Hope? Who knows, and that drove me crazy. Throw me a bone, will ya? Are Rachel, Jonah, Arlys, and Fred still alive?? I have to wait a year to find out.
While not everything gelled for me, overall, I found Year One a tense, hard to put down read. I gobbled this up, and found the world immersive and scary. While I could see the betrayal by the bad guy a mile away, it still broke my heart. I am counting the days until Year Two hits bookshelves!
Grade: 4 stars
Review copy borrowed from my local library
About the book:
In her newest work, the stunning beginning to an epic hardcover trilogy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts weaves an enthralling saga of suspense, survival, and the journey that will unite a desperate group of people to fight the battle of their lives…
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.
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 share 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, 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.
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.