Book Review: Year One by Nora Roberts

March 20, 2019 Book Reviews 3

Book Review: Year One by Nora Roberts

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Year One by Nora Roberts
Genres: Apocalyptic, Fantasy
on December 5, 2017
Pages: 419
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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Also by this author: Shadow Spell, The Perfect Hope, Of Blood and Bone

First in the Chronicles of the One apocalyptic fantasy series and revolving around groups of friends who become family.

In 2018, Year One was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Fantasy.

My Take

I hadn’t planned on reviewing Year One, as I thought it was simply a Roberts romance. Instead I was surprised to discover this apocalyptic fantasy that grabbed me immediately with that tension-filled beginning of doom and happy families.

The tension continued, increased, culminating in my tears. And the tension continues with a society descending into violence. We’re introduced to the core characters, chapter by chapter, as they each escape their situations and find safe havens. Places with their own terrors.

It’s all expressed through third person global subjective point-of-view mostly through a few primary characters: Max, Lana, Arlys, and Jonah.

And as terrifying as it was, Roberts leavens it all with cultural references. In fact, it’s something of a cozy apocalyptic nightmare that reminded me of S.M. Stirling’s harsher Emberverse and Laura Bickle’s Young Adult The Hallowed Ones .

I always love the stories where people have to go back to basics, hunting, canning, gardening, surviving with the help of each other. And Year One is a showcase for humanity, its best and its worst. The ones who step up and help each other, and the ones who fear anything, anyone, different.

The Story

It starts with the MacLeods celebrating New Year’s Eve and quickly escalates to multiple presidents in almost as many days as half the world dies.

It’s a virus, they call it the Doom. It…it changes people, brings out latent abilities, ramps up others. Normal people, people without any abilities who fear anything different call them the Uncanny…and blame them for the world gone wrong.

The Characters

Max Fallon, a wizard and a popular writer, is in love with Lana Bingham, a not-so-serious witch and professional chef.

Eric is Max’s brother currently dating Allegra. The nerdy Shaun Iseler is Eric’s friend whose parents have a vacation house in the Alleghenies. Kim, a brilliant girl, and Poe, a football star, are fellow college students with Eric.

Flynn is the only one left who’s running the store; Lupa is his wolf.

Chuck is a technical and computer genius who lives in a basement with his toys. Arlys Reid is a journalist who ends up as the anchorwoman on The Evening Spotlight. Little Fred is a young colleague along with the real anchor, Bob Barrett; Lorraine Marsh; Jim Clayton; and, Carol. Theo is/was Arlys’ brother. Bill Anderson is a neighbor from Arlys’ hometown; Will is his missing son.

Dr Rachel Hopman works the ER. Jonah Vorhies is a paramedic, very depressed over current world events and his own psychic abilities; Patti Ann is his partner. Healy is a lab rat. Dr Gerson will be treating Angela. Hannah is the baby whose mother died.

Tony Parsoni is madly in love with his wife, Katie MacLeod, who is pregnant with twins whom she’ll name Antonia and Duncan. Her parents are Ross MacLeod, patient zero, and his wife, Angela. Marjorie is Angela’s friend. Rob MacLeod is Ross’ twin; Jayne is his wife. Hugh is their cousin with the farm at Dunfries, Scotland, where he lives with his wife, Millie.

On the road, we…
…meet Eddie and his dog, Joe, Lloyd Stenson, who likes to build things, and Rainbow, who will teach yoga.

In New Hope, we…
…meet Aaron and Clarice, who had been a beautician. Carly is a nursing student, although there’s a Carly Barker who used to be a deputy. Mike Rozer had also been a cop. Ray, Harley, Dave Daily had been a short order cook, Mirium, and the shapeshifting Diane Simmons are more refugees. Yale Trezori, Bryar, Jess, Dennis Reader, Ma Zee, Tara, and Drake Manning yet more. Starr is one of the rescued. The bigots include Karl Rove, Don and Lou Mercer, Denny Wertz, Sharon Beamer, Brad Fitz, and more.

The farm is…
…where Simon Swift lives with his dogs, Harper and Lee. His parents, Ethan and Madeline, died. Soon Fallon Swift will live here too.

The Raiders are vicious gangs who take joy in destroying and torturing. The Reverend Jeremiah White preaches bigotry and hatred to his Purity Warriors, vowing to destroy the Uncanny…even as he employs them as his thugs.

Just like anyone, the Uncanny come in Dark and Light.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a lightly textured pale gray background. Centered is a black crow, its wings dissipating into nothing, hovering over a deeper gray Celtic knot. At the very top is an info blurb in black. The author’s name is below this, then the crow, and the title below it with both in red. The series information is just below the author’s name in black. The initials NR are stylized in blue to the left of the author’s first name.

The title introduces us to Year One of the world that survives.

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