When I first heard about Nora Robert’s new book Year One I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Years ago I went through a Nora Roberts reading stage where I devoured all her romantic suspense novels but it’s been a while since I’ve read any of her books. When I heard that this book was a departure from her usual romance stories and was about a killer virus taking out billions of people and leaving a dystopian wasteland in its wake, I was even more intrigued.
I was then lucky enough to win a proof copy from Good Reading magazine and Hachette Australia but I would have bought this book otherwise.
Year One starts with a riveting opening:
“When Ross MacLeod pulled the trigger and brought down the pheasant, he had no way of knowing he’d killed himself. And billions of others…”
As the world’s population rapidly depletes, a new order rises. People who had previously had slight magical impulses now grow into their power, revealing all sorts of beings from witches to fairies to shapeshifters and elves. Some normal humans survive as well. But for every good Uncanny (as they call the magical people) and for every good human, there are plenty of bad people who want to kill and let chaos reign.
The story follows quite a lot of different characters as they leave New York in search of other people and safety. The cast of characters grows and was at times hard to keep up with. But the scenario is intriguing and a bit different from the normal zombie apocalypse dystopian route. There are no zombies in this book!
I enjoy reading dystopian novels from time to time and Year One reminded me of The Passage by Justin Cronin and The Stand by Stephen King. It also reminded me a lot of The Walking Dead. However, unfortunately, though I love Nora Roberts and this book had all the makings of something great, it didn’t really get there for me. I think it got bogged down in too many characters and felt a bit rushed in places. The plot regularly jumped days, weeks and months which made it feel a bit gappy to me.
I also think that because this is book one in a series that Nora may have rushed through the plot in order to set the series up for book two. If you read this and get to the end, you will know what I mean. The ending felt super rushed and a major character acted in a way that didn’t feel right to me.
Having said all this, there was still a lot to like about this book as it was an interesting mix of urban fantasy and dystopia.
Verdict: A new end of the world story that is worth a look