by Nora Roberts
Series: Chronicles of The One #1
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Length: 12 hours and 20 minutes
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Narration: 5 cups
A stunning new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author?an epic of hope and horror, chaos and magic, and a journey that will unite a desperate group of people to fight the battle of their lives…
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 was very excited to begin Year One by Nora Roberts. Early reports stated this would be different from her usual paranormal romances and indeed Roberts delivers an epic fantasy with an urban vibe in the first novel of the Chronicles of The One. Lore, a post-apocalyptic setting, visions, magic, and prophecy will pull the reader in as we travel with several groups of characters. Narrated by the talented Julia Whelan, I devoured Year One on audio and cannot wait for the next one.
“Now between the birth and the death of time, power rises from the long slumber. Now begins the blood-soaked battle between them. And with the lightning and a mother’s birth pangs comes The One who wields the sword.”
As a long time fan of Nora Roberts, this new direction was refreshing and brought to mind, The Fireman by Joe Hill and elements I love in paranormal stories involving chosen ones. Gone are the formulaic stories we have come to expect as she delivered a dark tale with a large cast of characters in a post-apocalyptic world.
From the beginning, there is a supernatural element that was chilling. We begin the saga in Scotland with the MacLeod family who unknowingly let loose the virus. The virus referred to as “The Doom” is spread as patient zero travels home to New York. No one infected survives the Doom, but some seem to be immune. These folks seem to possess a unique gift. For example, an ambulance driver can see your death, and health just by looking at you. A woman who had minor abilities can now move things and more.
We get to know several groups of characters before things merge and Roberts does a beautiful job of sharing the conditions and downfall of civilization. We see governments collapse and magic emerge. With it comes fear and survival becomes deadly. Those with abilities are referred to as the “Uncanny.” Some are scooped up and analyzed, some are hunted out of fear and others hide.
While the worldbuilding took time, the payoff was well worth it. Sometimes this made the pacing slow, but there were climatic moments throughout, a sense of knowing and revelations that made all of those details more relevant. As I stated we follow several groups of characters and it was interesting to see how they fit into Roberts overall ARC.
The first couple we follow is Max and Lana, a young Wiccan couple who live in New York. They are the first to escape the city and are Uncanny. Outside the city, they befriend Eddie and his dog. Max is taking Lana to a remote cabin in Pennslyvania to meet his brother.
Next, we have Max’s younger brother Eric and his girl, Allegra. Shaun, Poe, and Kim are their college buddies. We soon discover things are not right here and get an inkling of what is to come.
Our next group is made up of characters who met at the local hospital in New York. Katie MacLeod, yep the same family branch as patient zero. Jonah the EMT I mentioned has had a crush on Doctor Rachel but never acted. Like Jonah and Katie, Rachel seems immune. When Rachel learns about the government rounding up the Uncanny, they flee the city together. This was a fascinating thread and we learned a great deal about the world.
Last we have Arlys, a television reporter and Freddy her coworker. After a turn of events, they are forced to flee New York. Chuck, a privileged computer genius, helps them escape and travels with them to rural Ohio.
While it may seem like a large cast of characters, the different threads are developed and easy to follow. I came to care about all of them. Be prepared, no one is safe in this world. Unlike her trilogies, there really isn’t a romance. We do spend time with couples, and relationships develop, but the central thread is the prophecy. I cannot wait for the next audio.
Year One was narrated by Julia Whelan and the story is perfect for listening. Julia gave each character their own voice allowing me to follow easily. Her tone, pacing and ability to convey emotions and tension kept me listening into the wee hours. You’ll want to own this so you can relisten before the next release.
[bctt tweet=”Year One was an impressive first tale and a new direction for author Nora Roberts. #urban #fantasy #audio #loveaudiobooks” username=”kimbacaffeinate”]
This is a great review, Kim! Your thoughts on Year One were much more eloquently put together than mine.
You are too sweet. I love this genre, so it was exciting to see her step out of her zone.
Can you believe that I’ve never read Nora Roberts (or JD Robb for that matter)? I’ve seen a few things that have made me want to try her, but this one has really peaked my interest. Glad to know that the narrator is good. I’m adding this to my TBR list. Comparing it to The Fireman, helps it a lot too. 😀
I hope you listen Julie rocks
Melissa's Midnight Musings
This sounds good, but the concept of viral outbreaks has always scared me, in books or movies. I’m glad that you enjoyed it!
Since I am at the moment quite sick I can relate to your fears.
Melissa's Midnight Musings
I hope you feel better soon!
I remember you mentioning somewhere that you were looking forward to this book, and as a Nora Roberts fan, I was surprised to see that she’d changed to this new genre. Then I was waiting with anticipation to see your review, and now I want to run out to pick this one up! Great review and Happy Saturday! Hugs…RO
I hope you grab it, Ro. It was refreshing and different
Carole @ Carole's Random Life in Books
I may have to pick up this audio. I have been very curious about this book and I love Whelan’s narration. Sounds like a good one!
Whelan is a great narrator.
I have this on hold at the library, and it is an incredibly long wait… oh well, I have so much to read in the meantime. Feel better!
With the next release a year away, it will work out. Thanks, Heidi. I am going to go take a nap.
This book sounds pretty amazing. I am gonna buy it for myself now. Thanks for sharing your review!
Yay. I look forward to your thoughts Karen.
Oooooooo! I need to read this. Debating the audio though …
The audio is fantastic…do it!
I just bought this a few days ago on audio. Happy to hear you loved it and the narration. I just kind of skimmed your review because I hope to listen to it soon.
Wahoo!! I am so glad you went with audio. Looking forward to your thoughts 🙂
I started it last night and I am hooked!
Every time I see one of your reviews of a Nora Roberts’ book I promise I’ll read one of her books! THis one is on my newly decluttered TBR so I raise my hand like Scarlett O’ Hara and promise I WILL READ THIS BOOK. I worry about the slow pace at first but you make it sound so good Kim and it sound like Bird Box so much, which I absolutely LOVED !
Well, it looks like I need to try Bird Box!
Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
I’m still on the fence on this one. I love her books with paranormal touches but this one is SO different. I don’t read much – okay any – urban fantasy but it’s a genre I’ve been wanting to explore and Nora Roberts make be a good intro author. I may have to use my next Audible credit for this one.
I bet the library has this on audio Katherine. My mom loves her paranormal trilogies and has never dabbled in UF and she loved it.
I’m glad this was a good one. I was very curious about this book as I’ve read many of Nora Roberts’s novels; I’m a big fan of her romance suspense line and some of the trilogies. I don’t read her J.D. Robb books though.
I love her Robb books but I am seriously behind. I lost track in the twenties and need to sit down and read first chapters to see which I’ve read..LOL
Oh yay, I’ve been waiting for someone to review this book so I can see if it’s really for me or not and it sounds like I might enjoy it. Thanks for the review, Kim. It was great (as always).
Happy New Year!!
Sweet, glad I could help you decide.
Jenea's Book Obsession
OMG! This sounds absolutely amazing and so up my alley!
I hope you grab it Jenea, I would love to see what you think.
Ive never read a book by Nora Roberts but this sounds really good AND its narrated by Julia Whelan. I love her, shes such an amazing narrator. I need to look this up on Audible.
This is so different from her previous works, so I hope you grab it on audio.
Tanya @ Girl Plus Books
What a new direction for Nora Roberts! I haven’t read anything from her in several years and this one definitely caught my eye. Glad it was such a hit for you, Kim!
Right. I like all of her works, and her paranormal trilogies are good but didn’t feel fresh. This was exciting.
Quick peek at your rating since I have this one on the review pile still. Very nice! This will be my first Nora Roberts book so I’m very excited.
Oh wow…excited you are trying her 🙂
I’ve (gasp) never read a novel by Roberts. My mom was always a huge fan, but none of the books that we had seemed to entice my attention. With comparisons to Hill’s book though, I may just have to finally give Roberts a shot!
This is different then her previous novels so I hope you read it
I did not expect this from her
Yes, it was different and refreshing.
“The Doom” — clever name for a deadly virus. Thanks for the post.
It had a real technical name, but yeah Doom fits.
I have this one in print, and may add audio. Looking forward to this one!
The audio is stellar.
wow Kim fantastic review and I took notice because I am also a longtime fan of NR and have come to expect a story that i could have replaced the characters and storyline of the last one, so this is very cool. I am off to my library site to see if its available on audio if not I will be reading it.
Fantastic, fantastic review
Exactly and this is nothing like them!
I have already read Nora Roberts romance, but maybe i should branch out hehe
I enjoy her paranormal ones and this was refreshingly different for her.
I agree, hopefully i’ll be able to find it here in aus
Oh it looks great! It’s been a while since I haven’t read one of her books but I usually really enjoy the books!
I hope you decide to read this one Melliane.
I haven’t heard of this book before, but I like the sound of it. And Nora Roberts sounds like a author I heard lots about. Glad you enjoyed the book!
Oh yes, I’ve been reading her books for over twenty years.
Now I know I have to read this book. Great review Kim
Another brilliant audiobook! I love your review! I am having a hard time keeping up with all these audiobooks! I just got The Fireman from the library but I haven’t started on it yet.
I loved Fireman. Did you listen to NOS42A? It was bloody brilliant.
Yes! I did listen to Nos4a2 and I agree 100%. I love Kate Mulgrew. I just picked up The Fireman at the library, and I can’t wait to start. I’m still listening to Uprooted by Naomi Novik and I hate it but it’s my first book of the year so I feel obliged to at least finish it, otherwise I would DNF it. It’s not my kind of fantasy. Oh well,
This sounds quite interesting. I have to make fantasy a priority in 2018. I already stared with The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.
Nice. I started the year with Kelley Armstrong.
I have this to read and I’m even more excited to start it now! Maybe I should wait until the other one is closer to releasing though. I don’t know, such a hard decision!
Enjoy Ali. I got this for my Mom for Christmas and she is loving it as well.
Geybie’s Book Blog
I’m planning to read this book, Kim. Glad to hear you loved it. Yay, so excited. Awesome review. ❤️
Enjoy. My mom is reading now and loving it.