Name: Year One
Author: Nora Roberts
Number of Pages: 432 (Hardback)
Published: December 5th 2017 by Piatkus
Genre: Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic
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. – from Goodreads
Year One offers up a post-apocalypse that is both worldly and other-worldly.
It begins with the Doom, a flu-like virus that takes hold incredibly quickly and wipes out a lot of the world’s population. Of those who survive some are immune, but there are those who manifest abilities and powers previously unknown to them, and this is the other-worldly element. Magic is alive and well in this world, although not everyone with power uses it for good, there’s dark and light.
There are witches, elves, faeries, seers. All manner of magic flows through the pages of Year One.
There are action scenes and moments of horror set against the development of new communities and the joining together of various groups of survivors, both immunes and Uncanny (the name given to those with powers).
I thought the balance was more in favour of the domestic scenes and the community building. I did enjoy this, because what else would you do if everything fell apart but try to rebuild if possible, but there was so much else hinted at in this collapsing world, like the threat to the Uncanny as they were apparently being rounded up to be studied, and there were the Raiders, groups who had only destructive purposes. These themes didn’t receive much attention and I’d have swapped some of the domestic/cooking scenes for more of the supernatural/action.
I found the dialogue occasionally disjointed in a way, and didn’t think it was always evident who was speaking. I found myself going back a few lines at times.
When Year One was good it was quite great. There were some really spooky moments, and the darkness and power setting brothers against each other, and the cost of these confrontations, was totally engrossing. I would have loved more of these high-stakes scenes, especially concerning the situation in the major cities as humanity fell apart, the conflict between the authorities and the Uncanny, and the places to which these special people were taken. Who knows, maybe that’s something to come in future instalments.