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.
I’ve read plenty of Nora Roberts’ in my life. I remember reading my first book by her, Carolina Moon, back when I was about 18 years’ old. A co-worker had introduced me to her work. Prior to that, I’d never read much romance. Prior to that, I thought the “Romance” genre was a joke. “Bodice-rippers,” with no plot, no characterization, and stupid heroines getting themselves into trouble they couldn’t get out of. Nora Roberts changed my mind, opened my eyes, made me re-evaluate my assumptions. I have her to thank for years of satisfied and happy reading.
But, I fell out of love with Ms. Roberts’ books several years ago. I still read them, but they’re no longer the urgent-must-read-as-soon-as-released books that they used to be for me. Everything began to feel too much the same. Which was good and bad. Good, because I knew that every time I picked up a Nora Roberts’ book I would slip into a comfortable world where I knew – in essentials – what to expect. I would empathize with the characters. I would root for them. And everyone would be happy at the end.
Bad, because…of the exact same thing. It began to feel like wash-rinse-repeat. The characters started to blur together. Everything that I loved was always there, but it was always there. It was so much the same. And though I love to re-read, I didn’t particularly love doing it in every new book I read by her. That was the trilogies and series. I admit that the stand-alone novels didn’t seem so much rinse and repeat, but after a few that had a bit too much graphic, triggering, writing in it, I approach them with more caution and less joy. Weirdly, for someone that loved the first several seasons of The Walking Dead, and all the uncertainty, brutality, and humanity-at-its-best-and-worst, I couldn’t handle the darkness that came to permeate some of her stand-alone suspense novels. Maybe it just didn’t mix well for me.
It’s probably my own fault. I read most of her extensive backlist in the three to four years after I was first introduced to her. Anyway, this is all to say that I usually wait until her trilogies and series are complete and then I binge them over a long weekend. So, I added Year One to my to-read list, but promptly forgot about it. Then I read somewhere that it was Urban Fantasy. And I immediately downloaded it to my Kindle.
I was well rewarded. Year One is a book that contains the most minute shades of previous books I’ve read by Nora Roberts. I can see it in her relationships, in the magicks that she brings to bear, but the similarities end there. Year One is much more fatalistic, less HEA, and more brutal. It’s suspenseful, and for the first time in … ever, I worried about characters making it through to the end. As I should have. My worry was well-founded, and justified. So, while there is definitely romance, several of them in fact, they’re not as well-developed as in her Romance books, nor are they guaranteed.
However, it’s also un-endingly hopeful. There’s a belief in the best of people, without being naive, that permeates the characters that I loved following. Despite what everyone is put through, despite the worst done to them. There’s good in people and the world. It’s nice to see that. More than is really ever shown in The Walking Dead, for sure. Speaking of, I was reminded a lot of the zombie show while reading this book. Not that there are zombies, but a group of people, clinging together, with trust and necessity, to get somewhere safe. To protect their own. It’s not as dark as The Walking Dead, because there’s always that hopefulness and trust in the general goodness of at least some people, that flows throughout the novel.
I read this book in a quick couple of days, on a flight, because I couldn’t put it down. It’s the first Nora Roberts’ book, in a long time, that has compelled me to keep reading, to see what happens. The first that’s really enmeshed me in the story and the world. What happens, how it happens, how humanity breaks down, how the heroes get through it – that was mesmerizing. I had to know they’d get through, see how they’d get through.
When I was about halfway through Year One, I texted a friend that I was hooked. That I wouldn’t be able to wait to see what happens. And while the ending was slightly bittersweet, and left me feeling like this was more of a prequel (perhaps I’m wrong – can’t know until the next book comes out), I’m still well, and truly hooked.
So, here I am again, eagerly anticipating the next Nora Roberts’ release.