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Editor reviews

Editors Select, December 2017

Best-selling author Nora Roberts' new postapocalyptic dystopian fantasy novel is a departure from the romance fiction for which she's known (or the suspense of her alter ego, J. D. Robb), but it showcases the masterful storytelling that fans know and love while embracing the kind of world-building called for in this genre. Julia Whelan's nuanced narration captures Roberts' wide swath of characters and their authentic relationships. When the earth succumbs to a new plague, otherworldly powers manifest, and humans traits come in both life-affirming and monstrous ways in the first of a promising series. —Abby, Audible Editor

Summary

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER (December 2017)

A stunning novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts - Year One is an epic of hope and horror, chaos and magick, 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, magick 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.

©2017 Nora Roberts (P)2017 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What listeners say about Year One

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

The Chick-lit, the Witch and the World's End.

You've got to give Nora Roberts credit here, she has attempted to pull together a novel fusion of chick-lit, modern urban fantasy and an apocalypse. It wasn't really to my taste personally, I found the characters a little over-wrought and some of them come by their magical powers rather too easily. There is plenty of "she realised he was the one" and so on but to be fair it never really dominates or gets too extreme.

There are some good ideas here and some interesting characters which Roberts is suitably ruthless with to make for a credible post-apocalyptic novel.

Julia Whelan does a pretty decent job of the narration too and it looks like Roberts is ready to go steps further with the sequel which at the time of writing is due in December. I don't think that I am going to follow this series but if a fusion of chick-lit, and witches with magical powers set in an end of the world scenario appeals to you then it might be worth a try. I think on the other hand regular readers of fantasy might find frustrations here due to the unexplained magic and romance influences.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 31-01-18

Unoriginal start and loses it way at the end.

The start is so much a rip 0ff of the Stand. A lot of characters getting together and then seem to drop them without reason (the best character being Fred)'

The ending seemed to set up a sequel but was very unsatisfying.

7 people found this helpful

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A great listen

A thoroughly good listen. I'm looking for Year 2 as I listen to the last 5 minutes.

11 people found this helpful

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Not up to NR’s usual standard

Very disappointing storyline & character development. Have enjoyed NR’s books in the past and especially the Circle Trilogy & was hoping this would be an apocalypse/fantasy mashup but this book had no life, no depth to the characters or storyline. Will be returning it as would never listen again.

5 people found this helpful

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Easy, cheesy listening.

Easy to listen to but I found it very cheesy and cringe worthy. The story line (so far) is an unoriginal post apocalyptic landscape meander. I won't be buying the second book to find out if it gets more interesting.

10 people found this helpful

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  • jj
  • 28-01-18

Great story

Really enjoyed this book, good fast moving story with likable characters. Looking forward to the next one.

6 people found this helpful

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loved this book

the time flew by so quickly. it's a really good story and the reader enhanced my experience. I had quite a few sleepless nights after I just submerged myself into the story. it has horror, sadness, joy and love in it. some bits are really scary and I found them so disturbing that I would take a break for a day then go back to it. I really enjoyed the characters they were very true to human nature,. there were people who wanted to help each other and people filled with bitterness and hatred and people who were just really cruel for the sake of it! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! it's a book I would read again and again. I have done that with some of Steven kings books and all of John Connelly's and some of Christopher brookmyers books. I think there might be more books to follow just by the way the story ended. I really hope there are more!

6 people found this helpful

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Brilliant distraction

Some chapters and story timeline were rushed and a bit clumsily laid out in my opinion, with exceptionally cheesy characters and one liners. I sometimes got the feeling the author had come up with a story, made a detailed outline and then sat down and blurted it all out on the pages in front of her, possibly on a tight deadline. However, that didn't prevent me from enjoying it.
This audiobook was exactly what I needed - an easy and enjoyable listen. It's addictive and I was barely able to take my headphones off, and will definitely listen to the rest of this series. If you are like me and just want to be whisked away from the pressures of day-to-day life into a world of post-apocalyptic hopefulness and romance - and can overlook the occasional awkwardness - this audiobook is for you.

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How did this get into my library?

I saw one other review that was headed 'easy cheesy listening'. I disagree: it was annoying to listen to. It started well enough, but quickly descended into overblown emotions and people discovering they had magical powers (yawn). The premise could have worked if it was darker and grittier, but bar the sex scenes, I thought I was reading something aimed at children.

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Well written

Well written, and the narrator captured Lorna beautifully. I wasnt expecting a fantasy novel but I cannot wait to start Book 2

1 person found this helpful

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  • Bresee
  • 05-01-20

Ahhhh finally! A book that hooked me!!!

I've been looking for a book like this. one that grabs you right from the get, all the was thro till the very end. This is a well written novel with fantastic characters!!! A few of the characters had me rolling Everytime they had a dialogue. I'm starting book two and was literally up ALL NIGHT finishing book one... There was really only one con, several parts, for me, were a little predictable. However I didn't take any stars of for the bc I felt the book made up for that in many other way but mostly bc, I'm just very very good at predicting story lines. It baffles my husband. So I realized that not everyone is going to find those part predictable like I did. Like the main villain, had him pegged right off the bat. But maybe many others won't see it coming so idk.
Anywho, can't wait to get started on book two... If you like video games, let me put it this way, if Fallout and Skyrim had a book baby, this would be it. GOOD STUFF!

57 people found this helpful

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  • T. Mirandi
  • 11-11-19

The story has zero depth

I’m baffled how this story has such good reviews. The author follows way too many people to add depth to any of them in order to care for the characters. And for a Post-apocalyptic world, everyone seems to have everything they need and everyone with the correct profession to utilize those supplies. What a miraculous safe haven!

46 people found this helpful

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  • Kelly M
  • 05-06-19

Wonderful listen & story

NUMBER OF HEARTS: 5
When the end of the world happens what will you do. Will you take it sitting down? Will you hide and hope it passes you by? Or will you fight with every fiber of your being?

Year One takes us on an amazing journey of the people of the world as they face the end of the world. We meet so many characters along the road, some will be allies and some will be enemies. The question will be can they figure out who is who before it is to late.

This is was a wonderful book. Nora Roberts is a great world and character building. I am very much looking forward to the next two installment in this series.

This was the first book I have listened to that was narrated by Julia Whelan. Julia did a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life for me. I love when a narrator is able to narrate a book and it feels like I am in the story.

Disclaimer:
I purchased this audiobook and this review is my own opinion and not a paid review.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Lizzystick
  • 07-03-19

Umm...not for me

I like a lot of dystopian books/movies and even some fantasy fiction but I do believe a dystopian novel should have some element of "this can in possibly happen in my lifetime" to it , well, when you add in Magik's (magical people) and Fairies into it you lose me. They just didn't fit with the scenario in my opinion, I think they took away from the story instead of adding. I Tried twice to listen to this book because of the good reviews but I just couldn't finish it.

45 people found this helpful

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  • Leslie W.
  • 24-12-18

Best book I have read in a long time!

I hesitated over this book for so long. I just did not think that I would like a dystopian future novel. But I was very very wrong. It took me a day and a half to finish book 1 and I’m now on book 2. I hope she has a book 3 coming out in the next 24 hours or I’m gonna be very upset. This is great writing and great narration. Well done.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Crowd of Nevadans
  • 28-08-19

Don’t listen to bad reviews

This book is slightly YA , but it is an interesting mix and well done
I really liked it

22 people found this helpful

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  • Tracey
  • 15-06-20

1 part scifi, 4 parts hippy housekeeping

can't finish. not for the true sci fi fans. a lot of emotional chatter about setting up homes, boring.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Kit C
  • 20-12-17

If you like The Stand you’ll wonder why you didn’t just re-read that

As someone who loves a good story about the apocalypse and supernatural forces, I enjoyed this book simply (and only) based on those attributes. The story was absolutely derivative, in fact several plot points almost felt like fan fiction versions of The Stand (I’ve read The Stand at least six times, trust me on this point). It was totally obvious to anyone with half a brain what the major plot points would be (who would live/die, etc). I did like the addition of the overt supernatural forces and beings, but the supernatural aspects of the world felt very poorly developed and relied heavily on tropes. So far in this series there’s nothing original or even compelling about the story, but it was vaguely entertaining the way you find an innocuous Hallmark Christmas movie to be pleasantly generic background noise while wrapping Xmas gifts. With all that said, I will most likely get the second in the series because I enjoy pleasantly generic background noise on my commute and I like the topic.

210 people found this helpful

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  • Kitty
  • 07-12-17

Magical Apocalypse "Lite"

I would give this about 2.5 stars if possible.

I am a Nora Roberts fan but not a romance fan. She is one of the very few authors in that genre that I will read. Fantasy/Horror type genres are much more up my alley. So I was pretty excited when I saw that Nora Roberts was releasing a book that was more to my usual tastes.

I REALLY wanted to like this book more. But I found it rather underwhelming.

Now, I wasn't expecting a lot of explicit violence and gory details. But.

It is very much in the vein of iconic books like The Stand or Swan Song. There were even shades of The Walking Dead, in setting more than in the zombie apocalypse sense. The fact is that this was one of the most boring apocalypse scenarios that I've ever read.

The story is told from rather a distant POV. We get very little of the nitty gritty detail of what it would actually be like to live through end-of-the-world-via-plague like you get in The Stand or even TWD. We have the same exit from New York scenario that is standard fare, but apart from a rather awkwardly-worked-in single scene, it's nothing like the harrowing journeys that make you really feel you are by the character's side, and bond with them, and root for them. You get no sense of the daily reality of what it is actually like to LIVE in a post-apocalyptic world.

The same can be said of the "magical" element. People seem to mostly take it for granted that wow, suddenly now people are sprouting wings and hurling fireballs. It's all very ho-hum. The reaction is similar to what you might expect if suddenly discovering a talent for painting, or playing the trumpet. I tell you, if I suddenly sprouted wings and discovered that I was in fact a human-sized faerie, it'd have a hell of lot more impact on my life, my way of thinking about the word and interacting with it!

Then, there seems to be little actual point to the appearance of all this magical ability. It doesn't play much of a part in the story, other than as a dividing wedge between "normals" and "uncanny". We don't get any kind of intimate insights into how it changes people or changes the situation.

Maybe the way this book was written has to do with Nora Robert's usual fanbase and the kind of writing and subject matter they are used to. That's not a put-down, but I generally don't go to NR for gritty realism and heart-pounding adventure. It's kind of like an "Apocalypse Lite" kind of story. Which is understandable and fine if that's what they were shooting for. If the story is geared toward drawing in readers who aren't normally Nora Roberts fans, then not so much.

Seeing as this is her first book dealing with this kind of subject matter I'm still willing to try the next book. Hopefully it will be a bit deeper as far as connecting me to the characters and making me really believe I am experiencing the story along with them.

330 people found this helpful

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  • Dalinah Hluboky
  • 29-05-19

Awful narrator

I had to stop listening at Chapter 7. The narrator makes every male character sound like a bad impersonation of an “old man”. I also found the characters to be weak and underdeveloped. Sorry, but I can’t with this one.

5 people found this helpful