Year One: Chronicles of the One

by Nora Roberts
Rating: Gold-star-star-no-background-clipartGold-star-star-no-background-clipartGold-star-star-no-background-clipart.5
(4.19 stars – Goodreads rating)

Chronicles of the One series, #1

Published December 5, 2017, by St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Fiction – Fantasy

Format: Hardcover

Page Count: 419


year oneAnd some like us couldn’t handle what turned on inside them. They’ve gone mad, like she has. Immune to the virus, doomed anyway. That’s the reality…

The Apocalypse. The complete and final destruction of the world. Why are we so fascinated with it? Maybe we all have to admit to just a bit of doomsday thrill at our core. And after living here for a while, we may just imagine what it would be like to have a planetary “clean slate”.

Remember all those movies that sprung up at the turn of this century – apocalyptic and dystopian? The Day After Tomorrow, The Core, Contagion, I Am Legend, The Road, Armageddon. The end of the world was always upon us (usually originating somewhere around New York – go figure) and we flocked to see how bad that ending would be  — from the comfort of our reclining movie theatre chairs, of course. The same has also been true for fiction lovers. Remember Stephen King’s The Stand? Yep, we love the destruction and gore.

I guess even our romance-writing, relationship-loving, happy-ending-addicted favorite author Nora Roberts isn’t immune to the pull of the story of good pandemic plague. This is a story of survivors in the midst of incalculable death, heroes in the midst of innumerable bad guys, and overwhelming light in the midst of very dark days. And it has faeries!

It fights, it seethes, it snarls, and its creatures scream for blood. It will have blood, both good and ill. But it will never win. Now salt to smother what evil sought to free.

For me to have been so excited to read this fantasy book by Nora Roberts – one of my most-read authors – it pains me to only give it 3.5 stars. It wasn’t bad, but then again, it ultimately wasn’t that good either.

Want to know what this book was? Quick summary: Contagion meets the X-Men meets Little House on the Prairie.

Let me start off with what I liked: The Doom. Even the name gives it the weight it deserves. A biological plague on the land that decimates the human population and forces those that remain into survivor mode. Yes, I’m here for all of that! It passes from person to person quickly and without prejudice. There is no vaccine, no cure, and no escape. It is quick, it is dirty, and it is messy. Any pandemic that can eradicate more than 80% of the planet’s population in less than a year gets my full respect.

Add in the fantasy element: Faeries, witches, warlocks, shapeshifters, and, yes, magick! that all rise like phoenixes from the ashes of society, and you’ve got a recipe for a truly captivating and action-filled fantasy novel. You’d think.  But it didn’t quite turn out that way.

Now on to what I thought was lacking: There wasn’t ENOUGH action.  Sure, in every story the tide of action ebbs and flows. It just seems like there was a little too much ebbing; hence the Little House on the Prairie reference. The survivors set up communities and we learn all about their attempts at husbandry, lawmaking, breadmaking, and baby-burping. Spare me the details. I know these are very important babies; babies that may end up having a hand in saving the world, but dang they eat a lot!

And the grammar police in me wants to mention that the stilted dialogue that appears at some points was jarring. Unfinished sentences were peppered throughout the book and in several instances, it was entirely unclear who the speaker was. That seemed out of character for Roberts.

I wanted more action! The “busy” parts of the book were well written. I felt the danger, the fear, the distress, and the determination. But the parts in between were disappointingly bland and mundane. I know this is a trilogy and that creating a world – even a fiction one – takes some plot-building, but do I really have to know about every time Lana cooks a meal or someone plants some rosemary?

And can we know more about the bad guys? There are so many of them (maybe too many?), but I wanted to know more about the Raiders. Who are they? How did they form so quickly? It’s never mentioned if they are Uncanny or human. Are they motivated just to raid and nothing else? And the dark Uncanny — who are the ones that aren’t in human form? Where did they come from?

Plus, I wanted more of a pull into the next book. At this point, I almost feel like I could walk away from the series and be alright. That’s not what a fantasy series – or any series for that matter – is supposed to make you feel. Truth is, there are so many characters and so many storylines, it was difficult to feel attached to any one character or set of circumstances. Not to mention that at certain times, Roberts takes a few pages from George R. R. Martin’s books and… let’s just say, don’t get too attached to anyone.

I enjoy apocalyptic, dystopian novels. They help me appreciate the relatively calm and generally peaceful world I live in every day. Plus, they remind me to keep my go-bag packed full of new batteries and protein bars. Nora Roberts has put her pen (keyboard?) to the fantasy genre and though it wasn’t all that I expected, it wasn’t a complete disappointment. And what better way to start off a new year than to read about a pandemic plague that almost ends life as we know it?

3.5 stars: This book was alright. It had parts that were really well-written, but, unfortunately, there are things about it that might keep me from recommending it to all.

Get it here: Amazon ; Barnes and Noble ; Book Depository ; Half Price Books

About the Author 

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Born into a family of readers, Nora had never known a time that she wasn’t reading or making up stories. During the now-famous blizzard, she pulled out a pencil and notebook and began to write down one of those stories. It was there that a career was born. Several manuscripts and rejections later, her first book, Irish Thoroughbred, was published by Silhouette in 1981.

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