Book Review: Year One

Year One by Nora Roberts


The Doom came fast—with the death of a pheasant to the ending of over half the world’s population. And in the midst the dead and dying were rumors of a magic, some wondrous and strange, others dark and twisted and evil. As the survivors struggle to recover from the aftermath of the pandemic and manage their newfound powers, evil rises.

It’s like Station 11 and The Stand had a magical baby that didn’t quite know what it was.

Plague books scare the piss out of me, mostly because the idea of a pandemic that kills indiscriminately is horrifying and entirely plausible (see: current coronavirus taking hold in China).

However, this is less a plague book and more of a mishmass of plague and magic, and a rise of magics out of the ashes of technology.

While it was entirely enjoyable, I think my main problem had to do with the writing. The writing is shit. It’s bad. It’s choppy and I had to reread mass stretches because I had absolutely no clue what Roberts was describing or saying.

And the book tried to do too much and got lost in itself.

Book about pandemics and plague? Check. Book about people banding together? Check? Book about a foretold prophecy and The One Who Will Save Them All? Yes. Book about magic and ordinary people learning to live alongside people with magic? Yes. Huge cast that gets developed and cast aside at random? Yes.

My second main problem was with the vast size of the cast. At first it was cool, because it captured the vast horrors that the survivors witnessed, experienced and overcame, but then the last four chapters just took all of that development and care over these wide amounts of characters and shat on them. Literally shat on them.

It was like 80% into the story Roberts was like, Fuck, right, I’m writing this kind of book now and scrambled to get to the ending so that The One could appear. Whoooo boy was that clunky. And I wanted those beloved characters back, instead of what’s-her-face, because she was my least favorite character of all.

Finally, this was some of the straightest shit ever and super focused on a gender binary. There were a couple of queer people, but they were all secondary characters and felt tossed in. But the focus on men and women and stereotypical gender norms was…whew.

You’ve got witches, warlocks, sorceresses, elves and fairies, but not one trans or nonbinary person?

Anywho, despite all of my bitching, this was an enjoyable read. I was entertained throughout even if I was frustrated by the book itself.

This should surprise no one, but I probably won’t continue with this series. I felt like it needed a couple more rounds of editing before publication.

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