Tuesday, 5 December 2017

REVIEW - YEAR ONE - CHRONICLES OF THE ONE BY NORA ROBERTS

Title: Year One
Byline: As This World Ends, A New One Begins
Series: Chronicles Of The One
Author: Nora Roberts
Genre: General Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Piatkus, St Martins Press.
Release Date: 5th December 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
With one drop of blood, the old world is gone for ever. And in its place, something extraordinary begins...
They call it The Doom - a deadly pandemic that starts on a cold New Year's Eve in the Scottish countryside. There's something mysterious about the virus and the way it spreads. As billions fall sick and die, some survivors find themselves invested with strange, unexpected abilities.
Lana, a New York chef, has the power to move things and people with her will. Fred can summon light in the darkness. Jonah, a paramedic, sees snatches of the future in those he touches. Katie gives birth to twins, and suspects that she has brought fresh magic into the world, along with new life.
But The Doom affects people differently. Along with the light, a dark and terrifying magic will also rise. As the remaining authorities round up the immune and the 'Uncannies' for testing, Lana, Katie and others flee New York in search of a safe haven. The old world is over, and Year One has begun.

PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I'd yet to read anything by Nora Roberts, so when I discovered this book had a deadly virus that seemed to be suggesting it would have an apocalyptic feel to it, I thought it was the perfect book to read. I was a little unsure about the Uncannies, what they would be and what part they would take in the book but the promise of the apocalyptic feel tempted me enough to give reading the book a chance. 

There are multiple covers for this book, though the one I love the most is the one featured above this review which is a stark white cover with a large crown that looks like its ready to grab some sort of prey with its claws. There are also feathers shed around in the air/space surrounding the crow on the cover. The cover features a great byline "As this world ends. A new one begins" which fits the book perfectly. The font and colours on the book title, byline and author name all suggest darkness, and give a distressed apocalyptic feel to the cover. The cover is naturally the first thing you see and it certainly attracts the eye and makes you curious enough to know more to pick up the book or click to read the blurb. I think its a great cover and fits in with a few scenes in the book.

The genres I have seen assigned to this book so far have been General fiction, Fantasy, and Romance which I do agree with but personally I would also add, pandemic, post apocalyptic and magical. This book really has a fantstic mixture of genres that really do work well together. The virus is a major part of the book and its effects cause the world to spiral downwards pretty quickly making the world apocalyptic. Then there is the elements of magic with the Uncannies. There are many different kinds of Uncannies featured in the book, from people who can touch someone and see how they will die, to seers, those who have prophetic dreams, witches both good/light and bad/dark ones. 

I loved this book so much I feel a little at a loss as to where to start reviewing what I have read. It really is an amazing read! It all begins with the Macleod family, who are celebrating at the family farm at Dumfries, Scotland, as they do every year. The only difference this year is that a couple of family members are missing are Tony and Katie, and that's because Katie is heavily pregnant so was unable to travel safely and comfortably.  Ross, brother Rob and their cousin Hugh are out doing their traditional hunting and shooting whilst the women stay at the farmhouse cooking and baking all the food and making the preparations for the New Years Eve party. The Macleod men folk have a good shoot bringing home even more food to be prepared and cooked for the party. The party is in full swing when an old lady called Mrs Frazier grabs hold of Ross and says "The shield would be broken, the fabric torn, by the blood of the Tuatha Danann. So now the end and the grief, the strife, and the fear - the beginning and the light. I ne'er thought to live for it" Ross just lays his own hand over the elderly ladies, thinking to indulge her odd behaviour. Though some in the area believe Mrs Frazier to be fey. Others just think doddering and perhaps not all there in her mind. But when she continues speaking to Ross telling him it starts with him, he feels chilled to the bone as if he has been stabbed at the base of his spine. The old lady continues with the prophecy oblivious to the effect it is having on Ross. The party goes on and then ends with everyone finally retiring to bed to get some sleep before having to travel home the following day. When Ross gets up the following day he complains of feeling a little off. The family laugh it off putting it down to eating and drinking a little too much. Unfortunately Ross and his wife Angie along with all those that attended their New Years Eve party have contracted a strange new virus that comes to be referred to as "the Doom".  Ross and Angie become the first two victims of the Doom to die but they have also spread this awful sickness to everyone they have had contact with. So everyone at their New Years Eve party, the rental car clerk they return their hire car to. They've also infected the porter who carried their bags, all the other passengers on the plane they traveled home with. Then those they infected have also spread the sickness to everyone they have had any interaction with and so on and so on.

The book then switches to other groups of characters and how they are coping in the increasingly dire consequences of the Doom. It seems some people are immune to the disease, which you would think would be a good thing, sadly with the world in chaos there are those who looting, stealing and killing just for the hell of it. There are also lots of strange sights being mentioned, such as those who now have wings and can fly, or people who can turn the street lights on and off with a flick of their wrist. These people are being referred to as the "Uncannies". As with everyday people there are good and bad, or as it is referred to in the book those who have the light within them that wish to heal and do good things as well as those who have the dark in them, who are violent and do bad things.  The world has become a darker more dangerous place to try to survive in, let alone have any sort of life in. 

We meet and follow different groups of characters. Like Jonah and Patti-Ann the paramedics that bring Ross Macleod and his wife into the hospital. Dr Rachel Hopman who is trying to find out what this weird rapidly debilitating illness is. Sadly more and more people die, it becomes apparent those in the medical profession have no real idea how to treat this disease all they can do is try to make the patients last hours as comfortable as possible.

Another person we meet is Arlys who at the start of the epidemic is a lower ranking TV news reporter but rapidly rises through the ranks as reporters die or fail to turn up for work. Arlys is determined along with a few workers who manage to continue to get into the studio to bring news updates to all those who have locked themselves in their own homes. Arlys is in regular contact with a computer hacker called Chuck who gives her the real news he has found out rather than the "official new updates" the government are releasing. It becomes more and more apparent that the government are trying to hide the scale of this disaster. Soon the situation becomes impossible and Arlys has to choose whether to deliver the real truth in her news report. Later in the book Arlys and TV station intern Fred flee before they can be arrested for telling the nation the truth. They have to make a dangerous journey across the city, seeing some gory sights, lots of violence as well as a few acts of bravery and kindness.

Probably the most important characters in the book and for the future of the world are witches Lana and Max. They have been living together just 6 months and practicing their witchcraft. When the Doom begins it seems that the witches power grows and they certainly end up needing that extra power on more than one occasion in the book. I won't explain anymore about their major roles in the book as it would reveal too much.

It seems the way to survive is to band together in little groups. People are trying to cross cities to family or friends they haven't been able to contact since the outbreak began. Some are reunited, others find their families perished either due to contracting the disease or being killed by others that wanted something they had. At times it seems like certain characters have found a place of safety and are well on their way to rebuilding society and the world but then someone who either wants what they have or are just set on violence and destruction, come along and take it away. Then the virus continues to kill people as well as giving power to some who cannot cope with it. 

I guess this makes the book seem all "doom & gloom" but it really isn't. There are those who are willing to help those in need, such as Dr Rachel Hopman and paramedic Jonah who continue to turn up at work at the hospital helping those with the virus die as peacefully as possible and treat others that at survivors of violence or have more normal needs, such as mothers giving birth. When Jonah feels he can take no more of the illness and devastation around him and is going off alone, he is stopped by Katie when she is in labour. I loved the feeling of irony that it is Dr Rachel Hopman that helped Katie's parents Ross and Angie die as comfortably as possible, and was then the Dr who delivers Katie's twins. 

This book really is like a rollercoaster ride, as just when a successful settlement seems to be working, there are those who seek to spoil things for everyone by taking more than their fair share. You would think after all that has happened both with humans and the Uncannies they could live side by side, grateful to work together for a better future, but still there are people who refuse to work together and will not accept Uncannies can be good and be part of a community.

There are lots of characters I love in this book, one of my favourites who features heavily in the book is Lana who uses her increasing powers for good and to help people. When she has to scavenge for food or clothes she only takes just enough for what she needs and even offers to barter in exchange for food. I am looking forward to reading more about her in the rest of the series too. Another character who comes into the book nearer to the end of the book is Simon, who is living on his parents farm, growing food and is willing to share what he has with anyone in need that passes by. Simon used to be in the army so knows how to handle a gun which comes in very useful when people seek to take things he has worked hard for. 

At first I thought I wouldn't like the Uncannies element in the book but it does end up really fitting in well with the whole virus, pandemic and the apocalyptic components in the book. I loved the majority of the people that created and lived in the settlement they called New Hope, sadly there are those that bring disaster to Hope. Though I'd like to know who actually did survive and what happened afterwards. Maybe some of the characters will be re-introduced in the next book. There is a bit of a jump at one point where the different individual groups suddenly are together. I would have loved a little more detail on Max, Lana & Eddie's journey and those they meet that tag along with them. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series and learning much more about the baby that is born at the very end of the book as well as the babies that were living in New Hope too.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were Brilliant! Loved it from beginning to end. What a great mash/mixture of genres resulting in a really fantastic book.