Friday, May 28, 2021

Nora Roberts - Year One

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. 

Comment: This is the first installment in the Chronicles of the One trilogy. This trilogy was released between late 2017 and in 2018 but I've waited to have the three books in paperback and this year I'm finally getting to it.

In this story the world is facing a crisis like never before due to a deadly virus which spreads quickly, affecting only humans, and while some die soon after, others seem to be immune and survive. There are others who not only survive but start showing evidence of having weird abilities or an increase of something special, like paramedic Jonah who used to have a feeling if someone could be dying or could be saved and now he knows that for certain. However, not everyone showing new skills has the good and the fair in mind and while those who survived try to find a new way to live, there's also dangerous people out there, looking only for trouble...

How not to think of this as "convenient" but Nora Roberts, along with so many other authors who wrote books about some kind of epidemic disease or virus, certainly didn't see, could not guess, a certain coronavirus would really be something we would need to deal with in real life. No, the virus in this book isn't like the one we face in our lives, but it's indeed weird to hear about these things when they were written before we could even start to see the damage it could cause... weird indeed...

Those who have been fans of the author have come to rely on two things from the author: she writes romance and she writes with a formula. Whether readers like it or not, whether they care or not about that, the point is her style is unique and easily recognizable. I'd say she tried to go away from her comfort zone with this one - imagination/inspiration aside - but having read so many of her books, almost all of them except the ones I'm saving up, I can also see how she didn't quite achieved that.

The idea of this book is not her usual, but then except for medical thrillers or science fiction, who would think of it? However, mrs Roberts is also known for her trademark romance content and in some trilogies there can be paranormal details as well. I'd say this is subtle for the most part because it's not a fantasy world she thought of, just unusual things in a contemporary setting. The same things is seen here but she did go a step further with the powers people got with being immune of the virus. The idea is the "universe" or whatever force compensated fo the loss of billions. I can go with it yes, but it does seem she was going so well into a different kind of novel and then she returned again to her formula... personally I don't mind but I also can imagine how special it could be if she dared to not go there...

Another element a little out of the ordinary for her style is that this book, being first in a trilogy didn't pair up a couple straight away. This one was more focused on how some groups of survivors dealt with the consequences of the virus and death and no one to maintain things. There are many characters being presented, we do have the POV of many but none was center stge until the end. That's when something I didn't foresee happened and the focus seems to go into a kind of "Savior" cliché trope where someone will eventually save the world. I understand this plot choice but it was not something that different from the author's style that I could say I was surprised. It seems, though, the following books will focus on this character as she grows up and gets older. It's different in the sense usually the author's trilogies or quartets focus on adult characters in the same time line.

I can see why some readers felt this was  a wasted opportunity for an unpredictable story from this author. I think the pacing was also a little...rushed, because for a pandemic where weird and new things happen every day, and people are afraid, we saw the main characters seem to reach a goal they set for themselves rather quickly. Perhaps not easily but it didn't feel the changes were happening organically or at a pace one could believe... I see why, the point is to reach an end, a deadline so things can be et for the next installment but... it made some events during the plot feel a bit unrealistic (well, more than what would be if people could actually develop paranormal powers after a virus....).

Nevertheless, I still liked getting to know the characters and if there is one thing the books by Nora Roberts are to me is being entertaining and solid, so I always feel glad I was able to follow the lives of those characters and think along them for a while. I'm curious to see how all the characters are in their lives in the next book since it seems it will be set a few years after this one ended.

Grade: 7/10

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