Year One is the first book in the Chronicles of the One trilogy by popular American author, Nora Roberts. A deadly pandemic is devastating the world: it seems like, but perhaps isn’t, an avian influenza, highly contagious and 100% deadly, within days, to those not immune. It began on a farm in Scotland, where the McLeod family were engaging in their traditional New Year’s Eve pheasant hunt, but it has quickly spread around the globe, and no vaccine is effective. People soon call it The Doom.
The few who do not succumb have immunity, and most are simply intent on surviving, and helping others do the same, but such apocalyptic change inevitably brings out both the best and worst in human nature, and there are those bent on gaining power, on cruelty and destruction, working to their own malicious or misguided agendas. Whatever the virus is, it seems to have favoured the survival of those with certain abilities (soon referred to as The Uncannys) and, inexplicably, enhanced their abilities. Alarmingly, enough of the Uncannys are tending to a darkness that makes them a major concern for the benevolent.
As the story progresses, we follow the progress of three groups of people as they flee the city, searching for loved ones or a place to begin again. Arlys, Chuck and Freddie are dedicated to keeping the world, even in its reduced state, informed; Katie, Rachel and Jonah’s main concerns are the three babies in their care; Max and Lana are quick to see the bigger picture, but find they have a responsibility greater than they could ever have imagined. They have survived the Doom; will they survive what is to come?
Roberts has a real talent for creating characters that the reader is willing to invest in and care about, and it’s easy to credit Stephen King’s quote on the rear cover “I love Nora Roberts”: she effortlessly equals his power in storytelling. The characters and their interactions are at least as important as the plot, which certainly does have elements of predictability, but there’s also a great twist to make it really interesting. Book Two, Of Blood and Bone will be eagerly anticipated. Recommended!