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By Nate P. on 02-28-18
Sub-par fantasy novel written by a great romance author
I made up a drinking game based on how many times the word “good” was used to describe “it, him, they, the day, everything, all of... that.” The author’s writing style shined while describing things like an orgasm, child birth, and the calm satisfaction and deep happiness of a holiday with family at a cabin, but was laughably ambiguous when describing the magical powers her characters possessed, and how to use them. I wish she could have established some rules about how the magic can be used, rather than just saying “I felt it growing in me, through me, of me, and I willed it to push and defend.” There seemed to be no limit at all of what it could do, and the knowledge of what Lana could do with magic just seemed to come out of nowhere. It was disenchanting, to be honest.
There were strong parts, however. I felt shock and disbelief and grief when characters died, or when other characters suddenly betrayed our protagonists. Also, the first few chapters were excellent. I was hooked after the first chapter, listening to her description of the family in the farm in Scotland on New Year’s Eve. The world-building when describing the Doom’s spread and each of the character’s origins was also very good.
I believe the title of this review sums it up quite well: a fantasy novel written by a romance author.
The performance of this book was a very difficult endeavor for any narrator. There were at least a dozen characters to be voiced, and Julia Whelan did an excellent job. She was limited when portraying the male characters voices, however, since her feminine voice could only imitate a male voice so many different ways. There were a couple times where I couldn’t tell if it was Max or Will speaking, but I completely understand the difficulty and managed just fine.
94 of 103 people found this review helpful
By Kit C on 12-20-17
If you like The Stand you’ll wonder why you didn’t just re-read that
As someone who loves a good story about the apocalypse and supernatural forces, I enjoyed this book simply (and only) based on those attributes. The story was absolutely derivative, in fact several plot points almost felt like fan fiction versions of The Stand (I’ve read The Stand at least six times, trust me on this point). It was totally obvious to anyone with half a brain what the major plot points would be (who would live/die, etc). I did like the addition of the overt supernatural forces and beings, but the supernatural aspects of the world felt very poorly developed and relied heavily on tropes. So far in this series there’s nothing original or even compelling about the story, but it was vaguely entertaining the way you find an innocuous Hallmark Christmas movie to be pleasantly generic background noise while wrapping Xmas gifts. With all that said, I will most likely get the second in the series because I enjoy pleasantly generic background noise on my commute and I like the topic.
81 of 90 people found this review helpful
By StephYC on 04-06-18
lovely narrator, lackluster story
this novel started out very good. the story was interesting, action pact, and flowed very well. the mystery surrounding the virus and the emerging magic powers kept me enthralled. however about 2/3rds in, the story lost it's way. instead of a story about magic, strife, humanity and its survival; it became a story about cooking, tea time, and pregnancy. Im assuming that the author was setting up for the sequels, but it didn't end on anything interesting enough for me to want to pick up the next books. the last 7 or 8 chapters were just drawn out. it could have been condensed and I wish the villians we're fleshed out a little bit more. they had no motivation other than just being evil for the sake of being evil, they were barely present. showing up for a few paragraphs here and there. and the ritual, the virus, the resulting darkness, the crows, was never explained and felt unresolved.
92 of 103 people found this review helpful
By Kitty on 12-07-17
Magical Apocalypse "Lite"
I would give this about 2.5 stars if possible.
I am a Nora Roberts fan but not a romance fan. She is one of the very few authors in that genre that I will read. Fantasy/Horror type genres are much more up my alley. So I was pretty excited when I saw that Nora Roberts was releasing a book that was more to my usual tastes.
I REALLY wanted to like this book more. But I found it rather underwhelming.
Now, I wasn't expecting a lot of explicit violence and gory details. But.
It is very much in the vein of iconic books like The Stand or Swan Song. There were even shades of The Walking Dead, in setting more than in the zombie apocalypse sense. The fact is that this was one of the most boring apocalypse scenarios that I've ever read.
The story is told from rather a distant POV. We get very little of the nitty gritty detail of what it would actually be like to live through end-of-the-world-via-plague like you get in The Stand or even TWD. We have the same exit from New York scenario that is standard fare, but apart from a rather awkwardly-worked-in single scene, it's nothing like the harrowing journeys that make you really feel you are by the character's side, and bond with them, and root for them. You get no sense of the daily reality of what it is actually like to LIVE in a post-apocalyptic world.
The same can be said of the &quot;magical&quot; element. People seem to mostly take it for granted that wow, suddenly now people are sprouting wings and hurling fireballs. It's all very ho-hum. The reaction is similar to what you might expect if suddenly discovering a talent for painting, or playing the trumpet. I tell you, if I suddenly sprouted wings and discovered that I was in fact a human-sized faerie, it'd have a hell of lot more impact on my life, my way of thinking about the word and interacting with it!
Then, there seems to be little actual point to the appearance of all this magical ability. It doesn't play much of a part in the story, other than as a dividing wedge between &quot;normals&quot; and &quot;uncanny&quot;. We don't get any kind of intimate insights into how it changes people or changes the situation.
Maybe the way this book was written has to do with Nora Robert's usual fanbase and the kind of writing and subject matter they are used to. That's not a put-down, but I generally don't go to NR for gritty realism and heart-pounding adventure. It's kind of like an &quot;Apocalypse Lite&quot; kind of story. Which is understandable and fine if that's what they were shooting for. If the story is geared toward drawing in readers who aren't normally Nora Roberts fans, then not so much.
Seeing as this is her first book dealing with this kind of subject matter I'm still willing to try the next book. Hopefully it will be a bit deeper as far as connecting me to the characters and making me really believe I am experiencing the story along with them.
212 of 244 people found this review helpful
By Dogs & Horses on 01-22-18
Big plot holes. More fantasy than post apocalyptic
The narrator, Julia Whelan, does her usual good job in making each character distinguishable and adding emotion when needed, but without excess.
I love a good end of the world/apocalypse story and a good dystopian future story. I have only read one other book by Nora Roberts and that was years ago, so I wasn't sure what to expect by her attempt at this genre. Year One is sort of a mixed bag for me.
It opens strong with a great look at the first hours of the Doom plague and people's experiences as they deal with the illness, the aftermath and the struggle to decide what comes next. The TV news anchor's perspective was an interesting point of view you don't get much in the genre at large.
However, this takes a turn to magical beings and fantasy pretty quickly. That's where I stopped taking the book seriously and started to lose a bit of interest. By the time the plot jumped from a safe cabin in the wintery woods to months ahead and the white picket fence small town, I was really thinking I had missed entire chapters. How did this group of five suddenly morph into 90 something? Where did all the livestock come from? What happened to them on the several hundred miles journey? Huge plot holes exist through out the book - the government conspiracy issues and imprisonment of magical people is just abandoned, how does a woman lose the love of her life and still manage to "fall in love" with a total stranger just weeks later? I don't think I'll read the next book in this new series. There are a lot of great apocalypse stories out there, but this wasn't one of them.
18 of 20 people found this review helpful
By Mitchell on 12-08-17
best APOCALYPTIC book yet!!!!
If you like books with apocalyptic themes, then you will love this book. There is no doubt this is a 5 star book. You cant ask for a better narrator, Julia Whelan does a flawless job of reading the large variety of voices. This novel is full of heartbreaking scenes and conflict. So readers/listeners be mindful of this, because Nora Roberts does a fabulous job of emotionally attaching you to the characters.
I would have to say its not necessarily a "new" idea for a series, but still wrote in a different and captivating way. bottom line is buy this book and you will not be disappointed. i will definitely be getting the next book!!!
116 of 137 people found this review helpful