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Publisher's Summary

A stunning new novel from the number-one New York Times best-selling author - an epic of hope and horror, chaos and magic, and a journey that will unite a desperate group of people to fight the battle of their lives...

It began on New Year's Eve.

The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed - and more than half of the world's population was decimated.

Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river - or in the ones you know and love the most.

As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.

In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.

The end has come. The beginning comes next.

Editorial Reviews

Best-selling author Nora Roberts' new postapocalyptic dystopian fantasy novel is a departure from the romance fiction for which she's known (or the suspense of her alter ego, J. D. Robb), but it showcases the masterful storytelling that fans know and love while embracing the kind of world-building called for in this genre. Julia Whelan's nuanced narration captures Roberts' wide swath of characters and their authentic relationships. When the earth succumbs to a new plague, otherworldly powers manifest, and humans traits come in both life-affirming and monstrous ways in the first of a promising series. —Abby, Audible Editor

©2017 Nora Roberts (P)2017 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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 91 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

95 of 108 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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 "magical" 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 "normals" and "uncanny". 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 "Apocalypse Lite" 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

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

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.

93 of 107 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

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 22 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Tears of joy and sadness

It made me cry and that does not happen often. Tears of joy and sadness. Great story with so much death, hatred, kindness and love. Not matter what happens in real life or fiction these attributes persist in mankind. Good vs evil. Magical vs non-magical......

65 of 87 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Meh...

Wasn't a good apocalyptic or magic/mystery story. I feel like it fell very short in both regards. It was like The Stand and Once Upon a Time had a baby, and boy was that one ugly child.

Just to be clear, the Stand is awesome, Once Upon a Time is garbage, and this book leans more towards the latter.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Novice

Feels like a first try for a new author. The beginning was good enough but towards the middle the story just becomes muddled and silly. I’m trying to finish it but I’ve definitely lost interest.

13 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Thoroughly enjoyed

Content was fantastic definitely different than other apocalyptic novels. Love the characters and content. Left me wanting to keep listening. Love that Julia did the narration. I did not realize when I purchased the book but was very happy. Love her work, her voice and tones. Can’t wait for next book.

20 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon Williams
  • 02-02-18

A great listen

A thoroughly good listen. I'm looking for Year 2 as I listen to the last 5 minutes.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-01-18

Easy, cheesy listening.

Easy to listen to but I found it very cheesy and cringe worthy. The story line (so far) is an unoriginal post apocalyptic landscape meander. I won't be buying the second book to find out if it gets more interesting.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • jj
  • 01-28-18

Great story

Really enjoyed this book, good fast moving story with likable characters. Looking forward to the next one.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Mr
  • 01-31-18

Unoriginal start and loses it way at the end.

The start is so much a rip 0ff of the Stand. A lot of characters getting together and then seem to drop them without reason (the best character being Fred)'

The ending seemed to set up a sequel but was very unsatisfying.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ms. A. Allin
  • 01-20-18

loved this book

the time flew by so quickly. it's a really good story and the reader enhanced my experience. I had quite a few sleepless nights after I just submerged myself into the story. it has horror, sadness, joy and love in it. some bits are really scary and I found them so disturbing that I would take a break for a day then go back to it. I really enjoyed the characters they were very true to human nature,. there were people who wanted to help each other and people filled with bitterness and hatred and people who were just really cruel for the sake of it! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! it's a book I would read again and again. I have done that with some of Steven kings books and all of John Connelly's and some of Christopher brookmyers books. I think there might be more books to follow just by the way the story ended. I really hope there are more!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Karl
  • 01-15-18

Not up to NR’s usual standard

Very disappointing storyline & character development. Have enjoyed NR’s books in the past and especially the Circle Trilogy & was hoping this would be an apocalypse/fantasy mashup but this book had no life, no depth to the characters or storyline. Will be returning it as would never listen again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • d.leafe
  • 06-22-18

Excellent

Really enjoyed it. Not normally what I would choose but written well and narrated fabulously

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • loves2read
  • 06-21-18

Fantastic!

Another great book from Nora Roberts- absolutely loved it. Can’t wait for the next one!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-20-18

loved it

great story and performance by all. eagerly awaiting next edition, will listen to this book over and over.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-15-18

fantasy,hope and heartache

wow!!! I really enjoy apocalyptic stories and this has more than just the struggle. The story follows a group then as you think this is what its been building up to it changes and can't wait for the second book . The narrator is amazing and really immersive. Thank you

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-08-18

Not a dull moment

Loved this from start to finish, nothing like anything of he rs I have read in the past.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sonia
  • 12-12-17

Great book

This would have to rate as one of the best Nora Roberts books I have read.

Engaging characters and interesting story, with a twist on the end of the world story line.

I can't wait for the next one.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lee
  • 02-05-18

Awesome start to a new trilogy. ... can't wait for

Awesome start to a new trilogy. .... cant wait for the next book. makes one think.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 02-01-18

Great story, well written

I could not stop listening to this. Great narration and story telling.
Can not wait till book 2

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sandy lewis
  • 07-08-18

Awesome

I Loved this book by Nora Roberts. It was very Interesting till the very end..

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 06-08-18

enjoyable

loved it looking forward to book 2 and seeing the story unfold in the future

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-12-18

In need of book 2 now!!!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

great book , three friends and I waiting with baited breathe

What was one of the most memorable moments of Year One?

It was os ingrossing I could not put it down

Which character – as performed by Julia Whelan – was your favourite?

I loved the whole story every character was believable

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I cried in a lot of places

Any additional comments?

one of her best books

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 03-29-18

Awesome !

Stephen kings the stand mixed with Netflix movie Bright ... awesome read, can’t wait for the next one !

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kevin
  • 03-28-18

wants to keep in keeping on<br />

great story. want more. I have found me a new favourite author. bring it on.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kay-Anne
  • 03-27-18

An Interesting Crossover

I absolutely loved the storyline and crossover of genres. definitely one of Nora Robert's best.