‘Year One’ a disappointing foray into new genre

Jennifer Reinfried, Business Director

Nora Roberts is a name many people are familiar with, even if they haven’t read any of her work. She specializes in romance novels, having written hundreds in multiple series and standalone alike.

Roberts has won multiple awards, even getting the title “America’s Favorite Novelist” by The New Yorker. She’s a publishing and writing sensation, pumping out book after book, starting one sometimes the day after her last one is finished, and a great number of these end up on The New York Times’ bestseller list.

Interviews with her reveal she’s a sassy woman who doesn’t take any crap and who has a pretty fantastic sense of humor.

All of this made me pick up a copy of “Year One,” one of her latest books. I can’t be caught dead reading a romance novel, but upon skimming the jacket copy, I was intrigued. “Year One” tells the story of a mysterious plague’s survivors.

The sickness – much like the flu in Stephen King’s masterpiece, “The Stand” – is called… The Doom.

Here was a well-known romance author branching out into an entirely new genre: post-apocalyptic horror. Right up my alley. Silly plague name aside, I bought my first Nora Roberts book that day, excited to start reading it once my stack of library books was complete.

“Year One,” however, is nothing but a disappointing mess.

The very first thing I noticed while reading was the descriptions, or lack thereof, that led to confusion surrounding characters and even dialogue. The way Roberts structures many of her sentences in this novel, readers are unaware of who is talking, and suddenly, a new person is in the conversation but you have no idea when they joined. Additionally, it took me a good five chapters to even realize the character named Fred was female.

That’s how lacking this book is with descriptions and dialogue tags.

Along with that, Roberts’ sentence structuring throughout “Year One” is lazy and confusing. Almost every character is pointless. Some are important sure, but every single one of them is boring and difficult to care about. The antagonists are comically terrible, like a Saturday morning cartoon bad guy style, which made me roll my eyes so many times times that they became sore. No one was conflicted; either they were “good” or they were “bad”, making this book very, well, boring.

Yep. Nora Roberts made a book about a world-ending plague absolutely boring. And, to top it all off, the pacing of the book is ridiculous. A few chapters will be crazy intense, then the ten following will be about how they are taking inventory of food over and over and wondering how to write laws for their new town…which sounds important, but no. It’s just boring. I found myself skimming through much of it, wishing it would just end.

I had high hopes for my first Nora Roberts book based on her success as an author. “Year One” even landed hundreds of five star reviews on Goodreads and other sites.

I just really don’t understand how that’s possible. I find myself constantly questioning whether or not I should even bother with a picking up a novel by this so-called favorite novelist.