Supernatural: One Year Gone is a book that fits in between series 5 and series 6 of the TV show of the same name. This review doesn’t dig deep into spoiler territory for series 6 but if you’re not caught up with series 5, are worried about spoilers then you may enjoy it more to catch up with the TV first. I think right now Supernatural 5 is still available on Virgin Media’s on demand services for free.
I was a fan of Supernatural at the start of the show. It was sold back then as “scary just got sexy” in TV trailers which is an odd memory given the sinister twists the plot has taken in recent years. I’ve also not always been able to follow the series, but I’ve found it easy to return to and picked up again at the start of series 5. I actually think that the book One Year Gone could also serve as a pick up point for the whole series. If you want to catch series 6, which has just started on TV, then reading this book might well work.
One Year Gone is closely connected to the TV show at a genic level. The forward is from Eric Kripke who created the series. It’s written by Rebecca Dessertine who is actually Kripke’s assistant. Dessertine is closer to Supernatural than many of the guest authors who are sometimes invited to pick up a popular TV series and make the books work. Dessertine is a also a good writer. She writes as Supernatural feels.
I don’t want to underplay that last sense. Rebecca Dessertine writes as Supernatural feels. One Year Gone feels like a Supernatural book. This is the story’s most important success.
It’s a tricky story to write – at the end of series 5 we are given a glimmer of hope. We see Sam watching Dean. Dean believes his brother to be dead – and maybe he’s right. There are no retcons in this book which clash with series 6. This is a plot that features both the Winchester brothers but it does not reunite them.
We don’t know why Sam is out of hell. We do know he feels different. As this is a book we enjoy a greater level of character introspection than possible in a TV series without narration. I see this as a good thing. I don’t consider it a spoiler; we don’t know the whys and how-comes, we just have better clarity on how Sam feels.
One Year Gone is a funny title for the book. Sure, we’re exploring the year between s5 and s6 but we’re also exploring generations of the Winchester family all the way back to the Salem witch trials. The family of hunters were known as Campbell back then and were pushed to the brink of destruction by the evil events that occurred.
The action picks up again when the Winchesters are back in Salem. This does not happen straight away. There’s a piece where we’re with Dean and his guilt issues over what happens to Sam. Perhaps I’m a jerk. Perhaps it’s because I know Sam is walking around – or some of Sam, at least. Perhaps it’s because we’re already done guilt and Dean too death – but I was very happy when we finally got to the witch infested Salem.
Reaching Salem does not come without a cost. Lisa and the 10 year old Ben come along. To be fair, in One Year Gone, neither character are annoying. In fact, Lisa seems close to perfect – willing to be the understanding partner, looking after Ben, not being freaked by Dean’s past and helping out in the occasional fight too. One Year Gone wrestles with the Ben and Lisa issue fairly well – are they part of the plot, or not? If they’re part of the plot will the always be the family in distress than need to be saved?
You can see how this formula will quickly become boring. Fortunately, One Year Gone has some twists in the plot that keep it interesting – twists that probably wouldn’t be possible in a TV series either.
I enjoyed One Year Gone. It was an easy read. A candy read; I could pick the book up and chew through a few chapters in one easy go. That’s rather how I caught up with s5 of the TV season too.
Just before I sign off, I think it fitting to leave you with a share made by Supernatural megafan the blog Body of a Geek Goddess. Are you Sam-curious too?