Review: The End and Other Beginnings by Veronica Roth

The End and Other Beginnings by Veronica Roth

Published: October 1, 2019 by Katherine Tegen Books

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Rating:

Synopsis: Bestselling Divergent and Carve the Mark author Veronica Roth delivers a stunning collection of novella-length stories set in the future, illustrated with startling black-and-white artwork.

No world is like the other. Within this masterful collection, each setting is more strange and wonderful than the last, brimming with new technologies and beings. And yet, for all the advances in these futuristic lands, the people still must confront deeply human problems.

In these six stories, Veronica Roth reaches into the unknown and draws forth something startlingly familiar and profoundly beautiful.

With tales of friendship and revenge, plus two new stories from the Carve the Mark universe, this collection has something for new and old fans alike. Each story begins with a hope for a better end, but always end with a better understanding of the beginning.

With beautifully intricate black-and-white interior illustrations and a uniquely designed package, this is the perfect gift for book lovers. 

Review: Collections of short stories are a bit scary for me, as a reader. They are inevitably a mixed bag. I have never read a single one where I loved every story presented. Ultimately, all I can hope is that I enjoy a majority of them. This collection was so good! I would venture to say it is among the best short story collections I have ever read. Let’s break this down by story:

Inertia: I was thoroughly surprised by this story. I started out not liking it much and by the end I was sobbing. It was told in such a beautiful way and it was emotionally compelling. The basic premise is that in the future there is a technology to allow you to mentally relive memories with someone who is not likely to survive long and individually come to terms with the reality of their impending death. The main character is summoned to a visitation with her former best friend and their journey together is one of the most emotional things I have ever read. The story has stayed with me, even days later.

The Spinners: This story was not quite as good as the first. It was about a set of sisters, shortly after their mother was killed by an alien parasite. They have become distant as one has set upon a quest to exterminate all alien parasites and the other moves on and goes to college. But they are forced back together to take their mother’s ashes to the ocean, as she requested. It was an exciting story in parts and emotional in others.

Hearken: This story is the single best short story I have ever read. In such a short amount of time Roth manages to construct a world with so much beauty and depth. I perfectly understood how this world worked. It was such a great story that it left me breathless and speechless. I am still unable to accurately describe how much I loved this story and how how many emotions it made me feel. This is a world where bio-terror attacks are commonplace, most people don’t live past 50. But there is a music discovered in life and death. Every person has a unique life song and a unique death song. Hearkeners are trained to record and play these songs at someone’s birth and their death to commemorate their life. It was such a fascinating concept. It seems redundant at this point but it broke my heart and made me sob until I couldn’t breathe.

Vim and Vigor: This story was just okay. It had a very different tone from the first three, which is good because I had spent a good three hours sobbing through this book so far. It’s the story of a group of friends who have grown apart and are drawn back together by the love of a comic they all bonded over. It was okay but nothing to write home about. It was about someone writing a fan fiction, but it rather felt like one.

Armored Ones: Maybe it’s because I haven’t read Carve the Mark series (which this story is set in) but I spent a lot of the story confused. When I finally caught up to what was going on it was really interesting but I struggled to keep up.

The Transformationist: Apparently this is also set in the Carve the Mark series but a very different part of the universe. I liked the story. I found Otho compelling and I desperately wanted to see him get himself out of the bind he was in. But I felt the ending was a cop out, and it disappointed me.

Overall, it was truly wonderful, and I think I will go read the Carve the Mark series and then come back to these last two stories. Maybe then I will find them amazing.