The End and Other Beginnings is a collection of short speculative fiction stories written by Veronica Roth of Divergent and Carve the Mark fame.
I somehow missed The Carve The Mark series, and other reviewers tell me that several of these short stories are from this world. They are all based in a future world of one kind or another. I think I enjoyed it because in a word, it’s weird. I haven’t read anything like it this year in the YA sphere.
The first story, Inertia, reminded me of a Black Mirror episode in the best way. In this world, when you are close to death, you can request a visitation where you and the person of your choice relive a memory together. Although it sounds desperately sad, it wasn’t, and I could see how an experience like that would make it easier for the human brain to let go if that was it’s fate.
Many of the other stories are indeed gut-wrenching, so it isn’t a book to pick up when you are already feeling low.
All the stories involve some science fiction aspects, either technology or advanced customs that we don’t have yet. I say, however, because most of the stories include tech that we have a simpler version of already.
An exchange Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) have in the first “Thor” film has always stuck with me:
ERIK: I’m talking about science, not magic.
JANE: Well, “Magic’s just science we don’t understand yet.” Arthur C. Clarke.
ERIK: Who wrote science fiction.
JANE: A precursor to science fact!
Anyhow, back to this review. I’m thinking about buying a copy for myself and using it with my 14 yo as part of our Lit study. We’ll be reading other short stories, and this collection will add a fun new element to the older short stories that I’ve prepared already.
I would be thrilled if each story inside got finished into a novel. But, if you have a reluctant reader, this might be their gateway book. Choose one story and read it aloud. I bet the teen in question will be curious enough to pick this book up and read more on their own.
It’s available now.