The End and Other Beginnings: Stories from the Future

Katherine Tegen Bks/HarperCollins/. Oct. 2019. 272p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062796523.
Gr 7 Up–Roth has spun six futuristic short stories, interspersed with illustrations and centered on themes of love and death. Four are completely new material and two are built in the “Carve the Mark” universe. The first story opens as a young woman is summoned to have a “visitation” with her estranged friend—new technology where people are invited to electronically relive favorite memories with a dying person. The technology is well conceived and the meeting is poignant. Another story revolves around a young woman being trained as a “Hearkener,” someone who can hear the universe’s songs and struggles to decide whether to specialize in songs of life or songs of death. A third story involves using unique technology to make decisions by experiencing the virtual reality of each outcome. Overall, the stories are excellent and could easily be incorporated into middle school classroom discussion. The “Carve the Mark” stories, however, are confusing. Followers of that series will enjoy the expansion of the concept, but those unfamiliar will have the sense of starting on Book Two of a series.
VERDICT The collection will resonate with fans of the BBC’s Black Mirror. Roth is a favorite, and this anthology will be a welcome addition to all YA collections.

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