Ark – by Veronica Roth

Here we go again, another story from the Forward collection – I mean, the end of the year is approaching and I must Finish Things Up, otherwise… nothing will happen anyway, but still. Okay, so let’s talk about Ark by Veronica Roth, whose name of course I knew because who hasn’t heard about Divergent?, but whose work I had never actually read before.

Title: Ark

Author: Veronica Roth

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Publication Date: 17 September 2019

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 33

Standalone or Series: Standalone (included in Forward, a collection of entirely independent stories by different authors).

Synopsis: Life on Earth is about to be destroyed by a cataclysm, and humans are escaping in space, bringing along whatever they can save. Young scientist Samantha spends her time cataloguing plant samples to be preserved by the survivors, however she doesn’t plan to join their desperate journey herself, instead she prefers to stay behind and contemplate her world’s ultimate destruction. Her blooming (and doomed) relatioship with fellow scientist Hagen, as well as the discovery of a new flower, however, may inspire her a new appreciation of life.

Analysis: Ark is written in third person from Samantha’s point of view, ideally digging deep into her inner life. The tone is contemplative and melancholic, fitting the subject of the story.

While Ark counts as sci-fi because of its setting – where the end of the world is imminent and humanity has a more advanced mastery of space travel, good enough to at least try to evacuate the planet – neither science nor the apocalyptic scenario are indeed the main theme of the story. Indeed, the fact that the end of the world is framed in such a generic fashion – the impact of an asteroid, as opposite to anything human-made – only makes it more apparent that the apocalypse is just a plot device.

A similar setting could have had broader implications to explore, but what really matters is Samatha’s personal anguish, nostalgia, emotional and aesthetic moments. Which, don’t get me wrong, could be a valid choice in itself; I am not here chiding authors for being too intimistic or individualistic or whatnot! A good character study of a person living through such extreme circumstances could have had a great potential indeed.

Except, Samantha’s inner journey isn’t all that satisfying. Sure, there are moments of beauty and charm, because bittersweet memories and apocalyptic angst are really easy to sell like that, but the story falls flat when it approaches its greatest, supposedly inspirational twist: the last scene implies that Samantha’s last experiences inspire her to change her mind, deciding at the last minute to leave Earth and give life a chance no matter what; and okay, I am glad for her, but as a plot it was quite predictable, and at the same time all her previous musing hadn’t built a really compelling escalation for her change of heart. Nothing of this is inherently terrible or wrong, however I found it a bit underwhelming, especially considering it constitutes the only real appeal of the story

Conclusions & Recommendations: While I wasn’t very impressed by this story, I still kind of enjoyed the reading experience; if you like intimistic stories without too much of a plot, you can give it a try – worst case scenario, it won’t take you too much time.

Content Warning: Death – Death Of Parent – Suicide – Terminal Illness

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: