In terms of the books she’ll write in her career, Veronica Roth couldn’t have done herself a bigger favor than writing the Divergent series first. I will go on record to say they are truly and utterly terrible. Not only do they tap into that post Hunger Games market in ways that I do believe Roth wrote earnestly (as opposed to a cynical cash grab that I DO blame her publishing company for putting), so they made a ton of money, but it also sets her up for a lot of future success. So now that she’s a little older and a lot more polished, her books are solid. They’re also a little bit critique proof because of the early (and young quality of her Divergent books).
Anyway, this is a collection of longish short stories, almost all of which have a world-building feel to them, and almost each of them could be expanded out to a novel or novel series. They do feel like a half-step above (in terms of maturity and readership) from YA stories, and stand out as pretty creative for the most part, with a few glaring moments of trope-hammering here and there.
The opening story involves a medical procedure that allows people to convene in a virtual space as a last conversation before death or potential death. This story allows two teens to look back over a friendship/flirtation from a year back and learn that their individual perspectives caused miscommunication and misunderstanding between them. Another story involves some members of a future (now fallen) society that can tap into the “music of the universe” in order to read the vibrations of the universe (string theory) and communicate the information there. And others involve other similar, but distinct visions of the world.
It’s a perfectly solid collection that is weirdly connected to those early books in ways I hope Roth continues to outpace as a writer.