YA superstar Veronica Roth (author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent series) makes the leap to adult science fiction and fantasy with Chosen Ones. Her new novel follows a group of teens after they’ve defeated a terrifying evil and attempted to return to some form of normalcy. But after the death of one of their own, it becomes clear that their enemy may not have been defeated after all. Chosen Ones is a deconstruction of genre tropes, an exploration of trauma and recovery, and a thrilling adventure all its own.
Roth, who lives in Chicago with her husband, tells us what she’s been reading lately.
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
I just finished this story, a delightful and engaging tale of two agents on either side of a war fought via time travel, falling in love through the letters they leave for each other. It is precisely and skillfully written—on the very first page, the remark that agent Red has “come to knot this strand of history and sear it until it melts” had me hooked—and it’s exactly my favorite thing: science fiction trappings with a strong emotional backbone. Consider this me putting the book in your hands and dismissing you to read it immediately.
Tenth of December by George Saunders
Lincoln in the Bardo was one of my favorite reads last year, so when I found this collection of short stories in my local bookstore recently, I couldn’t resist picking it up. These stories are unpretentious and profound, beautiful and strange, wise and occasionally grotesque, and occasionally wise because of being grotesque, in the way that only George Saunders can accomplish. I was particularly affected by the titular “Tenth of December,” in which a suicidal, terminally ill man encounters a boy in a dire situation, but it’s impossible to pick favorites here.
Exhalation by Ted Chiang
I love short stories, so I’ve been on a bit of a kick lately, and Exhalation was a definite highlight. These stories are conceptually fascinating and emotionally resonant, concerned with human frailty and vulnerability even in the midst of the futuristic and strange. “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom,” about the costs and benefits of communicating with parallel versions of ourselves, “Exhalation,” about what makes a person, really, and “The Great Silence,” a short but nonetheless startlingly powerful story that I won’t describe because I could not possibly do it justice, were particularly powerful for me.
Author photo by Nelson Fitch.