cover image Arch-Conspirator


Veronica Roth. Tor, $19.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-250-85546-6

Readers who are tapped out on The Handmaid’s Tale as a parable for the current cultural moment will celebrate this taut, defiant reenvisioning of Sophocles’s Antigone, which brilliantly probes many of the same themes. Bestseller Roth, best known for the YA Divergent series, turns from trilogy sprawl to the confines of novella and expertly meets the demands of the form, offering just enough worldbuilding and keeping a tight focus on her well-drawn characters’ difficult choices. Antigone and her siblings are given refuge by Kreon, who overthrew their father’s government. Not only is it politically expedient for Kreon to keep his dead rival’s children alive, it’s necessary—because this is a postapocalyptic scenario: all genes are compromised, and every “viable womb” is precious to the state. The siblings are ostracized because they were naturally conceived and thus believed to be soulless. Souls can be embodied only by mixing the purified genes of the dead, who are then reborn via the surrogacy of the living. Though believed to be tainted, Antigone and her sister Ismene can still serve as such vessels. But when murder blights their lives again, will Kreon respect the right of Antigone’s beloved dead to be reborn? The plot preserves the shape of the original without ever losing the capacity to surprise and, more importantly, prod reflection and recognition. This powerful tale of reproductive oppression is sure to wow. (Feb.)