Veronica Roth’s Ark, her contribution to the Forward collection, is perhaps the most emotive and well-developed character study of the things I’ve read from her. I enjoyed the Divergent series as an adult, enough so that I was disappointed the movies never completed the story even as the movie adaptations managed to disappoint in the liberties taken with the narrative. In only a small handful of pages (under two hours of audiobook), Roth succeeded in capturing a particularly satisfying, somber snapshot of the world weeks away from an unavoidable apocalypse.
As an asteroid approaches the planet, sure to make it uninhabitable for humanity, we join Samantha and a small group of orphan scientists in Svalbard, Norway where they are cataloging and collecting biological samples of as much plant life as can be salvaged. A similar project is simultaneously taking place in Australia, focused on animal life. These small pockets of humanity are all that remain on an evacuated Earth. The rest of the human population had already left aboard generation ships, while those dedicated to the flora and fauna catalog risk everything by remaining until only a matter of a few weeks until impact. As the time approaches to say goodbye, we manage to feel some small amount of the desolation and loss through the quality of Roth’s storytelling.
Evan Rachel Wood’s narration is spectacular. Her voice easily capturing the interwoven tone of sadness and hope of this short tale. I’d honestly love to hear her narrating more audiobooks. She’s got a terrific range and capacity to bring characters to life.