Cover Image: Arch-Conspirator


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It’s been a great while reading Veronica Roth’s work again. I really enjoyed this book. I remember reading about Antigone in high school and thinking it was shockingly interesting. I really enjoyed Roth’s take of Antigone in a sci-fi setting. Thank you so much NetGalley for giving me this opportunity to receive an early copy. I will definitely recommend this book to my students. Can’t wait to purchase a physical copy next time I am at a book store.

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EDIT: I received the audiobook and tried again, and I loved it! Sometimes I'm a mood reader, and I probably just did not give this story enough of a shot originally. I really loved Roth's other works.

I enjoyed the story. I loved the overarching feminist themes and the character's sacrifices. Also, I found the love story to beautiful and well-developed in such a short space.

Highly-recommended. It's a very fast read and one I would recommend if you enjoy retellings, dystopias, and science fiction.

ORIGINAL: I had a hard time getting into this story and didn't connect to the characters fast enough. Somehow the world felt a bit opaque.

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I was really surprised by how short this novel was. But once again Veronica made me happy to read a book by her. at first I struggled to keep up with the different POVs but slowly caught on. I have never heard or read anti-gone before so I really enjoyed reading a sci-fi retelling of it and seeing where the story would go. I already bought my hard copy of this book

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A serviceable retelling of Antigone. I thought that the sci-fi setting actually worked very well, and Roth has a clear and easy writing style. I felt that the number of POVs didn't serve the story very well, however, and wished it was limited to just two.

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I had never read or heard of Antigone before and had no idea where this story was headed. I really enjoyed this dystopian world as I always do with Veronica Roth. She is a master story teller when the world is beyond bizarre. Although I will say the emphasis on women being wombs and nothing else was a BIT too close to home living in Texas right now.

I thought the story itself was really interesting but it was almost too fast as a Novella and could have benefited from more depth and pages. Antigone, Eyrudine, and Ismene were so interesting as characters but I feel like I didn't know their personalities. I even came to enjoy the male characters that were seen less and needed way more on them.

Overall, I definitely recommend this as a quick sci-fi dystopian read, especially if you don't know the story going in. The ending is a sucker punch to the brain and leaves you not knowing much of anything.

Thank you NetGalley, Veronica Roth, and Tor for an advanced copy of this book. Pub day is 2/21/23.

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Book Review: Arch-Conspirator by Veronica Roth

Arch-Conspirator is a novella length science fiction novel about an alternative earth and a rebellious young woman who defies her tyrant uncle. It is also a retelling of the Greek tragedy Antigone.
Antigone and her siblings live under the protection and control of their uncle (Kreon) after the death of their parents. Kreon is the ruler of their community which might be one of the last areas on earth that can support life. When Kreon passes down an edict that will keep Antigone’s twin brother’s DNA from being kept in the city’s archive she defies his orders to collect it herself. The punishment for defying Kreon’s orders is death and Antigone will have to rely on her own smarts along with assistance from her unwanted fiancé (and Kreon’s son) Haemon plus the local rebel group in order to survive her punishment.
I loved this short novel about familial love and a woman’s rebellious spirit. It took me a little to understand their world but once I did I really enjoyed Veronica Roth’s world-building. Since it’s based on a Greek tragedy their is a lot of death and loss in this story but ultimately there is also a lot of love and hope as well.
I highly recommend this novella to anyone that enjoys dystopian worlds and re-imaginings.

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With Arch-Conspirator, Veronica Roth brings us an imaginative retelling of Antigone with a science fiction twist. Our setting is the sole surviving place on the planet, a place surrounded by radiation. Our characters are similar to those in the original Antigone, but neither Eteocles nor Polynices ever succeeded Oedipus. Creon, militant and unyielding, has ruled since his brother's demise. Also, the four siblings are believed soulless, as they were conceived naturally instead of by the gene-enhancing procedure that is the heart of this society.

Our story is short, but sweet and filled with different POVs of everyone doing what they think is right. Perhaps some of them even are right, but the story ends the only way it can. With Antigone and Ismene blast off into space.

Overall, I liked this novella. It wasn't an exact translation of the myth--characters went in different directions and there was a spaceship to contend with--but it was a fascinating take on it. My only complaint is that with Antigone still alive, it felt a bit unfinished.

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*3.5 stars

If you're looking for a fairly accurate retelling of Antigone but set in a sci-fi world, I think you'd really enjoy Arch-Conspirator.

I read the play Antigone right before reading Arch-Conspirator and I'm so glad I did. You definitely don't need to read the play to enjoy this novella, but I think it will help reinforce the themes and you'll get a better understanding of what Roth was trying to do with the characters.

The world-building elements and the way the book ended were great! In fact, I just wish the book was longer and more fleshed out because there was so much more Roth could have done with this world. I get that it's supposed to mirror the play which is pretty short, but it could have been a richer story IMO if this would have been a novel.

Part of the reason is there were too many POV characters. Antigone works well, first, because it is a play, and second because the audience is standing outside the action observing it. In Arch-Conspirator we are put into many first person POVs. We sometimes get POV chapters from a character just one or two times. That made it really hard to connect with any one character.

It also made the book too complex theme-wise for its size. It tried to tackle too many things at the same time. IMO, it would have been better to take a third person perspective on the story, focus a bit more on the sci fi aspects of the world-building and on just one or two key themes.

That being said, I still think this is worth a read, especially if you have enjoyed Antigone.

*Thanks so much to NetGalley and Tor Books for the digital arc. All opinions are my own.

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I have fallen in love with Veronica Roth’s writing and was eager to pick up this new novella. Like all Roth’s works the writing is amazing, if less so than Chosen One’s and Poster Girl. Overall, I was left wishing for more.

I had no idea that this was a Greek retelling until reading the Characters names. People do not name one Oedipus on a whim. While I am a bit rusty on the myth this did not seem to quite match up. Even still, it should hold value on its own. And it was just too short to do so.

There are multiple POV all told from first person. And a complex story and a new world all within 124 pages. While I enjoyed what we got it just wasn’t enough for it to stand on its own. So I am conflicted. I enjoyed it and yet feel almost cheated after finishing it. If not cheated, then unsatisfied. It just should have been more.

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I'm not too familiar with the original Antigone, but I have to say I really enjoyed Roths's sci-fi/ dystopian version.
It has everything you could want, family, rebellion, death, maybe a smidgen of love sprinkled in there, and being sent off into exile to die. How Roth has written it really sucks you into the story, and I can't wait to see what she is going to write next.

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This very quick read was a sci-fi, dystopian, post apocalyptic retelling of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy, Antigone.

In a world destroyed by nuclear war, the survivors continue humanity by gene splicing and every woman is forced to bear a child not conceived by the parents.

In this world, which is very much like Ancient Greece, Antigone’s uncle is a tyrant and her twin brother has joined the rebels to help end the tyranny.

All of the characters in the original play are here in this book, but with a sci-fi element.

I didn’t know the story of Antigone so before I started reading this, I jumped on Wikipedia and got the synopsis. I enjoyed Roth’s take.

*Thank you to Tor Books and NetGalley for the advance eGalley.*

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As a fan of the original Antigone, it was very cool to see multiple sides of the tragedy! Also will forever love Veronica Roth

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Ever since I read Allegiant on release day and marathoned it until that controversial ending, I've somehow been unable to finish any of Veronica Roth's other books. They sound right up my alley, but something holds me back—until now with Arch-Conspirator.

I loved this reimagining of such a brutal and tragic play. I think it's hard to comprehend Oedipus's family and specifically Antigone's life because of the elephant in the room—incest—but somehow Veronica Roth twisted the this play into her dystopian, sci-fi whims and create something just as painful, yet warning of readers of humanity's prejudices and self-destructive nature.

In a world where radiation has devastated the planet, the last city on Earth survives in its safe lil' bubble, hoping for the day where they can inhabit the rest of the planet again. Humans have reached "immortality" through the Archive, where genes of every dead human are stored, and hardly any natural conceptions occur due to the prejudice that those born naturally, without the Archive, do not have souls. Souls are Extracted within 48 hours of the individual's demise, and an Extractor is placed under their bellybutton to retrieve the soul. You find out later due to context clues that the "soul" is actually that individual's sex cells (sperm or eggs), which creates a fascinating thought about identity and ancestry. Are we destined to be exactly like our ancestors? I'd immediately say "no," but then my question becomes "why/ how did this world start to see sex cells as immortality?" When the world is a ravaged wasteland of natural disasters or even radiation, what will we believe about ourselves to bring comfort? Anything.

Antigone and her siblings were conceived naturally. Oedipus and Jocasta wanted children that looked just like them, and now the rest of their city sees these children as grotesque, soulless shells. They're a cry against nature in this city's eyes, and they pay the price for it. Antigone and her siblings lose their parents after a violent riot. The first freely elected leader—Oedipus—dies by violence, and now she and her three siblings live with their uncle Kreon, who is a tyrant in everything but name. A lot of pain and hatred boil under Antigone's surface because of these circumstances, and she cannot withhold it when she's around her siblings Pol and Ismene. Her oldest brother Eteocles actually plays servant to Kreon, so their relationship is pretty much nonexistent at this point. And just like in the original Antigone play, familicide and rebellion force the plot to unfurl at top speed. The Antigone play was destined to be retold in a sci-fi, dystopia lens, and I'm so thankful Roth wrote it for readers.

Arch-Conspirator does not leave much room for twiddling thumbs or slow conversation. It's 128 pages of pure rage and loyalty. Antigone is my favorite kind of heroine. She's prickly and frank, angry and empathetic. She makes a promise to her brother in a restaurant and will throw her own life away to keep said promise. My only critique is that I wish I had more pages of her. I wish we got to see some of the siblings longer, but I also understand why their time was cut short because this is Antigone's story. Antigone reminded me of a young girl named Tris, but also, Antigone was wholly her own with a sense of self and direction most characters could never dream of having. She's got a destiny, a plan, and she'll see it through.

In many ways, Arch-Conspirator is one of the most true-to-source reimaginings that I've read in a long time. The end definitely switches gears in its own unique conclusion, but I still think it is extremely reminiscent of the play's end. Also, while I don't know tons of details about the Antigone play, I loved the relationships explored by Roth. The engagement tension between Antigone and Haemon, Kreon's son and heir, was one of the most notable. Again, I wish we got more page time with them because of Antigone's initial hatred of him, which blends into neutrality and curiosity by the end—maybe even a bit of regret.

I'll always have an infinite amount of questions when it comes to this world, characters, etc. because it's a novella. My time was limited, but I'm so happy that I got to explore it in the time I had. If you're a fan of the original Antigone play and have a taste for sci-fi and dystopia, please pick this up.

Thank you Tor Books and NetGalley for the eARC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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A concise retelling of Antigone . . . now I need to go back and review the original. Readers who have no background knowledge of the Greek play may want to research a bit before reading. This would be interesting to pair with Antigone in a class and use as a springboard for retelling another story.

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Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book.

Veronica's Roth's dystopian treatment of the mythical story of Antigone struck a poignant chord with me. Despite the short length of the novella, it was easy to see the deep bonds between Antigone and her siblings as well as the conflict regarding her uncle. However, while this tale *alluded* to many thought-provoking issues and situations that were established in this world, the world-building itself was lacking. There were more questions than answers surrounding the world and why/how things were the way they were.

I really enjoy the author's writing style, and I was engrossed in Antigone's grief and fate. I don't know if Ms. Roth intends to write more works along this line, but if so, I would be interested in reading them. The one caveat, however, is that I would just want more - more history of the world, more establishing where they are in the universe, just more.

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Veronica Roth, the author of the post-apocalyptic Divergent trilogy, offers up a powerful retelling of Antigone, the classic Greek play by Sophocles. Set in the last human city on a wasted Earth, Antigones must go against the city's ruler's will to honor her brother's last wish, that his ichor, his genetic material, be included in the city's Archive, allowing his body to be chosen for rebirth. Natural reproduction is forbidden in light of a diminishing genetic pool, and to complicate matters, Antigone and her siblings were all born in violation of that, marking them as soulless to others.

Since her brother was part of a plot to overthrow Keron, both their uncle and ruler of the city (and all of terrestrial humanity), an edict has gone out that his ichor may not be extracted for preservation. Apparently having some premonition of how things might go, the day before he died, the brother asked Antigone to promise she'll perform the extraction herself to see that he's not left out of the Archive.

If you've read the Greek play, or even if not, you may have some sense of how things go from there. Antigone says yes, the uncle says no, the people are on the edge of revolt, and they call them "tragedies" for very good reasons.

Roth is a terrific writer, as anyone who's read her Divergent books, Divergent (2011), Insurgent (2012), and Allegiant (22013), or her numerous short stories, already knows. Her new telling of this classic tale gives it a modern presence that makes it both powerful and accessible through its combination of a modern voice and the deeper connection with a reader that a novel, or in this case a novella, affords. Recommended.

(From my Amazing Stories column: Science Fiction To Look For – February 2023)

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Wow. I loved this crazy retelling of Antigone by Sophocles. Roth clearly loved the play because she treats the dialogue like a sacred book and retells it with more passion, emotion, and exposition. The post apocalyptic theme was actually really interested to me, mixed with dysgenics. I thought it was a cool play on…the play. Haha

Ismene was more fierce in this novel, and I felt like Roth did a great job describing her dilemma and creating a…not better ending, but a more affectionate one. It won’t have a sequel; there is a clear ending. It’s also a fast read.

Set in a distant future where nuclear war has devastated the earth and only one city survives in a vast wilderness, Antigone and her siblings fight for their family. Born an abomination, through natural reproduction rather than spliced genes, Antigone’s twin Polynikes, and her siblings Eteocles and Ismene, are forced to live with their Uncle Kreon.

Antigone’s Uncle is responsible for her parents death during a riot in the city. Her father wished for a free election and democracy, but was killed during a protest turned riot. A riot that Kreon could have stopped as military commander.

When Polynikes, a rebel leader, and Eteocles, Kreon’s right hand, are killed at each other’s hand, Antigone feels she must break a law to protect her brother’s soul. She finds surprising strength in her betrothed Haemon, a cold but ever present protective shadow in her life who she begins to see as more than his father.

When she is caught Kreon makes a startling decisions that wrenches the city and his family apart.

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Archconspirator by Veronica Roth is the story of Antigone, who must stand up against the odds for her beliefs. When Antigone's brother is killed in a failed coup against the Creon (the leader and their uncle), Creon makes it unlawful for anyone to give him proper funeral rites, branding him as a traitor. Antigone must decide: stay safe and alive, or defy her uncle's orders to do what is right?

I hardly have words for Archconspirator. I may be biased, because Antigone is one of my favorite plays, but this is truly one of the most fascinating and unique retellings I've read in a long time. Veronica Roth's signature sci-fi style is the foundation, and she does an excellent job showing how themes explored in ancient plays and mythology are still relevant today. This was an excellent study on fascism, but with updated themes of bodily autonomy.

Honestly, the only reason that I rated this 4 stars is because of the length. The story seemed too short, too rushed. This easily could've been expanded into a novel length story, especially exploring the relationship between Antigone and Haemon. This was more of a vignette, as if I were getting a glimpse into their lives. Still, I loved this novella more than I thought I would - despite knowing the ending, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.

Thanks to Netgalley and Tor for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Such a fun spin on a classic tale! Veronica Roth does it again. ;) I really enjoyed this novela and how fun it was. Can’t wait for her next book!

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This is a retelling of the Greek play Antigone, of which I remembered nothing but the ending, but a lot came back to me while reading this, and a Wikipedia check confirms that this largely sticks to the main plotlines but set in a dystopian future. 
I enjoyed this, and it's very short so I was able to get through it in a little over an hour. I liked the way it was set, and the themes it brought up about the role of women in society, particularly in light of recent political events. It also makes you think about the meaning of the soul, as well as the impact of the evolution of science and medicine. 
As I mentioned, this is very short, so there's not a ton in terms of character development, but you do get multiple perspectives, which does give you some insight into their motivations. 
Overall this was interesting and I liked it, and would recommend it if you have any interest in Greek retellings, or mythology, or anything along those lines. No need to have read Antigone in high school!

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