Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #3
Published by HarperCollins
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia, Fiction, Fantasy
The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered – fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.
But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningliess. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend to complexities of human nature – and of herself – while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.
The third and final book in the Divergent trilogy, Allegiant is an ambitious, gutsy novel. It is packed with revelations upon revelations, twists upon twists; it takes huge risks when it comes to the fate of its protagonists; and the decisions with which they are confronted. At the same time, Allegiant stumbles in its ambition, with developments that don’t quite make sense; plotholes, ludicrousness, and deus ex machinas abound. But… at the end of the day, it is this reader’s opinion that Roth’s gutsiness pays off. Even the expectations were quite high following the dud Insurgent.
Review of Allegiant
To use a Divergent image, even though Allegiant doesn’t quite make it down that zipline from the Hancock building in a triumphant, graceful streak of glory, it goes for it. And I appreciate that very, very much. But I’m getting ahead of myself again. Let’s talk specifics:
When you think about both Divergent and Insurgent, there was very little actual world building that went on. We established the faction system and the way it functions in Divergent. We also established the problems inherent with that system. In Insurgent, we explored those problems more by watching the breakdown. And then, in the end of Insurgent; we find out that it’s all an experiment intended to save the outside world from war and violence and poverty.
Let’s get to Allegiant. Everything in the video is a lie (so, in a lot of ways, everything Tris did at the end of Insurgent was for nothing). The outside world is basically Chicago 2.0, only instead of being divided by personality type people are divided by the extent of their broken genes. It’s an interesting thought and a cool platform for philosophizing, but so much is crammed into this book that we don’t have time for those subtleties. Basically, we have one book to learn the mass of information we need to know about the outside.
This info dump is compounded by several things:
1) Everything we thought we knew about the outside is a lie and some things we thought we knew about the people on the inside is a lie, too;
2) Tris knows nothing about the outside so things that we know about as readers keep being off-handedly explained to her and also not explained to her;
3) A lot of what Tris has to figure out is science and history, and there’s not the sufficient background needed to help with suspension of disbelief.
This is clearly supposed to be far into the future – at least seven generations? – but fundamentally it’s still the world we know. We knew that because of the fact that Chicago was clearly recognizable. But knowing that everything on the outside is basically still functioning through our government and that the same kinds of issues still cause problems? Something about that made me question every piece of information thrown at me.
There was too much information introduced in this book for it to be the closing of a series. I honestly think this whole series would have benefited from a fourth book.
Tris came a long way in Insurgent and she learned a lot of things. I thought, overall, she was doing well and continuing that trend (until the end, which ruined everything). But here was my problem with Tris: besides what happened at the end, was she wrong about ANYTHING in this book? It’s like she could perfectly read every situation and every person, and she was kind of a condescending jerk about it. She wants to act like she’s never been wrong, but I remember her surprise at Caleb’s betrayal. I remember that it took a bit for her to figure out Evelyn was Four’s mother. And that she didn’t see Al’s betrayal coming, or even Eric’s. Or that she didn’t see through Evelyn’s plan until it was already happening. Tris isn’t infallible, and I liked that about her.
Those mistakes made Tris human.
But in Allegiant? she’s suddenly perfect. She is smart and strong and skilled and canny and selfless to a ridiculous extent. It makes it hard for us to blame Tris when she’s annoyed that people are ignoring her or not trusting her gut. It also makes Four’s journey that much more difficult to handle, because knowing that she’s always right means that he’s always wrong. And he kind of is.
I really wish we had not gotten Four’s point of view in this book. I’d say a big portion of the problems I had stemmed from the dual points of view. Fundamentally, we had to learn everything new through both characters because obviously they reacted differently to everything. This really slowed down the pacing and bogged this book down in repetitive back story.
His sections of the book were indistinguishable in both tone and voice. Though Tris and Four complimented each other so well in the first two books – made an excellent team of equals – they are also very different personality types. Sure, they have similar characteristics – the same kinds of things make them tick – but they go about things in a very different way.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t find Four likable in this book. I got flashes of the Four I loved, but he was so mired down in all of his weaknesses that reading his portions of the book was really hard. He is the one that was so mad at Tris in the last book for lying, and he is the one that told her at that he should trust her and not hide things from her. But, what happens? Four finds out that he’s not really divergent (um, ok?), and then he completely breaks down and immediately loses all the growth he’d accomplished in the first two books and does something stupid.
Part of me understands that the point is that Four isn’t perfect; he has four fears, but those four fears are so much bigger and more terrifying than most people’s ten or twenty (or my thousand). He has Major Issues. However, I knew that about him already. We already watched this struggle with the need to do something to make the world better and also the need to protect Tris and be a good man in the face of incredibly difficult choices. We spent a book watching him deal with his feelings for his mother and father, even if we never watched him deal with those things from this point of view. It was wrenching, but it made him grow.
This Four is broken. He has lost all of the defining elements that made him Four. He is weak and indecisive and insecure and, most surprisingly of all, irrational. His participation in Nita’s plan baffles me. Since when has Four ever blindly trusted anyone’s plan (or anyone, for that matter), let alone a stranger’s? It made no sense to me, even in context of losing his identity.I don’t even know what the hell to make of what was going on with Four. I did not understand his motivations. I did not understand the personality he suddenly exhibited. It felt like he was simply moving forward the plot instead of being Four.
None of the background characters went anywhere significant. I did not learn anything new about Cara, Christina, or Uriah. I could have eliminated all three of them from this book and everything would have been the same. Peter and Caleb showed no growth or change(*both cowards*) As for Natalie Prior, I thought her back story was interesting.
There was a rash of seemingly senseless deaths in this book. The people from the Fringe? We barely learn anything besides their names, we barely see them and they don’t teach us anything new about the inside or the outside. Then we get to Nita, who plays a major role and then just seems to disappear.
This plot was repetitive. In Insurgent, we have to overthrow the tyranny of Jeanine Mathews. In Allegiant, we have to overthrow the tyranny of Jeanine Mathews 2.0/3.0. It is the same struggle. Of course, on one level that makes sense. Tris is chasing this problem up the chain. She’s discovering that the root of this problem is bigger than Jeanine Mathews and that the outside and its problems never really stayed outside. I did appreciate that aspect.
The pacing was an issue. It was slowed considerably by the excessive amount of info dumping and also the dual points of view. And it also felt formulaic.
And good lord the ending of no sense. The holes in this plot were insane. The main conflict seems to be that the Bureau, who has controlled Chicago and Tris’s life, wants the Chicago experiment to keep going. Tris wants those people to know the truth and be free. (Four doesn’t seem to know what the hell he wants). In order to keep things going, the Bureau wants to wipe the memories of Tris’s friends and the families of her friends aka antidotes to basically every serum, there was SERUMS UPON SERUMS! (there are death serums, and memory serums, and zombification serums, and fear serums, and truth serum). Her grand solution? Wipe the memories of the bureau instead. Erase their memories of genetic prejudice.
Which brings me to: THE ENDING (aka, the source of all the internets rage). Opinion is split when it comes to the efficacy of the ending, and what readers are owed by the author when it comes to Allegiant‘s particular finale. I don’t think I’ll get into the discussion of reader expectation and what obligation, if any, authors have when finishing a book or series (suffice it to say that I feel like in Allegiant‘s particular case, this has more to do with marketing/publicity approach failure). And… Have to say, I thoroughly, wholeheartedly appreciated the way Veronica Roth chose to end this book.
I don’t mind character deaths in books. When handled correctly, they are touching scenes that teach the reader something. I think about Dumbledore dying and my chest aches. And thinking about so many other deaths in books, from Rue in Hunger Games to Bridge to Terebethia; I know that deaths of characters you love can matter and make a book beautiful and better and teach you things about yourself and the world and love and all of it. Frankly, I’m surprised that more dystopian novels – especially of the violent persuasion – DON’T end this way. Death has to matter. And Tris’s didn’t.
Ultimately, Allegiant is a book that has its many flaws and missteps, but it’s an ambitious book that goes for all the marbles. Even though it doesn’t quite hit that high sweet note, I appreciate its gusto. I don’t regret reading this book – or this series – for a second, and can earnestly recommend it to fans looking for a thoughtful dystopian YA trilogy.
“I suppose a fire that burns that bright is not meant to last.”