I can’t believe I have finished the ‘Divergent’ trilogy. I already started missing the characters I love and the world I have come to know through Veronica Roth’s superb storytelling, before I even finished this book. So, now is the time to give the ‘Divergent’ series a proper send off.
by Veronica Roth (October 22, 2013)
The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered – fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by betrayal and loss. So when she is 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 new and simple life together free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties and painful memories. But Tris’s new reality is even more troubling than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless and explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. Once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature – and of herself – while facing impossible choices about courage, sacrifice, love and allegiance.
I loved the first two books in the ‘Divergent’ trilogy and was eagerly anticipating its conclusion. I had no doubt that Roth would wow me like she had with the first two books, but while “Allegiant” was still terrific, it just didn’t measure up to the first two in this series. The book begins a week or two after the last book’s game-changing revelation and cliffhanger ending. The faction-based society has been overthrown after another major battle has been waged and the factionless have taken control of everything, by force. The trouble is, trading one deeply flawed system ran by a tyrant and robbing people of certain choices, for another deeply flawed system ran by a different tyrant, just means people will still be robbed of the same choices.
And once again, there are those who dissent and they are planning both an uprising and an escape from the city. Many of the characters who have mattered so much before: Tobias, Tris, Christina, Cara, Zeke, Peter, Tori, Johanna and Uriah are aligned with a group calling themselves the Allegiant. By the first 100 pages, those who are part of the group who are meant to leave the city and see what is outside of its fences have escaped. And the real world, as they come to find it is nothing like they expected or could have imagined.
This book’s most promising premise was what would happen when the world as someone knows it is a lie. The earth shattering revelation that the previous book ended with was just another half truth at best (some would say it was a downright lie) which led them to discover the actual truth. And that truth is hard to take for everyone. What is really going on in the real world (and how large that world is when you were led to believe you were the last people who had survived) is one thing everyone must grapple with. Another of these revelations: why the city was established in the first place, what was its purpose and why everything that has happened, actually happened. The villains of the past turn out to be nothing more than pawns and a new enemy emerges, much more dangerous because it is subtle, alluring and makes absolute sense.
Like true trilogies this book changed the rules about everything. “Allegiant” takes the world that Roth has created and shows how it was nothing more than a deception and shows the reader an entirely new and different world – both from the real world we know, and the previous society Roth has created. While the history of the world is a lie that everyone discovers and deals with in their own ways – Tris’s personal history and the truth about her parents and who they were is one more secret Tris must come to terms with.
“Allegiant” is like one great character study because when faced with such truths, it forces characters to grow much faster than they should have to, or is the source of their downfall. Some characters are overwhelmed and sink inside of themselves, others become obsessive about learning more, some bent on assimilating to this new reality, others desperate to forget and go back to everything they knew before they knew the truth, and still a few who are just plain desperate.
Roth uses a dual perspective in this book, and the story is told both through Tobias’s and Tris’s eyes. I am not sure how different they sound from each other, and there were times where I forgot who was speaking. This bothered me, because if you are going to write from different points of view they should be so distinct that you never forget whose head you’re in. But I did. They did sound different from one another, but only in terms of how different their personalities were and had become in this book, rather than their actual voices.
Tris has grown much wiser in this book, and I wonder if this is who she has grown into, or if she had become this person at the end of the last book, but with everything that happened, I was too caught up in the action to notice. On the other hand, Tobias (Four) has become much more insecure and childish and there were a few times where I just wanted to shake or smack him. This is how the two sounded different, but then again they shared the same desperation and perhaps that is why their voices sounded so similar.
One thing that I disliked about this book was the unnecessary death. I am not talking about collateral damage from a war (all unnecessary death in some ways) but Roth killed off two characters that mattered and yet their deaths didn’t. In the first book, as well as the second, there was a lot of death, because it was war after all. I even mentioned in my “Insurgent” post how one of the deaths in the last book made me put the book down until the next day. Death sucks, war sucks and where there is war, there will be death. But everyone who has died so far, died for a reason (in terms of significant characters or ones with names). In the first book Tris’s parents sacrificed themselves for her, and this pushed her character first in the wrong direction, and then in the right one, in the second book. It reinforced where she came from and who she was and would later become. The death I mourned so much in the last book caused events that needed to happen, both in terms of plot and in other characters and their development. Every death has mattered in some way… until now.
The two characters who died in “Allegiant” I just couldn’t find reason for. No one grew out of their deaths and their deaths were not needed to make something happen. They were just killed off, and while I am sure Roth did not take either death lightly, I still have no idea as to what she was thinking when it comes to the end of these two characters. The first death happened about halfway through, and I kept hoping it was some kind of fake out. It was hard to read after that, but I kept at it, hoping Roth wouldn’t let me down… and then fifty pages before the end the second death hit and it really did hit me hard. And then it pissed me off. From an intellectual standpoint I can see how it was a ‘terrific’ end as the character died being true to themselves (I am avoiding genders) or poetic in some way, but it was not necessary and it tainted the outcome of the book for me. Hell, in some ways it cast a shadow on the entire trilogy. It is great that Roth creates characters in this book who matter this much, but it also sucks when she decides – game over.
I don’t know how I feel about “Allegiant” as a conclusion to a series (I really did expect more, and I am not sure I like how it ends) but as the rule-breaking, game-changing third book in a trilogy it is top notch!