Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #3
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on October 22nd, 2013
Shelve It: Goodreads
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 meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.
To say that I was disappointed by Allegiant, the conclusion to the Divergent trilogy, would be a huge understatement. While this series was never one that blew me away, I did find it enjoyable, if problematic. With Allegiant, the plot holes are out in full force and the introduction of the dual PoV resulted in the loss of distinction between the characters and their voices. With the actual deconstruction of one main character, and a contrived ending that asked for an emotional reaction from its readers instead of allowing them to come to that conclusion organically, Allegiant is the unfortunate ending to an otherwise enjoyable series.
Having escaped the confines of the city, Tris and co find themselves at the Bureau, the place which was designed to oversee the Chicago experiment. After various, lengthy explanations about something called the Purity War, where those who had been genetically modified to have the genes that caused dishonesty, selfishness, cowardice, stupidity and aggression removed became more violent instead of less, the government of the United States decided to launch large-scale behavioural experiments where the genetically pure genes would be introduced to the genetically damaged, resulting in the repair of those genes through sexual reproduction over the course of several generations. What I couldn’t figure out was why the scientists responsible for gene manipulation were unable to use the genetic engineering prowess they already had to modify the genes of the genetically damaged offspring, instead of waiting for sexual reproduction to filter out those genes over a period of several generations. Since they introduced the genetically damaged genes, could they not also remove them? Or find a way to repair them? This wasn’t touched on, and quite frankly, it came across as a glaring oversight.
Plot holes aside, in tone, Allegiant was also completely different than its predecessors and I think, other than the events being too far removed from the dystopian society I had come to enjoy, the biggest reason for this was because of the dual PoV. Tris and Four were lifeless shells of their former selves; the constant switching of PoVs was disorienting, especially the further into Allegiant you got, because they began to blend into one voice. The distinctions in their personalities fell to the way side as Four took on more and more of Tris’ characteristics. While Tris finally reached a point where her emotions no longer dominated her choices and she was able to think rationally through her insecurities, Four became unable to make a rational decision, even when his life depended on it. The characteristics I appreciated in the first two novels, his confidence and courageousness, are gone. In their place is an emotional wreck, who’s judgement was often clouded by his own insecurities. But the biggest disappointment with Four’s deconstruction was that his name no longer rang true. Four from the first two novels never let his fears get the best of him, he never let his fears control him. In Allegiant, Four’s actions are ruled by his fears, which made his mistakes that much more devastating.
With so many varying plot points, I found Allegiant to be unnecessarily convoluted, to the point where I forgot about the different events I was supposed to care about. By the time Allegiant returns to the conflict between the factionless and the Allegiant, I was so removed from the situation that it felt meaningless and insignificant; it felt like a sham, like the results didn’t matter because they were just a behavioural experiment. And then for the answer to their conflict to be so…cheesy? It felt dirty and dishonest.
Easily the biggest reason for my disappointment with Allegiant, however, was because it was boring. At a staggering 500+ pages, I needed something other than bureaucratic drama and personal relationships to keep my interest. While there were a couple action scenes, I was so far removed from the events that I felt like a bystander, rather than as an active participant. Allegiant failed to pull me under its spell, to make me care about its characters and the consequences of their actions. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I felt like the ending was contrived.
View Spoiler »From a character perspective, Tris sacrificing herself for the greater good makes a lot of sense. She’s already proven that, as a reckless person, she makes those snap judgments when she feels its necessary. But I think it was because sacrificing herself wasn’t something new, that I felt it wasn’t genuine. Having just realized that she had sacrificed herself in Insurgent because she was hoping to rid herself of her guilt, Tris knew that she had a lot to live for, and, more importantly, that she wanted to live. Why would she risk everything, for the sake of memories? I think that’s the part that sits the most uncomfortable with me; Tris’ sacrifice in Allegiant is, ultimately, meaningless because she doesn’t save anyone from dying. Had she failed at her mission, worst case scenario was that the inhabitants of the Chicago experiment would have been reset and the main conflict between the Allegiant the factionless would have disappeared. This kind of oversight is pure carelessness and makes me believe her demise was written for shock value. I think Roth knew that her readers would forgive her for killing off Tris and that they would be more emotionally connected to Four’s grief than if any other character had been killed off. « Hide Spoiler
With every other conflict ultimately resolved in a tidy, and seamless way, Allegiant was found wanting. I wanted to feel an emotional connection to these characters and their fates, but the way Allegiant solved all of their problems removed that as a possibility. I wanted to be satisfied by the ending to an otherwise enjoyable series, but the contrived ending robbed me of that possibility. And I wanted to be taken on an emotional journey, where the consequences of everyone’s actions to this point rose into a crescendo of action and danger and suspense, but Allegiant’s detached progression of events left me feeling ambivalent and quite underwhelmed.