Book Review: Allegiant

Allegiant2

Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)
Date Published: October 22, 2013
Number of Pages: 526

 

After revealing the truth about the society in which she lives, Tris Prior finally escapes to the world beyond the fence only to learn that despite everything she thought she’d discovered, things are still not quite what they seem.

That seems like the vaguest possible description for this book and there’s good reason for that. Let me start by saying I was beyond excited to read this last book in Roth’s series, I loved Divergent and Insurgent and because I’m a giant nerd I may or may not have counted down the days to Allegiant’s publication. I prepared myself for the usual two to three days of ignoring everything in life but the book and devouring it as I’ve done in the past. But that didn’t quite happen. I don’t want to say that I didn’t like the book because that’s not true. I’m glad to have experienced the completion of Tris’ story, I’m happy that Veronica Roth took some chances and made some stylistic changes (namely the dual perspectives between Tris and Four/Tobias) but I can’t help but feel that this final part of the story lacked the ingenuity and ease of the first two. To be blunt, it was a little all over the place.

The dual perspectives was a great add-on to the story mostly because Four is a character that you want to know more about. He’s just as integral to the story as Tris and it was nice to see his point of view because it helps to put things into perspective. It also makes you, as the reader, question whether Tris is always right. I liked that. Instead of having us blindly follow Tris, Roth gave us reason to doubt and question her motives – adding a level of complexity to the story that wasn’t there before.

Tris and Four

I love the relationship between these two characters. I love that they are both so flawed and that they are constantly making mistakes but that they always find their way back to each other. I found it incredibly touching when Tris (in chapter 36) comes to the realization about relationships and having to forgive over and over but that it is a choice you make. I thought it was an incredible show of vulnerability and the most human she appears in this last portion of the story.

*SPOILER* Do not continue to read if you don’t want to know how it ends

There’s been a lot of disdain, incredulity and rage all over the net about Roth’s decision to kill Tris. I have to say I don’t know why – the character always had a SUPER death wish. I mean in a way it was kind of her major character flaw. Tris Prior definitely suffered from a Messiah complex. In her attempts to always do what was right, to save other’s from the evils around them she was always willing to make the “ultimate sacrifice.” I mean in Insurgent the girl willingly allows herself to be led to her imminent death. I don’t even know how many times she ends up being shot through the series but it’s a lot. Her death was pretty much always in the works. It was clear she was not going to get her happily ever after. And I’m okay with that.

What I’m not okay with is the somewhat of a hot mess Allegiant turns into. I desperately want to love this final book. And though I commend Roth for going against the grain, for not being afraid to kill off her protagonist (a character whom no doubt she loved dearly) the impact of Tris’ death does not hold the same weight as say Dumbledore’s in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The major difference being that when it came to Dumbledore’s death Rowling had a point – it was part euthanasia but it was also integral to maintaining Snape’s role as Voldemort’s right-hand man and ultimately ensuring Harry’s success in defeating He Who Must Not Be Named.

In comparison Tris’ death seems almost unnecessary and sloppy. First – Tris is more than just a soldier, she’s a leader, a rebel and a revolutionary, and despite her anxiety about guns when it came time for her to get into the weapons room I can’t possibly believe she would have left her gun behind, regardless of whether or not she thought the possibility of encountering someone in the room was slim to none. The fact is there was still a chance. And Tris is not a character who leaves things to chance. Secondly, and more importantly, prior to this whole “sacrificial lamb” change of pace did she not go on about wanting to live? About recognizing the importance of life and fighting for a way of life that was free from division and autocrats? What purpose did that diatribe serve? Finally, I don’t care how much she loves her brother, he aided and abetted in leading her to her death. And he did so with little remorse. He even acknowledges that his willingness to sacrifice himself (to break into the weapons room) was because of his guilt not because of his love for her or anyone. (Perhaps this is just an example of my harsh stance on forgiveness for people who try to kill you.)

No doubt there’s a contingency of fans out there who are truly upset that Roth killed her main character solely because that’s kind of a big taboo in these types of stories. But I like to think that there’s an even larger group of fans out there who recognize the major holes in Tris’ “sacrifice” – namely that it wasn’t one. The fact is her death was poorly executed. Though I don’t think Roth’s intention was shock value, I think her point was muddled in its development.

Sacrifice vs. Selflessness

There has also been a lot of debate about sacrifice vs. selflessness and whether Roth confused the two. I don’t think so – that Tris was certain she could survive the death serum suggests she wasn’t really being sacrificial. That she in fact did survive it only to be shot by David proves that she wasn’t making a sacrifice, she was just being Tris and taking another risk. Was she being selfless? I think so. Was she intentionally sacrificing herself? No, not at all. She knew she could survive the death serum. And she did. But I reiterate, why would she leave her gun behind? Is it possible that a part of her wanted this ending? I wouldn’t blame her if you know, she was just tired of everything. She’s only sixteen and look at what her life has been.

Where I think some creative liberties were taken when it comes to selflessness is with Evelyn. It’s strange that a character who was so hard, so determined to get her way, not afraid of using the death serum on her own people to maintain control of the city would just back down from ruling because her son promises her a relationship. That’s a little far flung. Talk about a deus ex machina. It’s weird that Roth didn’t blink an eye at killing off her protagonist but stopped short of all out war when it came to the city Tris was trying to save. It was all a little too easy.

The Epilogue

I kept expecting that Tris would eventually show up, like it was a big ruse (for what purpose I don’t know) but still, when the epilogue started two and a half years after her death I had no clue what to expect. That Roth demonstrated that Tris’ death wasn’t in vain was important and needed. It was also great to see how the others went on to survive without her and make lives for themselves in the “new” Chicago. I also felt incredibly sad for Four. There’s a character who’s life is not one you would like to experience. If anything it was the effect that Tris’ death has on Tobias that got to me. I always felt that she couldn’t make it to the stories end. That any other life would seem out of place and unnatural for her. But Four has suffered and lost so much, it’s heartbreaking to think that after everything he has to lose her too.

That the final thoughts in the book come from him and from a place of hope within him is comforting for any fan who invested in Tobias and were heart broken at all he has lost.

Of the three books in the Divergent series Allegiant is by far my least favourite. Though I commend Roth for making hard choices and going against what was expected I can’t help but feel that the overall point of the story gets lost in a lot of excess, that there are too many holes and most importantly that she didn’t go far enough to make the loss of Tris have a strong enough purpose.

Despite all the criticism Roth is an exciting writer and this series is a great addition to the YA Dystopian canon – I look forward to whatever she comes up with next because really she can only get better.

(Also it’s quite possible six months from  now when I sit down to re-read this my thoughts will completely change, in which case I promise to acknowledge that fact.)

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: Allegiant

  1. I agree that Tris always had a death wish. Plus, once we saw Tobias’s POV in the novel we all should have realized that Tris was going to die. I also agree that the death didn’t make a whole lot of sense though. I never even factored in that Tris should have had a gun.

    For me, I didn’t understand why David would shoot to kill instead of shoot to subdue. Tris has the ultimate DNA, so he wouldn’t want to kill her because then he’d lose his precious samples. Plus, he still has feelings for Nathalie and Tris is his link to her. David killing her felt out of character for me.

    Great review, though I did find this book to be the better one in the series. :p

    • Hey thanks for the response. I agree with what you’ve said about David, especially when it comes to his feelings for Nathalie. The only thing I can say is that maybe his bitterness over her choice to remain in the city and marry someone else clouded his judgment. But I think you’re right, he may have been angry but it seems more sensical that in the end Tris’ connection to her mother would change his mind, not to mention the DNA. Why go through all this trouble to harness and farm the best DNA only to destroy it?

      The fact is the holes in the story are all a little too big to ignore. I really just think all the story needed was a little more refinement. But like I said overall I still love the series and I love that Roth wasn’t afraid to take some chances.

  2. I have never felt so angry, disappointed or upset at the end of a book. I understand that this is the authors work and she is entitled to end it any way she likes. But through two and a half books I felt hope. Hope for the characters who were broken from violence and loss. Even though i disliked the sudden change in perspective and some of the less than believable plot twists, underdeveloped thought processes and the use of words most teenagers wouldn’t even imagine using,  three quarters of the way through this book I was prepared  to read it again. But now I can’t even face it. In the end I felt nothing but emptiness,  sadness and despondency. Even if the ending made sense to the author she must have known that the fans would not appreciate it. There were so many options open to her which the fans would have been satisfied with. It didn’t have to be happily ever after but it could have been anything with our two heroes side by side.  I mean, for goodness sake, even JK Rowling didn’t kill Harry Potter, although that’s clearly what she could have done. Just because it can happen it doesn’t mean it has to. 
    Unfortunately, I am lost to Roth as a fan. And I am sure many others are as well. I will never buy another Roth book again. To think that she would like fans to now purchase her Four book is beyond laughable. Especially after hearing of her apathy towards the books fans. It would be wise for her to remember without fans there would be no sales and hence no books. 

    • I understand where you’re coming from, but you have to kind of respect that she just did things her way. I mean think of how angry people were with J.K. Rowling when she killed Dumbledore. But when you look back, even if you still hate the decision you have to appreciate the guts it takes for a person in their position to make the choice that they want – instead of catering to others. That being said I do think she could have responded to all the uproar in a more understanding way, perhaps if she’d been a little more understanding of how her fans felt about Tris the situation wouldn’t leave such a bitter tastes in the mouths of so many.

  3. Pingback: Year End Review | ThePersnicketyRapscallion

  4. Awesome review! You have a lot of great points! I loved the vulnerability with Tris and Tobias too – beautiful depiction of a relationship! I also agree with Tris having a death wish, and I feel your thoughts on selflessness vs. sacrifice are thoughtful and spot on. For me, as a fellow author, I also appreciated Veronica Roth for having the guts to write the ending she did. Dystopias are not all rainbows and butterflies, yet they can still uplift and inspire us in their own way. You can check out my review here if you want. Happy reading!
    http://dustycrabtree.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/teen-tuesday-review-of-allegiant-3rd-in-divergent-series/

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