This post contains spoilers for Veronica Roth’s Allegiant. DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER if you haven’t read it or do not want to know the ending yet.
The reaction to Allegiant has been pretty phenomenal, albeit, not in a good way. The only other time that I’ve experienced a fandom lash out in anger like this was when Lost ended so disappointingly. I’m not going to officially “review” it, because I assume if you’re reading Allegiant then you’re familiar with the Divergent universe. These are my reactions to the finale of the series, for whatever they’re worth.
I really wanted to like this book. I didn’t want to jump blindly on the hate train just because others were so upset. Despite my best efforts of giving Allegiant the benefit of a doubt, I just couldn’t get on board–but not for the reasons that you would think. I seem to be in the minority on this one, but it doesn’t bother me that Tris died. I was shocked, yes, but it made sense for her character’s personality.
My disappointment fell more on the storytelling itself as well as the symbolism:
- Holy lackluster and anticlimactic, Batman. Other than the “OMG!” realization of Tris’s death, what happened in this story? It just wandered on and on so slowly. We talked about factions. We talked about genes. We talked about why Tris was mad at Four. We talked about why Tris made up with Four. We talked about why we had to save the factions. Other than Four’s mini-rebellion in the middle somewhere and the final plan (?) battle (?) whatever you want to call it, nothing happened. I kept waiting for it to pick up or to make some alarming discovery, but it just stayed flat. Bland and flat.
- Probably my biggest frustration is the major shift in what we’re supposed to find important. We spend two books learning about the factions and what it means to be divergent. Two books caring about how and why things are they way they are within the factions and having a stake in how they interact with each other. We spend two books moving in one direction to have the rug pulled out from underneath of us at the end. Even Insurgent’s cliffhanger with “Edith Prior,” that I was all “omg!” about, turned out to mean NOTHING.
Don’t get me wrong, genes are an extremely interesting topic and most certainly belong in a dystopian universe, but if they were going to be so important to this story, they should have been introduced way sooner so that we could delve into them way deeper. Which brings me to my next point:
- Roth really dropped the ball on how powerful of a message she had with what it means to be “genetically pure” or “damaged.” I’m not going to get too far into this one because it was explored beautifully by Chelsea in her post “Genetic Purity, Racism and White Privilege in Veronica Roth’s Allegiant.” Check it out if you have the chance. As she puts it: “If a “damaged” person is killed by a “pure” person, there’s no justice because the “damaged” don’t have a genetic code worth protecting.” That sentiment could have been ripped directly from the 11 o’clock news, and it’s not even explored in any real way. We just were to take it for granted that “pure” Tris would save the day. Also to Chelsea’s point, once “divergence” became the ideal, the story was no longer Tris’s to tell. It should have been Four’s.
I could go on, because once I start asking questions, I find it hard to stop.
- Why was it so easy for a bunch of 14-year-olds to stage such an elaborate coup?
- Why were there about five adults in the entire airport?
- Why did Tris and Four have the SAME EXACT voice?
- Why don’t I care more that the heroine is dead?
At the end of the day, though, the trilogy had to end somehow, and there were some bright parts. I liked that Tris and Four were able to reconnect with their mothers in an unexpected ways. I liked that Tris made amends with Caleb. I enjoyed seeing Four’s fear landscape again and I liked that we got half of the book from his perspective. Not going to lie–I got misty in the end when Four was remembering Tris and I loved that he was finally able to zipline.
Mostly, Allegiant just feels so disjointed from the other two books. I feel that maybe it was slapped together without a clear direction, pushed through to make deadlines. Things are left unexplored. Ends left loose. Emotions left unresolved.
The silver lining here is that the movies are being made. If Divergent does as well as they expect at the box office, maybe by the time Allegiant hits the big screen, the movie can fix a lot of where the book fell short.