Monday, December 2, 2013

Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Book 3 in the Divergent series)
Rating: 2 stars
Source: Bought
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "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."

ReviewI have to be honest.  I thought Allegiant was a disappointment.  When I finished reading the last page of this story, I closed the book and immediately thought, "Well that was unnecessary."

Indeed, "unnecessary" describes most of this book. 

Unnecessary deviations from the conflict between the factions and the factionless.

Unnecessary attention paid to genetics by people who, because of the existence of Divergence, should already know that people cannot be defined by their blood.

Unnecessary new plot in the compound that pretty much ignores everything Divergent and Insurgent built.

Unnecessary focus on serums and Tris' magical ability to resist them (which was never explained, by the way.)

Unnecessary side plots that were abandoned halfway though their development.  (Probably because they were unnecessary to begin with.)

Unnecessary actions performed all over this book by characters who really should know better.

This whole book is just one big Unnecessary Event after the next.  

Allegiant is a bit of a derailing of the story Divergent and Insurgent built.  The strength of Divergent and Insurgent was always in its action sequences, so it was a definite mistake to make this (500+ page) book so stagnant.  The momentum from the first two books fizzles significantly here.  I was bored when I wasn't rolling my eyes.  Even if the characters aren't actively fighting for something, there needs to be something in the story worth fighting for, should it become necessary.  Allegiant offers precious little on that count.

I usually dislike books that feature the dual perspective narrative device, and this book perfectly showcases why.  Tris and Tobias sound exactly the same.  Several times I forgot which character's eyes I was seeing the world through, and had to go back to the beginning of the chapter to check.  It's distracting and annoying and, in this case, largely unnecessary.  They aren't in different places, or experiencing different things for the most part.  I would have greatly preferred the narrative to continue through only  Tris' eyes.

After the end of Insurgent I expected Peter to play a significant, or at least influential, role in this series' conclusion.  He didn't.  He just kind of popped up in a few scenes, doing nothing noteworthy or interesting.  Same with nearly every other character with whom I had become curious.  They just kind of moseyed along in the background while Tris and Four blundered through their side plots.  I was very frustrated with the lack of character development across the board.

I know a lot of people are upset with the way this series ended.  I was never as invested in these characters the way others were (and the way I am in many other books) so the characters' fates were not as devastating to me, personally, as they were for others.  Tris is reckless and impulsive and surprisingly narrow minded for someone who is supposedly fighting against narrow-mindedness.   Four is stubborn and overly sensitive and self-absorbed.  Though the ending made me sad, I thought that at least their endings reflected their natures.  I certainly understand, however, that if you cared about these characters you would want these book to end differently.  To me, though, what happened to these characters does not bother me nearly as much as HOW it happened.

If tragedy has to happen because it is completely unavoidable, or absolutely necessary to the story, then I understand.  Actually, I get upset when stories blatantly sidestep some obviously inevitable death or other event for no reason whatsoever.  (Breaking Dawn, I'M LOOKING AT YOU.)  My issue with this ending is not that it is sad.  It is, rather, that it is utterly unnecessary.  There were so many other options they could have chosen that would have accomplished their goals.  So many other things they could have done to protect those they loved.  The tragedy in this book is not sacrificial, it's stupidity.  These characters are not strong, they are rash and irresponsible.  That is what makes this ending so unsatisfying.  It could have so easily been avoided if they had just taken a nap instead of jumping headlong into situations they obviously didn't understand.

I think the heart of my (and many others') disappointment lies in crushed expectations.  What I thought I should expect from Allegiant was an adrenaline-filled rush to solve the violence pulsing through Chicago, revolutionize the government, reconcile the city with those outside, establish independence, and finally bring peace to a place riddled with tragedy.  (That, plus a few scenes featuring Tris and Tobias making googly eyes at each other.)  What I got was an irrelevant tirade on genetics, preachy speeches, and meaningless actions performed by hopelessly lost characters.

I am being harsh on this book.  I know.  This book was not anything like I was hoping.  But, to be fair, there were a few nice moments along the way.  I found Peter's ultimate choice to be interesting, albeit anticlimactic since he hardly appeared in the rest of the book.  I enjoyed learning a little more about Tris' parents' backgrounds.  Matthew was an interesting new character, and the Fringe was intriguing.  Too bad it was never actually developed in the story.  I was curious.  Oh well.  This book took a huge risk with that ending, and although it may have been a mistake, it required a heck of a lot of guts.  You've got to respect Roth's nerve, however misplaced.  I never loved this series.  But I liked how it began.  It was adequate entertainment.  And, though I don't expect I'll read it again, I'm glad I read it once.

6 comments:

  1. I'm usually a late adopter of whatever book is all the rage (late to Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, all of them!) and I'm only JUST STARTING to hear about this series. I'm hanging my head in shame.
    Do you still feel like the series is worth reading? Or does the end color the whole experience for you?

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    1. That's a great question! I think I would still recommend this series to someone who wanted something fast-paced and entertaining to read on an airplane or something, but I would definitely warn them that the trilogy ends weakly and with a bit of a downer. It's not a terribly series, it's just not very happy or uplifting either. However, if you're looking for a really great trilogy, and not just something to pass the time, there are many others I'd recommend before this one. The Under the Never Sky series comes to mind, but of course I'm saying that without having read the final book in the series yet. And, clearly, the final book has the power to make or break a series.

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  2. Please please please do a post on your favorite grippers. I just finished all of the Harry Potters (again) and I don't know what to do with myself. I'm just so sad its all over and I can't start over because I'm only allowed to read them every 6 months. I'm in "post-HP-depression" mode and need something to hold my attention while still being well-written and worthwhile! Help, Mel!

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    1. Oh, Harry. It's left a void in all our hearts. I've yet to find something of the same caliber as that series (I doubt I ever will) but I do have several other series that I've loved. Thanks for the post suggestion, I'll get on it!

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  3. After finishing Allegiant today, I remembered you had reviewed the book, so I came back to see what you had had to say (now having some context; when you first posted your review, I hadn't even read Divergent). You are absolutely spot on. Supposedly smart characters making incredibly rash and ill-thought-out decisions. Interesting aspects of the earlier books (such as the cultural differences between factions) replaced by vague lectures about genetics and history. But most of all, poorly done dual-perspective narration that made me want to stop reading the book at about page 4 because the Tobias voice was so unnecessary and unconvincing. Given how much I agree with you, I should probably try reading one of the books you've liked (hopefully soon - I'm on the library wait list for The Fault in Our Stars).

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    1. Hi LaShel! I'm glad we agree. This series ending was such a disappointment! With the two exciting books preceding it, I really thought it could have been great, but it really, well, WASN'T. Blarg. The dual-voice narration was really awful. So distracting. It bugged. I'm glad you'll be reading The Fault in Our Stars soon, that one is much, much better!!

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