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Book Review: Veronica Roth’s “Allegiant”

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I haven’t been this excited for a series in a long time. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was the last one that did this to me. But I had to do catch up for that. There were already three Harry Potter books when I got sucked in.

I was always sort of late in starting book series. I started reading Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy when Catching Fire came out. I rushed through Ally Condie’s first two Matched books a few weeks before the last book’s release. That was a bad idea because I had to re-read all three books again since rushing made me miss a lot of the trilogy’s plot points. And, hey,I just started Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy a year after the last book came out.

But it’s different for the Divergent trilogy.  I’ve been on the Divergent train from the very start. Someone gave me an ebook copy, and I immediately got hooked. I fell in love with the whole story; with Veronica Roth’s dystopian Chicago the moment Tris accepted her divergence.

It’s been two years since I’ve first read it and the Divergent fanbase has definitely grown. I have more people to talk about it now. I’ve converted some of my friends, convincing them to read the books and even giving away a few copies. That’s how much I’ve loved this series. Suffice to say, saying good-bye to it is hard. Bittersweet.

After reading Allegiant, though, things are mostly bitter than it is sweet.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant, the last book in Roth’s Divergent trilogy, picks up from where Insurgent ended with the factions collapsed,  the factionless – under Evelyn’s leadership – taking over the city, and the discovery that they were all put inside the fenced-in Chicago by a group of people who may need their help. Buoyed to discover the truth about their city and their existence, the trilogy’s protagonist Tris goes outside the fence with Tobias, Cara, Christina, Uriah, Caleb and Peter. What they discover completely obliterates everything they know and believe in.

Again, I fell in love with the first two books. I still am, actually, and I wanted to love Allegiant as much as Divergent and Insurgent but I just can’t. It’s not even because of the ending, although that made me sad, too.

Allegiant is an ambitous book, and it should be after the success of its predecessors but there’s a fine line between being ambitous enough and outright being bombastically, overly ambitous you lose touch of any realism. Allegiant crossed that line.

My biggest issue with Allegiant was Veronica Roth’s plotting. Instead of tying loose ends from Divergent and Insurgent, she pulled even more strings into the mix. The result? A convoluted mess of a story that’s confusing at best. I feel that the conclusion was rushed and does not offer neither explanation or resolution.

The switching between Tris’ and Tobias’ point of views also didn’t help. I know she said that she needed two characters to narrate her story, to give the readers a multi-faceted view of the world she created but it did not work. Personally, I didn’t get any new information from reading Tobias’ POV. It actually confused me even more to the extent that I have to check every chapter whose POV I’m reading. He started sounding like Tris, and it led me to feel like I didn’t know his character at all. Allegiant’s Tobias is a million miles away from the one I knew from the first two books. Divergent’s and Insurgent’s Tobias is tough, confident, strong and brave. The one in Allegiant is a pale and weak version of him.

Continuing my discourse on character development or lack thereof in Allegiant, let me go to Tris. Tris, stubborn and reckless; Tris, my favorite character in the trilogy. I expected Roth to stabilize her beliefs, make her go forward. That does not happen, though, instead she goes on retrograde – travelling backwards to her demise. It wasn’t so much her death that affected me, it was the way it played out. It was senseless.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with writers deciding to kill off their main characters but it has to make sense and it has to push the narrative forward. Roth did not do Tris, who’s such a great character, justice. Also, the author could have taken that chance to give Caleb the redemption he so deserves.

Allegiant is so full of interesting characters which Roth could’ve explored more. I’ve mentioned Caleb, now add Marcus and Peter into that list. Then there’s also the dynamics between Marcus and Evelyn, the Allegiant and the factionless and, of course, Tris and Tobias but you wouldn’t want me to start on that last one because this review would need 10 more pages.

I know Veronica Roth can write better than this. She’d shown an incredible talent in being able to get her readers’ attention, draw them into the world she created and make themselves immersed in it. She also has the knack for creating really amazing and varied characters. She’d shown that in both Divergent and Insurgent. I gave those books a 4 and a 5 respectively, that’s how good they were.

Allegiant could have been a better book if the author was able to plot more carefully. I’m more sorry for all the lost potential than the unnecessary ending. I will still recommend Divergent and Insurgent to people who haven’t read it yet. Allegiant, however, is a read-at-your-own risk kind of book. There were things I liked about Allegiant – Tris and Tobias finally talking things out like adults 75% into the book, how Tobias’ grief was potrayed and the role of his and Tris’ friends in his handling it – but there were just more things I can’t let pass.

This review doesn’t mean that I hate Veronica Roth. I am still a fan, she, after all created this wonderful, intriguing world and all its amazing, interesting characters. I wouldn’t be this affected if her writing wasn’t effective to begin with. She made me care about this fictional world and all these characters, and that says a lot about her. Allegiant just did not work out for me but that does not invalidate the rest of the trilogy. I will definitely still read Roth’s works in the future. Come to think of it, there are stil three Four short stories.

Please know that giving Allegiant this rating hurts.

Also, I will still watch the Divergent movie and I would still love for the other two books to get the same treatment (ATTENTION: Summit Entertainment). Seeing these books become movies, translated into a different medium, is both exciting and intriguing at the same time.

Rating: 2/5