Book – Allegiant
Author – Veronica Roth
Year – 2013
Pages – 526
Genre – Young Adult Dystopian Sci-Fi
Series – The Divergent Series
Lent to me by Emma because I had only bought the first two
A warning – I proper spoil the end of the book in this review.
A few years ago I read one of the most exciting young adult books that I have read in a while – The Hunger Games. It didn’t matter that it was a tad derivative, it was such an interesting concept, and with fantastic characters, and I know by the sheer number of students who were reading it at school, it was a book that did something to really promote reading at school. Obviously, the success that it went on to have in terms of the movies showed the power that these sci-fi and fantasy books can have.
The huge issue I had with Suzanne Collins’ series, is that despite having a stellar first book, and a very good second, the third book in the series – Mockingjay – is dreadful. I have just looked back at the pretty sparse review that I have written for it, and I gave it a seven. In retrospect, for the sheer disappointment I have every time I remember how bad the end of the series I had invested in was, I would give it about a four. I was very sparing in my detail of that book, and I will be less so here, so spoilers ahead.
Again, we pick up from where we left off – Tris is in prison and the Factionless, led by Evelyn, is in control. Four – or Tobias – is her right hand man to understand more. The Allegiant is a rebel group attempting to send people outside of the city as in the founders’ initial ideas. A group of most of the lead characters manage to do so and find that the whole city is an experiment being run by the US government in order to try and fix genetic anomalies that bought about a huge war that nearly destroyed the world. Tris and co must uncover mysteries about what has happened in their city, this new compound, and the world around them.
So my intro was mainly about Mockingjay – what does that have to do with Allegiant? Well, they are both awful. What is it about these books that means that they can’t complete a trilogy without going off the rails?!
Let’s start with the positive – Roth has seriously put some effort into creating a believable and interesting world beyond the comfy confines of the city featured in the first two books. This alternative future is well constructed and well worth some more exploration. I love a good bit of world building and this has been done expertly. The problems that caused mankind’s population to half and interesting, and there are wonderful parallels to the way that she has presented the city in the first two books.
Unfortunately, that is pretty much where it ends. The lesser of the complaints is that the exciting pace that I experienced in the first books is gone. We have to hear about this extended world through a tonne of exposition. I love a good bit of exposition, but it really hampered the flow of the series to get it all so clogged together.
A much bigger complaint is that for the first time, a second point of view – Tobias – is added to the mix. There is no need for this at all. The two of them spend nearly the whole of the book in the same place, talk all the time so share things with each other that we find out in their own chapters, but also frustratingly, appear to be exactly the same person. There is no change at all when it comes to their tone or emotions in terms of the writing. In fact, i regularly found myself not being quite sure whose chapter I was reading and getting it wrong for several pages at a time. It just came across as an unnecessary change that highlighted a weakness in the author’s writing.
And the ending? I can already hear the suggestions looming that not all books have to end happy, and I am in agreement with that, but you really have to earn it if that is where you are going to go with it. This book does not earn it. Here is the spoiler, but Roth kills off the lead, Tris, heroically towards the end of the book. Whilst it is in character for her, it still absolutely reeks of killing her to make you sad, rather than because that is the best way for the book to go. The death of a major character should leave you upset, particularly when you are heavily invested, but instead I had the feeling of “Oh, that is a strange way to go” before being annoyed that we would now be looking through Tobias’ eyes for the rest of the book.
I think a lot is said about this book that despite making the first two books and the first half of this one into films, work was abandoned on the second half of this leaving the series unfinished. I hate that kind of thing, but maybe it is kinder this way. I am inclined to give this a reasonable score as I really enjoyed this series as a whole, but I have learned from the Hunger Games trilogy, and I am not being fooled by not realising the disappointment I am going to feel every time I think back on this series.
Book – Allegiant