Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica RothThis third and final installment of the Divergent Trilogy takes the bizarre, complicated plot even further and it relies even more on people making stupid decisions, rending it by far the worst of the three books that make up this ill-advised trilogy.

This review reveals the conclusion of the series, but it is for the benefit of the reader as you may not wish to read the whole thing knowing how it ends.

The battle between the factionless, led by Four’s mother, Evelyn, and the former factions, led by Four’s father, Marcus, heats up considerably, so Tris and Four leave Chicago and find the people who are really running this bizarre mess of a society, the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, and its leader David.  It turns out that these people have really screwed things up by trying to create better humans, so the Divergent are actually normal people and those belonging to factions are genetically damaged.  When Four discovers that he is genetically damaged, he stupidly joins in a plot against the Bureau, which, it turns out, wasn’t such a bad idea because they are in fact the big bad villains.  David decides that since their experiment was a failure, they need to release a chemical throughout the city that will wipe the minds of everyone, then they can start out all over again and do it right.

Reacting against this bizarre notion, Tris throws her life away trying to stop him.

It was established in the other novels that Tris has a death wish, but quite frankly, I never took it seriously, because in all other respects, she seemed (in spite of a steady spate of tears) to be a strong, fairly intelligent person.  She is, after all, the heroine.  Readers need to be aware that this trilogy is a *tragedy* in the true sense of the word.  We’re all so used to having happy endings, especially in Young Adult literature, that reading a dystopian YA tragedy is a pretty shocking affair.

Roth has tried to make her death seem organic, by repeatedly bringing up her death wish, but I really thought that it was perhaps the final thing she had to overcome in order to become a complete person.  No, it turns out that she really hasn’t grown that much at all.  She simply throws herself away.

Although the plot, and especially the ending, are serious problems in the novel, maybe the biggest problem is the “voice.”

In the first two novels, Roth established a wonderful voice for Tris and since both of the books are written in the First Person Present tense, it works very well.  The third novel, however, introduces the voice of Four as she alternates perspective in different chapters.  It is a bit of a shock, after having a consistent viewpoint in each of the first two novels, to have someone else speaking, but real problem is that Roth has not bothered to create a unique voice for Four.  He sounds so much like Tris that many times I had to flip back to the beginning of a chapter to find out who was speaking.  In terms of creating unique characters, this is a very serious problem.  Once I understood that Tris would die, the reasoning became apparent: she had to have someone continue speaking after Tris was dead.  In the end, I don’t think that matters at all.  As soon as Tris died, I closed the book and put it away because the voice I had listened to for several hundred thousands words was silenced and I didn’t care what happened afterwards.

Allegiant has the feeling, like Insurgent before it of being a rushed effort.  I don’t think that Roth truly took the time to think through her story before writing it, because there are so many things that don’t make sense, that don’t seem believable, that it seems unnatural, rather than an organically sound plotting.

My final advice to readers would be to enjoy the first book in the series, Divergent, and be happy with that, because it is the only complete, beautifully written, cogent novel in the trilogy.  It is pretty well designed, with strong characters, a terrific plot, and it is written in a style that makes for satisfying reading.

Of all the Young Adult dystopian trilogies in the market, the Divergent Trilogy starts out among the best and ends up among the worst.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

movies-divergent-shailene-woodley-trisDivergent, by Veronica Roth, is another in a growing list of YA Dystopian novels (trilogies, to be more specific) written in the first person present voice of a teenage girl. Like the others (Delirium, Hunger Games, etc. this book is set in the fairly near future when the United States has devolved into a ruling society and a bunch of outcasts. In this particular case, there are five factions, Dauntless, Erudite, Abnegation, Amity, and Candor. These names suggest the traits of the groups, intended by these ruling elite to balance each other.

Beatrice Prior, a 16 year old girl, tells the story, beginning shortly before her evaluation. She starts out in Abnegation, but, like all young people graduating high school, she must be evaluated to decide which faction she is best suited for–and then she must choose which faction she will devote her life to. The problem that turns up during her evaluation is that she is suited for more than one faction and this makes her Divergent. In a choice that shocks her family, she chooses Dauntless, the brave faction, known for wearing dark clothing, running around jumping on and off trains, wearing tattoos and lots of piercings. When she arrives, she changes her first name to the shortened version of Beatrice: Tris.

The book really moves quick, the characters are well-defined, Tris’s voice is unique and interesting, and even though the future world is a little far-fetched, Roth makes it work. The only thing that really bothered me was that Erudite emerge as the villains and I always wonder at writers to seem to feel that being smart automatically makes you untrustworthy. This is a weird thing that permeates America today: the notion that it is so much better to be dumb than smart. Another thing that bothered me–and it was a minor problem in Delirium as well–is that Tris seems to break down and cry a lot. I’d really like my teenage girl heroines to be a little tougher. It seems a more pronounced problem here, where Dauntless are supposed to be tough as nails.

I haven’t finished the trilogy yet, but I currently rank this at #3 in my YA Dystopian First Person Present Girl Heroine trilogies.

Anyway, once you get started, you won’t want to put it down.