Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Dystopia, Speculative Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: October 2013
Hardcover: 526 Pages
One choice will define you.
What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?
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.
Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.
Stand alone or series: Book 3 in the Divergent Trilogy
How did I get this book: Bought
Format (e- or p-): Ebook
Why did I read this book: I have had a mixed experience when it comes to the Divergent books. I loved Divergent book 1 for its good, albeit slightly ridiculous, popcorn fun quality. However, I found Insurgent to be uneven, repetitive and mind-numbing in its fixation on the PG teen angst romance between Tris and Four. I wasn’t super excited about reading Allegiant… until The Internets exploded. I’ve stayed far away from spoilers, but I know many fans were very angry with the way things turned out in Allegiant, which OF COURSE intrigued me more than any marketing plan or blog tour ever could.
Needless to say, I had to read the book and figure out what happened for myself.
And dudes. I do not regret reading this book for a second.
**WARNING: This review contains unavoidable spoilers for Divergent and Insurgent. If you have NOT read books 1 and 2 in this trilogy and wish to remain unspoiled LOOK AWAY! You have been warned.**
Everything can change with a single decision.
Tris has revealed the secret that her faction, Abnegation, has been killed for, broadcasting the shocking truth to all within the city’s walls:
The factions were created in the city of Chicago in order to cure the corruption and chaos of the world outside. The Divergent are not a problem that need to be killed, but an indicator of strength – when those identified as Divergent increase in number, the city’s walls are to be opened, and the city’s wisdom is to be shared with the outside world.
This truth, however, comes at a great cost. Tris’s home city is in chaos, the factions – those carefully ordered and selected tribes based on dominant personality traits – are no more. After opposing the Erudite, the Factionless led by Tobias’s mother, Evelyn, have taken over the city and their rule is as absolute as it is unyielding. Faction colors and allegiances are outlawed, the Dauntless are disarmed and disbanded, and the traitors who have collaborated with the Erudite’s schemes for power are sentenced to death. Evelyn’s new rule is rife with unrest, however, and a new rebellion brews – the “Allegiant” (aka those loyal to the city’s original founders and the original mission of Chicago) are recruiting, and they want Tris and Tobias to join their cause and venture beyond the city walls.
What Tris and her friends find beyond Chicago’s borders, however, will once again upend everything they thought they knew about their world. The world is much larger than they ever could have imagined; the truth of the factions, of the founding of the city, of their very way of life, is not what it seems.
Once again, Tris must make a choice. Once again, everything will change.
The third and final book in the Divergent trilogy, Allegiant is an ambitious, gutsy novel. It is packed with revelations upon revelations, twists upon twists; it takes huge risks when it comes to the fate of its protagonists and the decisions with which they are confronted. At the same time, Allegiant stumbles in its ambition, with developments that don’t quite make sense; plotholes, ludicrousness, and deus ex machinas abound. But… at the end of the day, it is this reader’s opinion that Roth’s gutsiness pays off. To use a Divergent image, even though Allegiant doesn’t quite make it down that zipline from the Hancock building in a triumphant, graceful streak of glory, it goes for it. And I appreciate that very, very much. But I’m getting ahead of myself again. Let’s talk specifics:
I have always had a problem with the basic setup for the Divergent books – the idea that there are only a handful of dominant personality traits, of ways of living in preset factions that seem completely arbitrary, has always rubbed me as incredibly reductionist and compartmentalized. I initially wrote this off as a failing of oversimplification of a dysotpian setup (after reading as many of these so-called dystopian novels, believe me, I’ve read plenty worse a setup). Imagine my joy, then, when Allegiant takes a step outside of the insular world of Chicago and examines the faction system and the city from the outside-in. (I’m going to try to do this as spoiler-free as possible, so bear with me if I start to sound vague, or ominously cloak and dagger.) The revelations that Tris, Tobias, and their friends uncover beyond Chicago’s walls are shocking and explain this didactic, reductionist city in a way that mostly makes sense. Mostly. while the setup for cities like Chicago and and the “genetic” impetus for the for the creation of these setups is utterly ludicrous, at the same time, I appreciate the attempt to tie everything together in a cohesive, unified way.
More than the grand unified theory of Divergence and factions, however, the thing I appreciated the most about Allegiant, lies with the shifting nature of the book’s allegiances and revelations. That sounds confusing, but hear me out: Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant are books about upheaval, of personal choice, and the dramatic implications of change. In many dystopian novels, especially of the YA variety, a government is framed as an evil body, corrupted often by ideals – the solution to such a heinous system? Why, rebellion, of course! Rebellion, however, is not a solution in itself, and in Allegiant this concept of change and struggle against corruption is laid bare. Rebellion does not automatically mean a happy ending, or that all the wrongs of a previous regime are magically healed. No, often rebellion sows chaos and deeper unrest – in Allegiant we see that the Factionless are not the end-all solution to what is broken with the city of Chicago; that the government outside the city’s walls is not all-knowing and benevolent; that the fringe fighters on the edge of those government enclaves are completely right in their righteous rage. Everything is flawed, everything is broken. There is no simple, right solution. I love that Veronica Roth explores the messiness that is political change in Allegiant in a way that is convoluted and infinitely complicated – but ultimately it’s a way that rings as incredibly genuine.
While I’m singing the book’s praises in terms of development and scope, however, there are numerous issues with the text. The pacing of the novel is front-loaded with a ton of exposition, followed by some truly good meaty stuff (in which Tris and Tobias discover the truth of the world outside), followed by an insanely rushed conflict and finale to the novel. Suffice it to say, the pacing is uneven. I also wasn’t crazy about the ridiculously PG romance that pervades the first third of the novel (in which Tris and Tobias melt into each other with each passionate kiss, grasping at belt loops and marveling at the sexiness of… collarbones). Similarly, initially I wasn’t a huge fan of Allegiant‘s narrative technique, flipping between Tris and Tobias as alternating protagonists (there’s only so much I can take of Tobias marveling at how small but how strong his lady love is, how delicate her collarbone with bird tattoos, how beautiful she is with her hair falling over her eyes while she’s asleep, yadda yadda yadda, excuse me while I try not to gag). Skepticisms voiced, however, the narrative technique actually pays off BIG TIME as the divide between Tris and Tobias becomes substantial, especially in the second half of the novel.
Which brings me to: THE ENDING (aka, the source of all the internets rage). Opinion is split when it comes to the efficacy of the ending, and what readers are owed by the author when it comes to Allegiant‘s particular finale. I don’t think I’ll get into the discussion of reader expectation and what obligation, if any, authors have when finishing a book or series (suffice it to say that I feel like in Allegiant‘s particular case, this has more to do with marketing/publicity approach failure). And… I have to say, I thoroughly, wholeheartedly appreciated the way Veronica Roth chose to end this book. I think it makes sense, I think it’s completely believable and one of the few endings I would have accepted of the book. Frankly, I’m surprised that more dystopian novels – especially of the violent persuasion – DON’T end this way. While there are certainly contrivances that abound in the book’s final act – SERUMS UPON SERUMS! (there are death serums, and memory serums, and zombification serums, and fear serums) – the more I think on the fate of our intrepid protagonists in Allegiant, the more I appreciate the book’s bittersweet ending.
Ultimately, Allegiant is a book that has its many flaws and missteps, but it’s an ambitious book that goes for all the marbles. Even though it doesn’t quite hit that high sweet note, I appreciate its gusto. I don’t regret reading this book – or this series – for a second, and can earnestly recommend it to fans looking for a thoughtful dystopian YA trilogy.
Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter 1 (Tris):
I pace in our cell in Erudite headquarters, her words echoing in my mind: My name will be Edith Prior, and there is much I am happy to forget.
“So you’ve never seen her before? Not even in pictures?” Christina says, her wounded leg propped up on a pillow.She was shot during our desperate attempt to reveal the Edith Prior video to our city. At the time we had no idea what it would say, or that it would shatter the foundation we stand on, the factions, our identities. “Is she a grandmother or an aunt or something?”
“I told you, no,” I say, turning when I reach the wall.“Prior is—was—my father’s name, so it would have to be on his side of the family. But Edith is an Abnegation name, and my father’s relatives must have been Erudite, so . . .”
“So she must be older,” Cara says, leaning her head against the wall. From this angle she looks just likeher brother, Will, my friend, the one I shot. Then she straightens, and the ghost of him is gone. “A few generations back. An ancestor.”
“Ancestor.” The word feels old inside me, like crumbling brick. I touch one wall of the cell as I turnaround. The panel is cold and white.
My ancestor, and this is the inheritance she passed to me: freedom from the factions, and the knowledge that my Divergent identity is more important than I could have known. My existence is a signal that we need to leave this city and offer our help to whoever is outside it.
“I want to know,” Cara says, running her hand over her face. “I need to know how long we’ve been here. Would you stop pacing for one minute?”
You can read the full excerpt online HERE.
Rating: 7 – Very Good
Reading Next: Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach
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