This is the third and final installment of the Divergent trilogy, and since it will be difficult to speak another word, including giving any summary, without tremendous spoilers for the first two in the series, the rest of this review will go behind a cut.
Goodreads 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. “
Now that I’ve gotten you all back here to avoid spoilers for Divergent and Insurgent, I’m going to furthermore promise not to spoil you on Allegiant. However, at the bottom of this review, I’m going to link to the cross-post of it on my blog where I will be discussing the end of this book and how that retroactively affects the rest of it. So if you don’t mind being spoiled or if you’ve read it already and want to discuss it with me, feel free to come over to the personal blog and we’ll talk it out. Otherwise, here be no spoilers.
Allegiant picks up right were Insurgent left off, much like the latter did for Divergent. My opinions are very divided on this book, so the best way I can think of to organize my thoughts will be in a pros and cons list.
- Pro: If you were irritated by Tris in Insurgent, you’ll like her better here. She’s essentially returned to how she was in Divergent: confident, brave, loyal, and generally someone who seems worthy of leading others.
- Con: This isn’t Tris’s fault, per se, but probably Roth’s — Tris becomes essentially untouchable in this book. She’s right about everything, and she becomes everyone’s salve. She’s kind of superhuman and even though you love her because she’s your protagonist and you grew with her, she’s not exactly relate-able anymore.
- Pro: This is a maybe-pro, just depending on the individual taste of the reader. The brooding, mysterious Four is given POV sections, an audience request that I’ve noticed lately seems to be born more out swoony impulses to hear about the other half of the romance than to really get at someone’s characterization, but in any case, we get a little of both here.
- Con: Four’s POV sections dismantle how we see him, which is as a strong and determined person, a rock for Tris. Indeed, she even describes him as such: the stone to her knife, to support her and make her sharper. Four’s sections allow us to see his vulnerability, which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but when combined with Tris’s sudden elevation to near infallibility, it makes Four seem unworthy of her. Whereas Four’s defining characteristic before seemed to be that he understood and respected his fears but didn’t let them control him, here he seems to be unilaterally propelled by them without any input from his conscious person. We don’t like this!
- Con 2: Except for context clues, there isn’t really much in the way to distinguish the POV sections. The way Roth has written them, Four and Tris’s voices are basically identical. It cheapens the quality of the writing overall, because rather than really working on developing those voices, it ends up just being a cop-out to establish author omniscience while writing in the first person.
- Pro: If you’re a fan of Roth’s action-packed writing, you’ll get that here in spades.
- Con: A lot weighs here on eugenics and Bad Scientists™, which is fine as a narrative when the Bad Science™ actually makes sense scientifically (if not morally,) but here it kind of doesn’t.
- Last Con: For me, the ending was pretty unsatisfying in a lot of ways. This marks the second time this year I’ve finished a major YA trilogy this year and been pretty let down by the ending. There is something of a sense of relief and baseline satisfaction at finishing a series you’ve grown to love, but both in this case and in the other (Requiem, the end of the Delerium trilogy) it seemed that the author was really rushed and had to hang epic endings on unrealistic scenarios and deus ex machinas.
If you’re a fan of this series, you’re going to read this book regardless of this review (and in fact, mine probably isn’t the first review like this that you’ve read,) so you don’t need my recommendation or not. I just wish I were less disappointed, personally. Rounding up to three stars, charitably, for overall enjoyment of the series, but this installment is the weakest of the three.