I’m going to say it right up front: the reason I did not like this book had nothing to do with the ending.
Well, almost nothing. The ending was what she was building up to, and since I had a problem with the build-up itself, I sort of do have a problem with the ending by extension, but that’s just semantics. Actually, I was so burned by this series after Insurgent that I wasn’t looking forward to reading this book at all, so when I accidentally spoiled myself over THAT THING before I had even cracked the spine on my brand new copy, it had the opposite effect on me it had on most readers. It actually made me more excited to see how she was going to pull it off. And I was still disappointed. Sigh.
I do have to give Veronica Roth credit. She may have fumbled the execution (a lot, in my opinion), but I do think she had her priorities straight. She was dedicated — perhaps too much so — to seeing out her themes and serving the narrative, as opposed to taking the easy way out in the way she ended her story, which is what her readers wanted her to do. The problem here is that the structure of this third act in the story is just a big old mess, and the way she crafts her words and her sentences and her dialogue, I think, actively worked against the goals she was shooting for.
From here on out, be warned, spoilers ahoy.
Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room: Tris totally bites it. She croaks. She is annihilated. She goes belly up. She buys the farm. She’s checking out the grass from underneath. She goes the way of the dinosaurs. She’s popped off. She’s permanently out of print. She’s shuffled off the mortal coil.
Take the anger and grit of The Outsiders, the intellectual and geographical dystopia of 1984, and a good dose of satire a lá Harrison Bergeron, and you have these two young adult novels by Veronica Roth. Set in Chicago sometime in a future where everyone is a member of one of five factions, the story begins with the main character, Beatrice Prior, facing her aptitude test that will determine which faction best suits her. Beatrice was born into the Abnegation faction but displays an aptitude for both this and two other factions, Erudite and Dauntless, which makes her Divergent. As the woman administering the test advises, this is a very very bad outcome and the catalyst of this trilogy. Beatrice’s story is set in motion on her Choosing Day, when she leaves her family to join the Dauntless faction, a group of characters straight from an S.E. Hinton casting call costumed with 21st century fashions and infused with a much dimmer outlook than Hinton’s simple boys from the 1970s.
I am surprised that I haven’t heard of these books earlier, but having just finished an accelerated second degree program, I didn’t really have a lot of time for extracurricular reading. Since devouring The Hunger Games in probably 2 days, I was excited when this was recommended by a friend the other night when she described it as, “it’s like Hunger Games, starts a little slow but overall pretty good.” She had me at Hunger Games. Especially at my dismay over wanting to read another 800 page epic undertaking – I’m already behind!
So that YA fix I was anticipating from The Rook remained alive for me and lead me towards a book in the Fast Reads section at the library that featured a cover design that was (alarmingly, right!?) like The Hunger Games cover: Divergent by Suzanne Collins, I mean, by Veronica Roth.