Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Review: Allegiant

I went into this book with some reservations. I have a few friends who had voiced their disillusionment with the final installment of Veronica Roth's Divergent series (to the point of saying they wished they had never read the books!) and I was worried I would feel the same sense of disillusionment. I didn't want to end a great series with a bad taste in my mouth. I anticipated being duped in some way, finding out that the ground I stood on wasn't really what I had been led to believe it was. Thankfully, it wasn't really that which led to their feelings of dissatisfaction. They merely didn't like the ending. While I wonder what it would have been like, had it ended differently, I wasn't as bothered by the ending as other people have been. To me, it seemed like the final bits made sense and needed to happen to remain true to both character and plot development.

This book was different from the other two, at the outset. Instead of merely getting the perspective of the main character, Beatrice Prior, we are now given an alternating narration by Tris and Tobias. It was interesting to get into the head of a male character as the final actions played out (although it could be argued that there isn't a whole lot of difference in voice between the two characters). Despite understanding the reasoning behind the switch, again I find myself wondering what it would have been like if Roth had simply kept with the first person narration from Tris. Then I wonder whether the author foresaw this necessity for two narrators from the outset or if the books simply progressed as they did and the plot line dictated a switch in viewpoint. Did she know things were headed this way? Did she know, while writing the first, that the third book would end in this manner? I cannot help but read like a writer and want to know what the experience was like during the process of unfolding the story.

In this third installment, the factions which gripped their world have disbanded, but the society is no better off. They are still on the verge of war as various individuals fight to claim power over the remaining citizens. A group rises up, called "the Allegiant," with the purpose of returning to the outside world to discover what it was they were meant to do with this crumbling society. Of course, Tris and Tobias are part of the Allegiant and thus, they are the key ones who attempt to make sense of the new information they are given about their world and they must determine the best course of action to help their old society.

I enjoyed this trilogy. It was a very thought-provoking series. It raised questions of identity, the value of virtues, the damage of weaknesses, the frailty of the human personality and the importance of love, over all. The phrase used to pitch this series is "one choice will define you." I am grateful to discover, in thinking about this book and in reflecting on my own life, that one choice will not define you entirely. You are made up of far more than single aspects of who you are. You are a blend of good and bad, and your choices render consequences which carry both good and bad. I especially appreciated the many thoughts in the book on the subject of forgiveness. Roth brought forward some profound observations about life and grief and relationships. I would happily read this series again. Despite being pitched as a young adult series, it is definitely a worthwhile read for adults as well, if you can give in to the fact that you might not agree with or like the ending. I still think it was worth exploring all these interesting ideas about human nature, despite the questionable ending.

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