Writing a series – or trilogy or whateverology – is no easy task, especially when writing dystopian fiction, where the basic premise of your society has to be quite sound. Wrapping up said series is even harder, I believe. When following the popular plot structure of teen dystopians, where a brave young man or woman rises up to overthrow the government, there isn’t much leeway as to where the final book will lead you. Answers must be provided and their must come some sort of solution to the governmental issues.
Veronica Roth followed up her entertaining debut Divergent with Insurgent, a book that suffered very much from the middle-book syndrome and seemed to be heading off in the direction of a disappointing conclusion to what began as a promising premise. It was all in the hands of Allegiant to steer it all to a satisfactory conclusion, but while it was definitely a small step up from Insurgent, it wasn’t convincing enough.
Beware. Spoilers ahead and beyond!
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 meaningliess. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend to complexities of human nature – and of herself – while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.
After the big reveal at the end of Insurgent – which wasn’t all that big, since it wasn’t rocket science to figure out that there was more to life than Chicago – a rebel group rises who’s aim it is to restore life to the way it was before the Factions, the Allegiant. All the while, a battle for leadership is raging in Chicago between Marcus and Evelyn, the latter leader of the factionless. After much squabble, Tris, Caleb – convicted a traitor in the meantime for helping Jeanine – and Tobias tag along with the Allegiant on a trip outside the fence. Alas, that’s where things started to go awry.
“it gave way to some serious plotholes
As it turns out, Chicago was just one of several scientific experiments under control of the Bureau. After the war, these experiments were set up in order to select out the damaged genes and re-establish people with pure genes, the Divergent. While I applaud such a complex and scientific explanation to the dystopian society, it gave way to some serious plotholes. For starters, if Chicago is an experiment governed by the Bureau, how on earth can you explain everything that happened in Divergent? The main goal of the experiments, and thus the Bureau – also, what a name.. So vague, so mysterious, so cliché – was to give rise to Divergent. Still, they allowed Chicago’s government to kill off every single Divergent that came out of the testing? That’s a bit counterproductive, if you ask me. Same goes for Erudite’s war against Abnegation by use of the Dauntless. They used serums in their war, serums developed by the Bureau. No bonus points for experimental control there… Another thing that I fail to understand is the setup of said experiments. Humanity’s genes were damaged. Fair enough. Set up experiments for restoring those genes. Sound. Healthy genes are Divergent and don’t limit themselves to one single trait/Faction. Ok. So let’s create a Faction-system where transferring is discouraged – since 90% stays in the Faction where they were born. What? If you put people who share the same trait together and discourage interaction with other Factions, how can your experiment reach its conclusion? Isn’t genetic diversity needed in order to allow the gene pool to broaden? These two major issues I had with Allegiant really put me off.
All throughout, there was some random fighting in Chicago as well as in the Bureau with opposing groups trying to destroy each other and schemes and complots and lots of conflict. Also, the turbulent lovestory that began in Insurgent took some turns so that provided some drama. However, nothing really hit home, even though it was all very nice to read. The battle in Chicago also came to an end and while it was a sweet touch after a book with much fighting, it did not feel all that believable. Same goes for the big chock twist. It was very beautifully written and all was in place to provide a heart wrenching moment, but ever since Insurgent Tris put me off so it was hard to care all that much, sadly enough. That’s the problem with these characters for me, I just don’t care. I can’t seem to connect with any of them. Especially the men are hard to connect with since they all seem to fall in either the Will/Four or the Peter category. They just have different names. The coming of the Bureau brings along a whole new bunch of characters which you don’t see enough of to form any kind of connection with, only to see them killed a few hundred pages later.
“and schemes and complots and lots of conflict
When it comes to the main characters, Tris and Four, I can’t say that I love them – Insurgent is to blame for that – but I do kind of like them in a way that I think that they’re fit enough to be the main characters and are capable to carry the story on their shoulders. However, they continue to display their inaptitude to communicate with each other and others around them, which is infuriating at some points and just tiresome at others. How can you go on a mission like this and not communicate? Or at least put your personal troubles aside for a little while and work together as a team. It’s things like this that make me not care all that much when everything comes full circle.
If I applauded Veronica Roth for her daring premise, I should do this as well for her writing. Allegiant, just like its predecessors, displays some very solid and fast-paced writing. It’s not the most elaborate writing out there, but it’s fitting for the novel and that’s what’s important. If I do have a small remark on the writing, it’s the lack of difference in voice for Tris and Four. Whereas Divergent and Insurgent were solely told from the perspective of Tris, Allegiant has a dual perspective. However, if not for the character’s names at the beginning of each chapter, it would have been very hard to tell which chapter was narrated by whom.
Concluding a series is never easy and you’ll never satisfy every single reader. With Allegiant, Veronica Roth tried wrapping up her Divergent series in style. While she took the hard road and decided to give solid answers to everything, it just fell too short to satisfy me. I can’t deny, however, that I had a great time reading Divergent and quite enjoyed Insurgent and Allegiant. The latter did salvage part of what was on the edge of a mess at the end of Insurgent and as a whole, I think this series is a nice addition to the dystopian teen fiction. It’s not the best, but you can definitely do way worse than reading one of Veronica Roth’s offerings.
★ ★ ★
Rise up and join the rebellion now!