Review: Allegiant

When Allegiant came out in October, I was already in the middle of the book that I knew would be my last read before NaNoWriMo, and I knew this would mean that Allegiant would become my first read in December, which meant I needed to avoid spoilers! I wouldn’t read any Allegiant reviews, even if they said they were spoiler-free, just because I didn’t want to have too many hints, though I did catch a vibe from Twitter. So while I was technically spoiler-free going into the story, I ended up being  not too surprised by what happened.

*WARNING: If you haven’t read ALLEGIANT, SPOILERS AHEAD!*

allegiantFirst, I’ll explain my feelings on the series as a  whole. I enjoyed Divergent pretty well but I didn’t LOVE it was the same passion many do. I never fell completely in love with either Tris or Tobias/Four, or really any of the other characters for that matter. The character that interested me most was Caleb. And I wanted more background on the world because I find it a little unrealistic, at least without an explanation.

I thought Insurgent was a little bit better than OK, but definitely weaker than its predecessor. For starters, reading it a year after the first book, I could not remember who virtually ANYONE was. The pacing was funny to me. I never understood the motivation for the various wars being fought and why characters were doing what they were doing, and Tris and Four’s relationship issues especially annoyed me. But there were two very bright points in this book for me (at least in terms of how interesting they were): When Tris went to Erudite headquarters (at least I think that’s where she went?) to essentially sacrifice herself, and at the very end when they see the video and hear about the outside world. BOOM! That dropped the bomb had seriously been waiting two freaking books for.

So Allegiant started… a little slow. Not super slow, but the first few chapters felt a little worthless, just some stuff I think Veronica Roth felt she had to get out of the way before she got on with the good stuff. My opinion: I think she could have left most of it out. But then once Tris, Four, and some of the others left the city (with Caleb in tow), then it got good, finally going exactly where I wanted to see the story go even though I didn’t know it until it was happening.

So let me break down a little bit of what I did like…

The history of what happened. All the questions I had in Divergent were finally answered! Genetic engineering experiments?! Oh, I was eating it up! It all clicked for me.

The ending felt fitting. I will elaborate on this more later, but I felt that the ending was actually very appropriate for the series and pretty well done.

Tobias became a much better person and character at the end. Tobias annoyed me for most of Insurgent and Allegiant, so I appreciated how after what happened to Tris, after he accepted Christina’s help, and after he reconciled with his mother, he was changed for the better. And yet things weren’t all happy and with a bow on top at the end either. It was realistic and I appreciated it.

quote-allegiantBut there were things I did not like…

– Tris and company have a lot of facts and lies and emotions to deal with while they’re in the compound outside Chicago, and they’re trying to figure out how to stop the people there from being so obsessive about fixing the “genetically damaged.” But the thing is, they weren’t exactly right in the things they ultimately did. I can’t feel like Tris died for a good cause, really, or at least not a great one. I view her death as a symbol of her sacrificial love for her family, which makes it much easier to accept than doing it to hurt the people who were hurting her. Look, I’m not saying I have a better solution, and I’m sure the point is that some things are gray and even good people with the best intentions don’t always do things the way they ought to, but I’ve seen that played out much better before (see: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season six episode “In The Pale Moonlight”).

– Even though Tris and Tobias had a talk about what it means to respect each other and be honest (and there is a great line where Tris talks about choosing to love Tobias everyday) and they work through their issues better in this book than they did in Insurgent, their relationship still bugged me a lot. Part of it was the arguing and all that, but a lot of it was actually when they were in a good place and they were just too mushy for me. Ick. I like a good swoon, but Tris and Tobias are more vomit-inducing when they’re all lovey-dovey, at least for me personally. I honestly really wanted them to break up. Sorry.

I still couldn’t remember who ANYONE was! OK, it was not half as bad this time, but Shauna shows up in the end of Allegiant and I’m thinking, I remember this name and yet I have no recollection of who you are or why you are in a wheelchair. And a few other people like Cara… I don’t remember her. I even read Asti’s fabulous Recaptains posts to help me out but no such luck with all the characters. Either I have terrible book amnesia or Veronica Roth created too many unmemorable secondary characters.

AND THE BIGGEST PET PEEVE OF ALL…

WHAT THE HAY HAPPENED WITH CALEB?!?!?!

I mentioned earlier that in Divergent, I was interested in Caleb. I was saddened in Insurgent by what he did, but I thought, OK, in the third book we’ll find out why. Before Allegiant was released, I read somewhere that Veronica Roth said Caleb became her favorite secondary character while writing Allegiant. I thought, good, finally, we’re going to figure out what’s going on in Caleb’s head! 

gc-nope

WHAT THEY HAY VERONICA ROTH?!

I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO CALEB!

Tris spends 99% of the book not talking to him, then they have a two minute conversation, she dies in his place, and then… Tobias talks to him, right?! Nope. Not for long enough anyway. We never find out why Caleb did what he did. HE HAD TO HAVE REASONS! I cannot believe not a single beta reader or editor was like: “Hey, so… what was Caleb thinking about in Insurgent when he betrayed his sister? I mean, he obviously cares about her… so… what gives?”

SERIOUSLY.

There better be a Caleb novella is all I gotta say.

Rant over. For now.

So I briefly addressed Tris’ death earlier… I had a feeling she or Tobias was going to die based on fan reaction, and I was kind of hoping it was going to be him, but I knew it was more likely to be her, especially once Caleb volunteered to die. So when she did die, it was like, OK, that thing I thought might happen… just happened. And I honestly felt as if a burden had been lifted from the anxiety I had about reading the end of the trilogy. I wasn’t really worried about what else was going to happen afterwards…

But when Tobias stood in front of that mirror, shaved his head, and was ready to take that serum… I think it was the first time I really, honestly cared about him. I thought, nononono he can’t do this! Christina’s intervention and all that was perfect. Hands down, it was the most poignant scene of the trilogy. And it never would have happened if Tris had not died. That scene alone made it worth it for me, and I think what it did for Tobias made it worth it too.

So, needless to say, the ending of the story was bittersweet and not-all-together pretty, but gave the proper closure for the trilogy. Except with Caleb. Grrrrr. It had flaws, but overall I thought it was solid.

4stars2

Content Advisory: Moderate language, sexual content (includes making out and an off-screen sex scene) , and violence. 

What were your thoughts on Allegiant? Did Tris’ death surprise you? Anger you? Feel right to you?

Also see: Review: Divergent and Insurgent

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Review: Divergent and Insurgent

I heard a lot of buzz about Divergent by Veronica Roth as I was mourning my finishing of The Hunger Games trilogy, so I placed a hold for an e-book version of it through my library and checked it out when it became available.

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It was an interesting idea: the society in which the main character lives is divided into five different factions, each which have a certain focus: Erudite (intelligence), Candor (honesty), Amity (peace), Abnegation (selflessness), and Dauntless (bravery). Beatrice (later called Tris), tests well for multiple factions, which is extremely unusual (why is explained in Insurgent) and gives her the label Divergent. She ultimately chooses Dauntless when the time comes, though she was raised in Abnegation.  I didn’t really understand why a society would choose to function this way, but I decided to go along for the ride.

Beatrice decides to go by Tris as she goes through the very rigorous and exclusive training for Dauntless initiates. Not everyone will be accepted into the Dauntless faction, which will leave them factionless, a fate some would see as worse than death. She learns a lot about herself, overcomes fears, and falls for one of her trainers, who in turns likes her. Then at the end something happens, and Tris is one of the few who can fight to stop the problem (I’m remaining vague to avoid spoilers).

I enjoyed the book pretty well, though I didn’t like it quite as much as The Hunger Games, and had no problem patiently waiting for the sequel, Insurgent, to become available as an e-book in my library.

insurgent

Once it did and I got it checked it out, I accidentally selected that I only wanted it for 7 days, which isn’t a problem if I really love a book or if I have plenty of free time, but it was during the holidays, so I was wary of getting it read in time. Thankfully I did, but due to the lack of time, I did not bother to find any sort of refresher of the first book. The second book picks up right where the first leaves off, with no rehash of anything. Which I think is the way to do a second book, but apparently I had forgotten a lot in those few months, such as details of the end of the first book as well as who a lot of  the minor characters were. I think I spent the first half of the book asking, “Who’s that?” “What happened?” “What does this have to do with anything?”

But when Tris ends up getting taken by some people who want to study her divergence, I started to grow more interested in the story again. Also, I somehow ended up completely loving a super minor character who ends up dying a chapter or two after he is introduced, which I thought was quite an accomplishment since I still only kind of liked Tris and Four (Tris’ love interest) at this point. Then at the very end of the book, there is a twist in the story when we finally get an idea of why the society exists the way it does and why being Divergent is rare, and that made me much more interested reading book three when it comes and finishing the series than anything else that happened beforehand. So I am really hoping the final book will be a strong conclusion after the two first books that were good but not great (in my opinion anyway).

I do think Veronica Roth is a good writer (though I hate her now that I have learned that she is only 24! Ack! Stop being so talented and successful at 24!), but for some reason there has not been a big emotional connect between me and the books, and I also don’t find all the plot points interesting. I wish I could put my finger on why I feel this way; I hope I will have more insight when the series finishes and I find that the last book either finishes strong or falls flat.

Anyone else read Divergent or Insurgent? What’s your take on the series thus far?

Favorite quote of the series (so far): “Human beings as a whole cannot be good for long before the bad creeps back in and poisons us again.” (from Divergent)