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Allegiant (Divergent Series)
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on November 16, 2013

First, let's address the elephant in the room that is the topic of most discussion about this book: The ending. I want to make very clear that I am not a person who needs a happy ending in a book, nor did I even really expect one in this series. I don't read books because I expect to see "...and they lived happily ever after" on the last page. In fact if this book had ended with some flash-forward to the house and kids like certain other series did, I would have been just as annoyed. That's lame. I don't need happy. What I do need and expect, from any book, is an ending that makes sense and satisfies the story.

This ending was not that ending.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The real reason I give this book one star is because the book, as a whole, was awful. I'm sorry, but this is one of the most shoddily written books I've ever read in my entire life. And I say this as someone who absolutely adored the first two books in this series. I say this as someone who read Fifty Shades of Grey ... and Allegiant has officially taken that book's place as the worst book I've ever read. And I debated somewhat on that, but I decided that Allegiant wins because, while Fifty Shades was an affront to literature indeed, I don't actually wish I could go back in time and unread it. I wish to the heavens that I had never read Allegiant.

Let me first talk about the writing style. Roth employs the use of a dual narrative in this book, a departure from the first two books. I am not opposed to this style at all - in fact, I welcome it, as I find that a single-person narrative can sometimes be restricting. When done right, a dual narrative can allow a book to tackle parallel storylines and provide insights that you wouldn't get from following the story from one person's perspective.

This dual perspective was a mess.

When you use two first-person narrators, you have to (a) give them different perspectives to justify the use of this gimmick in the first place, and (b) make sure the voices are distinct so readers can actually tell who is speaking. Allegiant fails on both counts. The only reason this style was used is because of how the book ends, because beyond that there was simply no purpose for it. We did not get any new perspectives on either the story or his personality through using Tobias as a narrator. Whatever new information he learned without Tris being present, he passed it on to her anyway so it became repetitive. Outside of those moments, the two were pretty much in the same place the entire time, so we had no real parallel storylines going on, and having them in the same place made it very difficult to tell who was actually talking.

And this is the real failure with the dual narrative: Tris and Tobias were written identically. I, along with every single person who has reviewed this book, found myself constantly flipping back to check the chapter heading to remind myself who was talking. They were written like they were the same person, which is a shame because one of them is supposed to be a dude. What happened to Four the badass, the Dauntless legend, the one who was sensitive but tough, the one who took charge rather than let other people lead him? Well, apparently he was out buying tampons, because Allegiant turned Tobias into a 15-year-old girl. And a damn annoying one that I wanted to slap. With dueling angst-ridden girl voices, it was impossible to tell Tris and Tobias apart because they sounded exactly like each other. Actually, Tobias didn't sound like Tris in this book because Tris didn't even sound like Tris. Both characters were wildly different from how they were written in the previous books - Tobias becoming a whiny pansy and Tris a nagging know-it-all shrew. This made it that much harder to tell who was talking, since they weren't even the same people we knew. It was like they were both replaced by a third person who inhabited their bodies simultaneously.

Roth simply does not know how to write in another voice than, presumably, her own. I predict that the narrator in her next book will sound suspiciously like Tris even if it's a 75-year-old Japanese man.

Now that that's out of the way, let's get down to the meat and potatoes of why this is one of the worst books I've ever read: The plot.

This entire series has been building up to the Big Reveal: What is outside the fence that surrounds Chicago? Why were these people placed here? Why was the faction society really created? Now we're finally getting our answers. And it's even dumber than I ever could have imagined.

The series' premise was pretty flimsy. How could human beings be broken down by a single trait? Why would anyone think that segregating people based on their differences would be conducive to maintaining peace? Clashing ideals and competing belief systems have been the cause of mankind's wars since the beginning of time. And most of all, why is it no one apparently leaves the city, never even seems to occur to anyone to try? These plot holes were apparent from the beginning, but until now the story still worked mainly because it wasn't self-conscious about the premise. The previous books focused directly on the plot, not back story, and so you could ignore the "Why"s and just assume it would be addressed at the end. This book not only addresses the premise at last but brings it front and center.

Roth has said that she didn't really know where this story was going when she first started the series. This obvious fact finally catches up with her in Allegiant, as the entire premise completely falls apart with the most illogical, nonsensical, scientifically bogus back story that was ever pulled out of a person's ass.

Here's the skinny: Many years ago, in order to cure people of undesirable traits such as cowardice, selfishness, aggression, low intelligence and dishonesty (sound familiar?) - which were believed to be the cause of all of humanity's problems - some moron scientists figured out how to remove the specific genes that caused these traits. The alterations began to take effect after a few generations, and what they discovered was that removing the gene for one trait just enhanced another bad trait (um, duh), leading to a war between those who had been genetically altered and those who hadn't. The morons sought to correct their mistake by rounding up scores of genetically damaged people, sticking "corrected" genes in them, and locking them up in a controlled environment to wait for them to reproduce enough times for the bad genes to heal and return to a state of genetic purity (aka divergence).


First off, any genetic manipulation, whether removing or adding a gene, would manifest right in the subject being altered. It does not take multiple generations to appear. And so, if these people had the technology to remove a gene at one time, they can use that technology to put that same gene right back where it came from - and fix it at one time.

But even if the scientists were unaware of this, why would they put everyone in the experimental cities? If the goal is for these people to pass on these "corrections" for their descendants to be "fixed," they could do that anywhere. And, in fact, should - reproduce with the genetically pure people so the damaged genes will be watered down. But isolating them and forcing them to interbreed will only a create a founder effect: with no variation in this small genetic population, the damaged genes they carry will only become prevalent over time. They will just as likely make the defect stronger and eventually create new and perhaps even screwier genes through mutations as they would achieve any imaginary genetic "healing." If these people are such a scourge on society, the only reason it would be prudent to round them up in one place is so they could blow them all up at once.

This also doesn't work as an explanation for the society being divided into factions. They say they added this "nurture" component to some of the cities to see if it would help. How would encouraging their inborn behavior help? How would this aid the goal of "genetic healing" to isolate the people even further by keeping like aptitudes together so they end up reproducing with people with the same strain of genetic damage they have? The bad genes will get even worse.

And it still doesn't explain why no one ever leaves the city. So they were being watched. So what? These people were trapped for some 200 years with no idea what they were doing here, and no one in that time ever thought, "Hmm, I wonder if there's anything outside. Let's go find out"? Human beings are curious animals. If we were not inclined to explore our surroundings and push past barriers, most of the planet would be uninhabited. And Roth expects me to believe that an entire population stayed where they were, for that long, not knowing why they were here or why they couldn't leave, because of a fence and some guards with memory serum? How would that stop anyone? How does that explain why they never even tried? Unless the manipulations also involved removing the common sense gene, these experiments wouldn't have lasted eight weeks, never mind eight generations.

Was this really the best she could do? It's like she just ran with the first dumb idea that popped into her head without thinking it through or doing any research despite basing the ENTIRE PREMISE around a researchable topic. Honestly, just five minutes on the Wikipedia would have told her why it wouldn't work. Science fiction needs some level of plausibility. It doesn't have to make complete sense to OUR world logic as long as we are shown why it should make sense to the story's world logic. But this doesn't even hold up within the logic of the story - the experiment is inherently counterproductive to its purpose and an unrealistic waste of time with no context provided for why anyone would be so stupid, and retroactively applying this explanation to the story presented in the first two books just creates more plot holes.

But the worst offense is that this backstory is just anticlimactic and LAME. "Guess what, kiddies? Your lives are really a science project, there are cameras everywhere and people have been watching you Truman Show-style this entire time from a command center literally right down the street and yet somehow none of you ever figured this out for 200 years." Great idea. That's totally believable and doesn't make everything that happened in the series feel pointless AT ALL. Please. And throwing this nonsense in at the last minute? Might as well just say the whole thing was a dream. Suspension of disbelief can only go so far, and then a story is just too dumb to take seriously.

Sometimes a wacky concept only works if you accept it as is. She should have just left the premise alone and not tried to explain anything.

A lot of people say the ending ruins the series. For me, it's this backstory that ruins it because I now feel like I've been led on a wild goose chase as it is clear that Roth had no real plan for her story and was making it all up as she went along. The whole thing has the agonizingly awkward feel of an author who realized too late that she wrote herself into a corner and then half-assed her way out. Here's what I think: She had this idea for this funny little city with people living a funny sort of way and wrote a book around this idea with no intention of having any larger story behind it, but then she had to write two more books and realized she needed to come up with one after all. And so she crammed a series' worth of explanations into one book to make a "real story" out of it - and somehow ended up writing a completely different story altogether.

I think the moment she decided to find a scientific reason for divergence was the death knell for the story, and not just because her decision to have divergence be nothing makes the whole series feel like a waste of time. It seems she couldn't think of a "larger story" that worked to this angle AND stayed in line with the plot points she already wrote, so she opted for Biology For Dummies over continuity and twisted the story right out of coherence. The radical shift in story direction from ideological warfare between factions to science run amok and civil rights, taking the characters completely out of the current plot and inserting them into a new story so random as to be irrelevant - it feels like a book out of a totally different series rather than the conclusion of an existing one. It's all too far removed from the current story, like Tris and company crossed the fence and accidentally walked into the wrong book - one with choppy writing, characters who either fade into the wallpaper or undergo lobotomies, nonexistent worldbuilding, themes as subtle as a two-by-four and plot holes the size of minivans.

And worse, it's boring. Once the characters arrive at the Bureau the story comes to a halt and the book becomes one big infodump, but rather than making discoveries everything is just thrown at them. The big revelation felt very forced, like the author was saying to the reader, "Okay, this is what I came up with..." Just explanations upon explanations that somehow never really explain anything. And retcons! Oh, the shameless retcons. Remember when Edith/Amanda said she was a leader of an organization fighting for justice and peace and the Divergent were the signal for the people to come out? No, the video was a lie and they never wanted them to come out at all. Um, why would the video even exist, then? Am I not supposed to notice that Roth was just dropping this cliffhanger because she decided to switch tactics after Insurgent? The Bureau supplied Jeanine Matthews with the simulation serum to lead the attack on Abnegation so they wouldn't reveal this video. Um, if the Divergent are so precious, wouldn't it have made more sense to slip memory serum to the Abnegation so they wouldn't release the video, rather than instigate the slaughter of a high proportion of genetically pure people in the faction? And the big one, Natalie Prior was working for the Bureau and was inserted into Dauntless as a spy. Um, if she knew what was really going on and that the Bureau was saving Divergents, why wouldn't she help her own daughter escape? Why would she give her own life to save this video and reveal the "truth" if she knew it was a lie?

Anyway. It's at this point that we abandon the old premise and become immersed in a flimsy new construct where people are labeled by their genes and we are served an after-school special about prejudice so preachy and obnoxious that half the time I felt like the book was yelling at me. The world outside the fence, a paint-by-numbers mashup of every dystopian cliche ever written, is never fully fleshed out and so the reader can't connect with any of it. The trips to the Fringe serve very little purpose in advancing the story, and Tobias getting involved in their "uprising" was mind-boggingly stupid. Why in the world would Tobias, who intrinsically distrusts people and expects the worst of them, accept Nita's plans on face value when he barely knows her? Because he's bothered by the fact that he's "genetically damaged"? The Tobias we know wouldn't have even cared about that. It made sense for him to fall for Evelyn's lies in Insurgent because she was his mother and he was desperate to believe in her, but he knows nothing about Nita or any of these people and has no loyalty to them. Total character assassination for the sake of an utterly random plot point. Seriously, why is this story suddenly all about a battle for genetic equality?

And you know the whole factionless/Allegiant war, the thing the series used to be about? That all pretty much takes place offscreen and is barely even included in the book. And don't get me started on how it ends. Big Bad Evelyn, hellbent on world domination, plans to just kill everyone as the final step in said world domination plan. And she throws that all away because her son says pretty please with sugar on top. What??? Evelyn was never portrayed as anything other than a cold, calculating megalomaniac. But the son she never gave a crap about begs her to be his mommy again and, poof, she's not evil anymore? Give me a break. I might have forgiven the lack of buildup if she at least didn't cave so easily. Because it was Too Damn Easy. So easy that I wonder why Tobias didn't just do that 400 pages ago and saved me the trouble of thinking this story was going somewhere. And to top it off, Marcus just accepts her peace treaty and agrees to leave, just like that? Who are these people and what happened to the real Eatons? I actually don't mind that Marcus slinks off to who knows where and nobody even cares. It's a fitting end for a terrible man who only cared about how much he mattered over others. But I don't buy that he would cave so easily, either. What a lazy cop out.

And speaking of crap, let's discuss the ending. From cheap racism allegory to cheap religious allegory. Tris's sacrificial death. Like I said earlier, I don't need a happy ending in a story. I am not even opposed to the main character dying. I'll let you in on a little secret: I was spoiled on this detail prior to reading the book, and my reactions were, in order: annoyance that I had gotten spoiled; sadness that Tris dies; excited curiosity for the story; and then sadness again as Tris's death sunk in and I actually cried for a half hour - and I hadn't even read the book yet. I cried because I grieved this character, not because I was angry or disappointed about her death. I thought the idea was actually pretty cool. I never would have guessed that Tris would die. How many times in these books do the heroes miraculously survive against all odds? Every time. How refreshing, in theory, for the hero to actually not make it out. I was intrigued.

And then I read the damn book.

I think most people who do love this ending only look at the situation within the actual moment of sacrifice: The idea that Tris would take her brother's place. I agree with this. It is literally the only authentic or believable moment in the entire book. Of course Tris couldn't let Caleb die for the reasons he said; she is way too selfless slash stupid to let someone throw their life away when she could step in for them. The theme of this whole story, as the book repeatedly tells us, is about sacrifice. Tris was Abnegation at heart, and so her actions make perfect sense in the situation. She did what she had to do. The problem, though, is why she had to do it in the first place - how the situation came about.

When Tris offered to sacrifice herself in the previous books, it was because she found herself in a situation to do so due to circumstances beyond her control. But here the characters go out of their way to create the situation for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

The entire storyline was contrived just to shove the sacrifice in her lap.

The plan to release memory serum onto the people at the Bureau was totally arbitrary. They make no effort to come up with another plan to stop the Bureau from resetting the experiment, and there were much more logical options available to try. Why not work toward a plan to sabotage the vessels deploying the memory serum over the city? Why not try to evacuate everyone? Why not beg for a temporary stay of execution while Tobias talks his parents down from their war plans, since that's precisely what he ended up doing anyway? That was the reason David ordered the reset to begin with, so if they'd just done that in the first place they could have nipped the reset in the bud right off. But somehow the only thing they can think of is a mass memory wipe.

Here is where the story lost me: They learn the Weapons Lab is rigged with death serum, but rather than set out to try to get the passcode or hack into the system or disable the trigger somehow or just THINK OF ANOTHER IDEA, they immediately elect someone to go on a suicide mission. This attack wasn't going down in the next five minutes. They had 48 hours and they make NO effort to think of a plan where someone wouldn't have to die. Well. That's conveniently stupid.

And that death serum trap - can you say "random plot device"? Roth uses a slew of these to basically deus ex machina her way through the plot. Evelyn wants to kill everyone with death serum. The Bureau wants to stop this with memory serum. Our heroes want to stop THEM with more memory serum. It's all artificial conflict; it's contrived. Somehow there's a serum to magically fix any problem and yet the gang ignores all the myriad ways they could use them. Why not get truth serum from the Candor, since evidently it's very easy to drive in and out of the city all of a sudden, and coax the passcode out of David? Why do they need to release the memory serum en masse? Why not just get some from the Amity using it to keep people in the city and use it directly on the folks in charge of the reset? Or take the sample Tobias planned to give to one of his parents and use it on David? It is unfathomable that they wouldn't even think to try anything else with someone's life on the line. Logic, schmogic - gotta work that sacrifice thing into the story somehow!

Amazingly, it's Tris who proposes this foolish plan in the first place. Tris can be tough and unforgiving, and I get that she would want retaliation against the people responsible for the attack that killed her parents (Retcon alert!), but she is not evil, or stupid. It was glaringly out of character for her to denounce the Bureau's plan to erase people's memories as wicked and depraved, a fate worse than death, only to then suggest doing the exact same thing to them - even though most of the Bureau workers were innocent. Why is this a better option? Her answer: It isn't, but this one saves the people THEY care about. What? Who is this person? Dismissing one group as expendable to save your own interests. The Abnegation would be proud. This moral relativism might work in another context, but it's counterintuitive to Tris's death as a testament to her selflessness for her to die committing an ultimately selfish act. The others even acknowledge what a questionable plan this is but concede that they don't know what else to do. That's not an excuse. It's not okay just because you can't think of a better idea, and for them to act like it is was also out of character.

And in what world would Tobias think that Tris would EVER stand by and watch her brother walk to his death? She's pulled this crap before and he's always called her out on it. Maybe getting his period interfered with his radar.

It would be different if the plan was a last-minute, last resort idea; if all alternatives were proven inaccessible and there was just no other way; if the characters had been established as morally bankrupt morons prone to jumping to extreme worst-case scenarios before working through problems rationally. But none of these is true. In her last moments, Tris says true sacrifice comes from necessity and not without exhausting other options. Exactly which options did they exhaust? This situation was not necessary; it was impulsive, irrational and just plain idiotic. And for what?

Since this book did such a good job of effectively reducing the city to pointlessness, I actually wondered why it even mattered if the reset happened or not and why I was supposed to care - especially since literally none of the characters we cared about were in any danger. I get that they care and they need to stop it, but the larger issue of reprogramming the Bureau's agenda was laughably absurd. So they tricked one building full of people into believing in genetic equality. So what? The rest of the world still doesn't. Nothing changed beyond Chicago, and what happened here was ludicrous. They all just accepted the lies they were told? Nothing contradicted them? These people answer to a higher authority overseeing the experiment in other cities. The government would just replace these workers with new ones who hadn't lost their minds. The idea that they would let them stay in charge and turn Chicago into some GD/GP utopia wasn't believable either.

THIS is what our hero's final moment is built on?

I would have no problem with Tris dying, would even applaud it, if the circumstances truly called for it. As I said, I knew her fate going in, and so I anticipated a good story, an epic death for a truly epic character. A hero's sacrifice. But there are way too many holes in this story to justify a sacrifice by anyone. Roth needed to deliver Tris to her destiny but failed to create a believable, organic or even vaguely logical path to take her there, instead using cheap plot devices, actions with no logic and characters behaving woefully OUT of character to force the story into its prearranged conclusion. And while one might blame this on a lack of creative skill, truthfully I believe the problem is simply that she rushed through this book and did not take time to properly think out the plotline for her ending. The unfortunate result is a hastily put together concoction that is too flawed to support its goal. It rings false, and it is very jarring to place such a "real" moment at the end of what feels like a fake story.

Even if we accept the nonsense that put Tris in the Weapons Lab in the first place, her death was still unnecessary. She survived the death serum by sheer force of will, proof that she did not want to die - but now the plot officially no longer required her to die. I admit I am not opposed to the irony of Tris the Invincible being taken out by something as mundane as a couple of bullets, but the scene in which David confronts and shoots her felt too convenient and contrived just to ensure her death. The actions, once again, did not feel organic to the story or the characters, and so I was acutely aware that it was not David's hand pulling the trigger, but Roth's. She was forcing the story to kill her. But why?

When the main character dies, it should be integral to the plot. Either it was the unavoidable result of preceding actions, or the required catalyst for later actions. We know the former is not even remotely true, but what about the latter? What did her death create? If Tris could have carried out the mission without dying but was killed some other way anyway, it had to be because her death was needed to move the story forward - her death, and not the mission itself, was an instrument of change on its own.

But her death didn't do anything. It didn't move the plot. It didn't motivate the other characters into actions that moved the plot, nor did it change them in any way. Her death didn't save the city. The memory serum would have worked the same way even if David hadn't shot her as she was setting it off. Nothing that took place in the aftermath of her death was actually the result of her death.

Tris's death was meaningless from a plot perspective and served no purpose beyond the thematic point of sacrifice. And while the relevance of this theme to her character is clear, the failure to incorporate the necessity of her death into the narrative makes it seem merely arbitrary.

I read Roth's blog where she explains Tris's journey in trying to understand sacrifice. The first time Tris attempts sacrifice, it's for love but unnecessary so she lives; the second time it's necessary-ish but not for love so she lives. But this last time she got it right, love AND necessity, so she dies. Congrats, Tris, you did it for the RIGHT reasons this time! You know what you believe in now! Your search for identity is over and so you've no need to traverse this earthly plane anymore. And so you shall die, because you earned it!

I find it disturbing that this story about a girl's quest for identity, which speaks to the reality of so many young readers, ends by basically saying that since she has found her sense of self she no longer needs to go on. Becoming whole doesn't mean your job is done now! That's when the real test begins - true, honest and certain of who you are and what you want to do. This is when you start living. What does Tris gain by dying?

This final act is meant to be the culmination of Tris's story of growth and discovery, but she achieves her growth when she realizes why she must take Caleb's place. Her understanding of sacrifice is satisfied in her willingness to die for him, because she loved him, because there was no other way; actually dying neither added to that point nor made the sacrifice any more real, and her actions don't tell us anything we didn't already know. We always knew she was selfless and brave and willing to sacrifice herself. Even though she wasn't "trying" to be sacrificial this time - she was just trying to do right by her brother - she is still doing the same thing she always does, because this was always who she was. It doesn't add to our understanding of her for her to do it again. I am also alarmed by Roth's logic that Tris's death honors her parents, who died for her. Her mother's ghost/hallucination even appears to tell her how proud she is of her. (Whatever.) Yes, when I sacrifice myself for my child, I don't want her to honor my beliefs by living a good selfless life. I want her to go out of her way to risk her life in the name of selflessness just to prove herself to me. Sure.

Tris found her way back to Abnegation when she decided to take the risk for her brother. She did not need to die to do so UNLESS DYING WAS THE ONLY WAY TO DO IT. But it wasn't; she was able to survive this. Forcing her death is just forcing the point for its own sake, as all story outcomes would have been exactly the same if she had lived. The story did not need Tris to die. She only died because the author felt that she should, because "her journey was over." That is contrived. That is dying for the sake of dying.

That is pointless.

When you do something as controversial as killing off the main character, even if it was planned that way all along, you absolutely must execute it properly. The story must be tight, the writing flawless - otherwise it falls flat. This was not executed well at all. It was not fulfilling; it was empty and unsatisfying. There was no emotional payoff, no promise of hope, no real resolution. A book with a devastating ending can leave a reader emotionally spent but satisfied, if there is some purpose to it. But this ending came off as too senseless, and so, like most senseless tragedies, it just leaves you feeling traumatized. And angry.

Writers should not tailor their stories a certain way purely to appease the audience - that would be pandering - but a published author has a certain responsibility to take their readers' expectations into consideration. Roth once stated that she felt the Harry Potter series would have been better if Harry died - that it would have been the most powerful moment in the story and an incredible act of heroism. In explaining Tris's death, she says that Tris had earned an ending as "powerful" as she was. I am a little disturbed by her romanticized notions about sacrifice and death, obvious Christ parallels and all, in books aimed at young audiences. J.K. Rowling has said she did consider this ending for Harry, but she knew that such a twist, "powerful" or not, was just not what her audience wanted.

Roth would do well to learn this lesson in understanding your audience. Her idea was fine in theory, maybe, but probably not for a YA fantasy series. I suspect this is why so many readers complained of feeling "cheated" by this ending - this isn't what they signed up for. Personally I love the idea of Tris going out in a blaze of Abnegation-style glory, but I'm several years outside the target market and so that may be why this type of ending doesn't bother me in principle as it does others. What does bother me, though, is how horribly executed it was. The whole affair was crap.

The whole BOOK was crap.

Now, I don't think all the blame for the absymal nature of this or any book falls squarely on the author. I think when a series is an established success, the editors and publisher likely don't feel the pressure to crank out a truly quality product since they know it's going to be a bestseller regardless. This book really needed three or four more rounds of rewrites before it should have ever been allowed to go to print. It reads like a rough draft. Guaranteed moneymaker or not, I can only assume the editors were drunk when they let this through.
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on October 24, 2013
I finished this last night and afterwards I felt just dead inside. I absolutely hate when a series ends leaving me feeling unsatisfied and even, in this case, angry. I feel kind of betrayed by the author.

I loved Divergent. The book had its faults, but I really fell in love with the whole story, the characters, the romance between Tris and Four, the Factions, etc. I read and re-read Divergent probably 8-10 times. I bought the audio book version as well. I was SO PSYCHED about the movie! I bought Insurgent and devoured it as well. It didn't have quite the same magic for me that Divergent did, but I still loved it. So I was REALLY psyched to read Allegiant.

And maybe my hopes were too high.

I don't know.

That doesn't change the fact that this book utterly and completely disappointed me.


For real, SPOILERS!



**What's outside the fence?**

I was really excited, after reading the 'cliffhanger' ending to Insurgent, to find out what was outside the fence. I had my theories, and I was right about some, wrong about others. I was expecting the cameras and Truman Show-esque thing, but I was not expecting all the genetic manipulation crap. As soon as our heroes get outside the fence, there are chapters and chapters of info dumping and, to be honest, it's kind of dull. We learn that Chicago (and some other cities) were created as 'experiments' because of genetic manipulation gone wrong. Supposedly these cities were an attempt at creating more 'genetically pure' people (aka Divergents). This is so far-fetched and bizarre, but I was willing to go along with it.

**Tris and Four**

I wasn't against the dual perspective, though once I finished the book I realized why she HAD to write it in a dual perspective. However, I don't think it was done well. There were several times where I would get halfway through a chapter and not remember who I was in the head of at the time, mostly because the two narrators had identical voices.

Tris has always been an interesting character to me. I really liked that she was tough, but a little vulnerable and naive. I liked her progression through Divergent and Insurgent. She doesn't really progress much here. We've always known Tris is a selfless person who is more than willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good, or for her loved ones. That doesn't change here. More on that later. She does become kind of arrogant and holier-than-thou here, and it really started to bug me. She's 16, but she often acts (and everyone treats) her like a grown-up. She is pretty much always right in Allegiant and she makes sure everyone knows it.

Four was awesome in Divergent. He loses all of that awesomeness in Allegiant. He becomes quite whiny and pathetic to the point where I actually wanted Tris to break up with him. She probably should have, considering some of the stupid and completely out of character stuff he does. I really hated seeing him reduced to this quivering mess of a boy who does nothing but wax poetic about his mommy and daddy issues. Four was always strong, and he is the polar opposite of that here.

I did enjoy the progression of their relationship though. Some people have complained about the scene where Four accuses Tris of being jealous, but I actually liked it. I like that they, FOR ONCE, acted like TEENAGERS. Unfortunately that was a tiny part of this book, and for the rest of it they act like 30-40 year old worldly adults.


So we have Four's mother Evelyn running Chicago like a factionless tyrannical dictatorship. Johanna and Marcus running the Allegiant, trying to reinstate the factions.

Evelyn has been portrayed as a nearly heartless person, hell bent on making all the Factioned people clean toilets like the Factionless had to do for so many years. At the height of the conflict, she is willing to allow a "Death Serum" to kill pretty much everyone in Chicago in order to avoid going back to the Factions. This is when Four arrives and says "Hey Mom, I'll be your son again if you stop acting like a monster" and she goes "Okay."

She then negotiates with Marcus and Johanna. Marcus wants to take over as evil dictator and Johanna says "Nah, you're not gonna do that" and Marcus just says "Okay."

Conflict over.



**Mass Murder**

Roth has not shied away from killing off characters in the first two books, but I felt like most of that had a purpose. Tris' parents in the first book, Al (due to the guilt over his own actions towards Tris), Jeannine in Insurgent, and more. Deaths in Allegiant come just as rapidly and have even less meaning. Tori dies in a very sudden manner, and then is mostly forgotten about. She was referred to as the leader of the Dauntless, but she is killed and then is nothing more than an afterthought for the rest of the book.

Uriah's death is given a lot more page time, but only as a way to make Four feel like total garbage for getting involved in the rebellion and to make Tris "right" once again.

The biggest death of all was Tris, and this was the biggest disappointment to me. I will be straight up honest - I LIKE a happy ending. I read YA because I like knowing that things will most likely end up happy overall. I read romance because I know there will always be a happily ever after. HOWEVER, I can deal with a bittersweet ending so long as it feels satisfying and feels like closure.

Tris' death was NOT that ending.

Caleb's betrayal was a huge part of Insurgent, and that continues on in Allegiant. He has a LOT to atone for in Allegiant and when he volunteers for the suicide mission to help save everyone, he does it because he wants Tris to forgive him. And he doesn't want to live with the guilt of what he did. Instead of letting him, Tris forces him to let her go instead. I understand this. Tris forgave him and doesn't want him to die because he feels guilty. I get it.


Caleb doesn't get that opportunity to redeem himself. While I understand that Tris acted the way she had to act, that doesn't mean Caleb can't take a bullet for her. That doesn't mean he can't force a redemption. Instead, Tris dies in a completely unsatisfying scene that left me going "WHAT THE HECK JUST HAPPENED?" Caleb lives and basically still is the coward and traitor.

Caleb NEEDED to redeem himself. He needed to take that bullet for Tris and die.

Instead, we get this messed up ending where Caleb lives. Peter lives (gets his mind erased BY HIS OWN CHOICE and gets to start over). Marcus lives (just disappears somehow). David (Tris' murderer) lives (also gets his mind erased and even though he's an evil murderer, no one cares because he doesn't remember). Almost all the bad guys live and get to have perfectly happy, normal lives.



Sorry, but this book was awful. I wanted to love it. I REALLY wanted to love it. I was willing to deal with all the weird genetically damaged stuff. I was willing to deal with the complete dismantling of Four's character. I was willing to deal with a lot, but Tris' pointless and needless death... NOPE. This death felt like it was here for shock value only. So the author could be "edgy" and "different."

Unfortunately, all she did for me is ruin the entire series. I won't be re-reading Divergent or Insurgent anymore. I won't be re-reading Allegiant. And I definitely won't be seeing the movies that I was once so excited for. Knowing how depressingly it ends ruins it all for me
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on October 26, 2013
I absolutely loved the first two books and could not wait to read the third. I started reading the book and finished it in two days but not because it kept my interest. I just wanted to know how it ended.
Some of the explanations given were hard to wrap my mind around and seemed implausible. I have read several books that change character point-of-view and it is an extremely difficult task because the author has to capture the book through each characters' personality. This author wasn't incredibly successful with this as the tone seemed the same through the whole book.

Spoiler Alert
I don't understand the reasoning for killing Tris at the end of the book. She beats the death serum, releases the memory serum, only to be killed by a gun?!? What was the purpose of her dying? The idea that she went instead of Caleb was successful in expressing the idea of self-sacrifice for love and not guilt. She didn't need to actually die. I cried and felt so empty at the end.
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on November 11, 2013
Reading the last book in this series was akin to buying all the yummy ingredients to baking a cake, placing it in tho oven, waiting impatiently for the oven timer to go off with a ding ! ....only for the cake to come out of the oven completely deflated. That's how I felt when I read this book.

I got hooked on the first of this series, Divergent, with the concept of the factions and excellent character development of Tris and Four. I felt they were multi dimensional and not your typical badass YA heroine and hero. I was shocked at who the author decided to kill off in the first book but took it stride due to the journey that I anticipated Tris would need to travel.

Well, after reading this last of the series, the word I would choose would be: betrayed. I did not care for the choice to alternate voices between Tris and Four so quickly from one chapter to the next...I did not like the Big a Brother twist nor the focus on the GP vs. GD after all the time invested in the Factions and Factionless.

So, in a nutshell, read the book for closure. Read the book since you've waited so long from the initial book,Divergent. But start the book knowing you may just walk away feeling like the air was let out of a balloon...
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on November 14, 2013
I had high expectations. I am disappointed. I hate the back and forth between Tris and Four perspective. Multiple times I had to go back to the beginning of the chapter to see who's perspective I was reading. It was annoying and boring.
I really loved Divergent. I even liked people dying. But, this book did not do Divergent justice. This book did not do the characters justice.
I can never get back the hours I wasted reading this. I will NOT waste any more of my time or money on Veronica Roth.
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on November 8, 2013
First off: Spoilers. There will be lots in here. Well actually, only one, which is really what it all comes down to, and which, I suspect, is going to make this series both notorious and wildly successful for the foreseeable future. And btw, I gave this 2 rather than 1 star because it kept me reading till the disastrous ending, which must mean something. But anyway, about *that* ending:

First of all, I don't call the ending disastrous because it's tragic. There are novels with devastating endings built on tragic love stories that I've nevertheless loved - "At Swim, Two Boys" and "As Meat Loves Salt" come immediately to mind. Or in the YA realm: "The Book Thief" or "The Sweet Far Thing" or "The Amber Spyglass." Yet while I loved all of those books, I hated "Allegiant", to the point - two stars not withstanding - where I wish I'd never read it.

As a writer, that's something I don't say lightly; in fact I don't think I've ever said it at all, about any book. And the thing is, I don't hate it because Tris died. I get the Christ analogy. I get that sacrificing herself to save everyone she loves is the obvious culmination of being both Abnegation and Dauntless. Thematically it makes perfect sense, and executed differently, it might have made a poignant ending, rather than one that made me wish I could scrape it out of my head. What it killed it for me is that the story wasn't strong enough support the death of the main character, and in so many ways that there really isn't any room for equivocation.

To begin with, the plot was riddled with holes. For instance (and ignoring the most ridiculous ones) what good is it going to do to 'reset' this one facility to forget their prejudices and save the memories of another small group of people, when there's no evidence that the rest of the world isn't working on the same prejudiced principles, doing the same thing? None of the kids plotting the insurrection have been any further than the GP facility. What do they really know? And then, who exactly is left in Chicago for the reader to care about, once the main characters have left? If Tobias had been left behind, and was in danger of being reset or killed or whatever, then I could have begun to understand Tris's choice. But condemning him to grief and misery because It's The Right Thing To Do and My Brother's Doing It For the Wrong Reasons? It doesn't wash.

Speaking of characters: none of the supporting cast is particularly well fleshed out, and as a result I didn't really care about any of them. The relationship between Tris and Tobias was the reason I kept reading. So take that away, and yes, it feels like a betrayal. In fact I'm guessing this is the root of most of the vitriol over this ending - not that Tris died, per se, but that the reader isn't left with anything redeeming to look to, any bright spot amidst the loss. All we get is a Tobias more broken than he was already, and a society that's miraculously healed within two years of its extremely virulent problems. And that's a pretty paltry offering when you've invested nearly 2000 pages in a love story.

I also resented the gap between the gain and the enormity of Tris's sacrifice (never mind that she was doing to one group of people exactly what they'd planned to do to another.) Maybe the future of humanity did depend on 'resetting' the scientists, but if so, the evidence eluded me. It read as if Tris died for the dubious honor of re-educating a building full of bigots, and for the love of her wishy-washy brother who tried to kill her. Why? What about her love for Tobias, and his for her? What about his brokenness, and how much he needed her to be whole? And then, there's a whole world beyond the research complex that she knew nothing about, except by hearsay, and that, therefore, could easily have undone what she died for the next day. It all left me mentally screaming: 'Whyyyyyy?'

But the deal-breaker for me comes not in the writer-analysis, but in the mommy-analysis. I have an 11-year-old daughter who is a very precocious reader. And while I generally don't censor what she reads - 'The Book Thief' and 'The Mortal Instruments' and 'Ender's Game' are some recents - I would never give her this book, for the simple reason that the main and most identifiable female character, who is otherwise actually a pretty decent role model for young girls, dies to save someone who really doesn't deserve it. Liberal commie-mommy that I am, I can't bear to propagate the attitude that women's primary value is in giving to others at the expense of themselves. Yes, selflessness is admirable, and necessary if we aren't all going to sink back into the Cosmic Soup. But angsty, dramatic, half-baked heroics? Spare me.
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on December 29, 2013
What was the point of the fighting and personal growth as well as the growth of the relationship between Tris and Tobias if the plan was to kill Tris off all along. I stayed up to finish the 3rd book into the early hours only to go to bed with a soaked pillow and a massive headache from crying and being so angry at Roth that it motivated me to write the review. I will not go see these movies because I refuse to fall in love more with Tris/Four only to know how their story is cut short and absolute gratification is ripped away from us at the very end. I won't read anything else Veronica Roth may write and that's a promise!
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on April 8, 2014
I jumped into these books after watching the movie two weekends ago because I just couldn't WAIT to find out what the back story of this whole divergent/faction business was and boy am I disappointed.


In order of what bothered me about this book:

1) The ending. I read books hoping that things will turn out well and protagonists will get to live their lives out in happiness. It might be cheesy, but it's uplifting to believe that good things happen to good people. And even when it doesn't, I get upset and cry, but as long as there's a good reason -- I'd take it and ultimately say, "I guess I see why". Here, though, there is no happy ending and no good reason.

Tris' death, as so many before me has voiced, is senseless. The fact that she dies for her brother may be the only logical point. I don't understand why they find it so important to save everyone inside Chicago -- when essentially there's no one left in there that they care about. Yes, Christina and Ukiah has family in there, but if they can take people so easily in and out (they took out Ukiah's family), can't they just evacuate those they care about? Tris was put in a situation where she had to die for her brother because her brother tried to save a bunch of people that had no ties to them. Nor do I understand why Tris would think it's okay to do to others what they are trying to prevent. In addition, Tris had just told Tobias to keep a bigger goal in mind when Tobias joined Nita for that little explosion stint. I was expecting her to plan something more grand -- something that would take down the government. But instead, they focus on saving just Chicago -- which really doesn't do anything since there are lots of other experiments elsewhere.

Then the other thing that bothered me about her "death" scene is how Tobias would be so willing to leave her with Caleb. In Insurgent Tris was like a suicidal maniac and he chased after her time after time. Did he just become really dumb (actually it did feel like he became REALLY dumb, but more on that later) or lose sight of who she is -- did he think she was someone who would watch her brother die?

And then here's why I think her death is so unnecessary-- not only are they saving people who they haven't really shown emotions for throughout the books, but her death didn't change anything except in Chicago. On a grand scheme of things, she didn't create equality for the "genetically pure" vs. "genetically deficient" and elsewhere these experiments are still running. I mean, if you're going to make her die, make her die for a grand cause. I'd be more satisfied if she had died for the innocent kids in Insurgent if you were planning to kill her since I think that's more noble.

2) The backstory -- made no sense to me and I'm still trying to wrap my head around it

In addition to the love story, I was really excited to see why these people were held inside the gates. Who could've possibly put them there and for what reason? After reading about Edith Prior's video, I was super stoked to see what the outside world had to offer and expected all sorts of crazy revelations.

And then I learned the video meant nothing. And the outside world? It's fine -- the people were put in Chicago as an experiment to "purify genes". And this is the part that really confuses the hell out of me. If your goal was to create people with good genes (i.e. divergents), why are the scientists letting so many of them die? It seems that if you let Erudite wipe them out, doesn't that interfere with your experiment and make it run endlessly? Or is that the goal -- to have endlessly running experiments (but why?).
And if divergents are actually the pure ones, why are they noted as "dangerous"? In the first book, they kept saying divergents are dangerous and needs to be hunted. Who implanted this thought into their heads? If it was a rumor made up by Erudite, why didn't the scientists do anything? Divergents have been hunted for a long time (at least back to Omar and George), so the government should've had plenty of time to wipe people's memory and reset it.

I was also excited to see how the faction vs. factionless war would play out and how that would tie in with the outside world, but neither of those happened. There was no war between the factions and factionless and the way it ended was just plain LAME. Tobias goes to talk his parents out of the war -- really if it was that easy, how'd we get to this point? And I seriously am still trying to grasp how a war about factions (which I find much more fascinating) turned into a war about pure genes vs. deficient genes.

3) Total character assassination.

By the time Allegiant finished, I'm not even sure who the characters are any more.

In book 1, Tris was a fighter. She was undersized and at times got beat down, but she never gave up. She hid the fact that she was divergent because she fought to live. Then in Insurgent, she became a wild suicidal maniac -- true, she had some issues getting over killing Will, but to me it was like, enough is enough. How many times are you going to try and kill yourself. And then in book 3, she didn't sound like herself. She started to sound like a know it all and became dominating over Tobias. I'm happy to see that in their relation it has evolved from her being the little girl to them being on equal terms, but since when was she always right and since when did Tobias depend on her opinion to make choices? She had humility, understanding, and her connection had felt stronger in the other books. In this one, it feels like the relationship between them centered between either petty arguments or making out.

I think there was no character assassination worse than that for Tobias. In Divergent, he was a super tough guy who was top in his class -- super confident, even turning down offers for leadership. Then in Insurgent, he was manipulated by his mother and depended on Tris for advice but I could still understand, maybe even respect this, since these are two women that have a large influence on his life. But then in Allegiant, it was like he couldn't think for himself, became super insecure, and was an emotional wreck. Since when would Four be bothered by someone telling him his DNA, which really are just a set of lines, is deficient? In his whole life, Marcus had told him he wasn't good enough and yet he excelled in Dauntless. And now someone he doesn't know tells him, hey you don't have these lines in your genes and he's concerned enough to join a random woman to start a revolution? Four was always smart, always on guard -- what happened???? Did he turn into a 16 year old girl?

Then there are the character assassinations of Marcus and Evelyn. How can two people who are supposed to be power hungry shy away that quickly and that fast? Did they see a light and decided the world would be a better place without fighting? Talk about out of character.

4) The writing

The writing in Allegiant was just plan awful because Tobias and Tris sounded like it was the same person. When I was reading it, I kept having to flip back and was like "whose thoughts am I reading". At first I thought this was my problem, but after reading other reviews, others felt the same way. This is actually really funny, because, how could one possibly get Four and Tris confused? They had totally different personalities -- goes to show how bad this book really was. In addition to the confusion, I also did feel like this book was slow. They went over a ton of genetically pure vs. genetically deficient stuff, took trips to the fringe to see poor people, took an airplane ride -- did lots of stuff that didn't seem relevant at all. As I was reading it, my thoughts were, get to the end already. Partly it was to see if Tris was going to die, but also, I felt like I had enough tangents.

5) In Divergent, it made sense for the book to be called that because Tris finds out she's a divergent. A divergent is defined as someone who doesn't fit clearly in a category. In Insurgent, that title also makes sense because Tris rises up against the faction system. In Allegiant, though, that title is barely relevant. The battle of the Allegiant vs. factionless is way out in the background and Tris' tie to the Allegiant isn't really developed. I'm not even sure why the book is called that -- maybe the original intention was for stronger ties.

6) Lastly and this is from my personal point of view -- while it is described as selfless for her to take Caleb's place, I also see it as being selfish. When a person dies, the pain that his/her friends/families/lover suffers is immense. While on the other hand, the person who dies feels nothing and has to deal with nothing. I see death as an easy way out. It takes more courage to fight on -- and given that not all options were exhausted (or even explored), to me Tris gave up. This to me, was the ultimate betrayal in character.

If I could turn back time, I'd stop at book 1 and just imagined them leading a revolution against the Erudites and would've left it at that. But alas, cannot turn back time and those 16 hours are long gone.
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on December 30, 2013
I agree with those who have rated this book a 1! (Worth a read of their reviews as they are dead on.) As a Biology professor, I apologize that Mrs. Roth's teachers didn't correctly teach her about how genetic inheritance, epigenomics, and evolution work. Unfortunately this book will teach young people who read it many misconceptions that instructors like me will have a hard time unteaching. To the author and editors, do your research next time and don't just release a book to make money. The emotional and intellectual damage you inflict is irresponsible!
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on May 14, 2016
Allegiant is the final book in the Divergent trilogy. Tris Prior and her friends must venture beyond the confines of the only life they have ever known to discover the truth about their existence. This journey does not give them the answers they hope to find and the world they discover creates conflict between the group and brings into question everything they have ever believed or held true. Tris must now choose between very different realities and ideologies and her choice will have devastating consequences for those she loves and those she has left behind.

Allegiant is the most disappointing end to a series I have ever read. Compared to the other two books in the series the pace is painfully slow. Roth seems to have run out of steam and there is not as much action as there has been in the series. Roth also seems confused about the message she is trying to convey. At times the book feels like a twisted and misguided religious analogy and at other times it feels a melodramatic judgment of high school. Roth is indecisive about which of the two ideologies she has presented is best and because of this her characters become confused hypocrites who have no idea what they are fighting for and apply rules and logic in a nonsensical manner. There are an unbelievable amount of plot holes and implausible situations that not even die hard fans will forgive.

The book starts off with a quote from the Erudite manifesto about how all questions must be answered but at the end of this book the reader is left with more questions than answers.
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