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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 23, 2013

Allegiant is proving to be quite the controversy, though perhaps not for the reasons it should. The series was never going to be fine literature, though I was definitely entertained and devoured the first two books; they were escapist and overall a good read. After reading Insurgent I found out that Veronica Roth is quite vocal about her Christian background, which set up certain expectations for the climax of the final book (in more ways that one, you might say). However, I didn't find her tone at all preachy or heavy-handed in the first two novels - that changes a bit here. This final book has definite changed how I'm going to view the movies as they come out, and will make it hard to read the first two books again.

I had absolutely no ideas about what might happen in Allegiant, so I was excited to find out how the series would conclude. However, I think there were missteps - some apparent right from the beginning. From a narrative standpoint, my biggest qualm was the shift in perspective; while I didn't mind seeing things through Four's eyes, he is not the person who led me into this world, and is not the most reliable or interesting narrator. There was also hardly any narrative between Tris and Four - often I read a few pages into a chapter before realizing I was picturing the wrong person. Switching back and forth every other chapter is a bit hacky - check out how George RR Martin does it to get an idea of how multiple perspective is used skillfully. I see now why Roth decided to do this, but I think she could have cut of Tris's voice and ended with Four's and we still would have had the same journey.

The actual storyline also frustrated me a bit; I was rather disappointed to find out what was outside the city because it took some of the magic away. Everything slows around the middle of the book, and I found myself wondering how it could possibly be wrapped up in a cohesive way (which, in truth, it doesn't quite do). Most of the book is far away from the world that was created in the first two books, which is a risky choice. I definitely saw more of Roth's religious background in this book as well (quite obviously in Tris' questioning of God and the destruction of her reality).

Which leads me to the end - the focal point for 99% of the reviews up so far. From a purely literary standpoint, I don't have a problem with the main character dying. We readers are so used to happy endings that we forget how often a narrative can't logically conclude with the heroine dancing into the sunset, but I really don't think this is why Tris died. I thin Roth made a calculated choice that was consistent with her views, but not with the text, or rather, what we all bought into in the text. Tris' death was very symbolic (the Christ imagery is a little overdone here) but unsatisfying. I kept expecting her to pop out in the last few chapters - a sign that the death was not fully resolved. Make no mistake, the heart of the series went with Tris, which is why so many people are finding it hard to take, I think.

You definitely need to suspend reality to believe the ending has any sort of permanence, that Tris died to save something real - lose that and the ending stings that much more. I don't think the book deserves a 1 star rating, but I, for one, can't get fully behind a series that ends on a bum note. In Game of Thrones, it's tragic when a character meets their grisly end, but there are other full-formed characters who can carry the book. The biggest problem here is that Four is not fully-developed; we see him from Tris' eyes, and when we lose that it all feels a little hollow. I also just didn't expect the book to take the turn it did when it pulled the rug out from the first two books, and I'm not sure I liked it - we've seen the genetics allegory before, and done better.

To sum up: There isn't enough narrative weight in Allegiant to support the bold moves that Roth makes. The storyline is a bit lacking compared to the first two novels, and at the end of the day, the ideas expressed here feel out of place - these readers (myself included) just wanted to happy ending! But hey, it didn't offend me and it got me thinking, so maybe that alone makes it a little successful.
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on December 23, 2013
Let me start off by saying that I enjoyed the first two books, but this one seems completely out of place. The plot-- omg, the plot... was most of that even relevant? And a lot of the storyline had so many holes that it just couldn't stand up on its own. She made Stephanie Meyer's idea of making a teenage werewolf fall in love with a talking baby sound more sensible than half this book. Don't bother unless you like confusing and disappointment because that's all you'll get. It's best to stop at book #2 and dream up your own ending.

Let's look at how this book fails: structure, plot, and the ending.

The first two books were good, but this last book became progressively lost as Roth grasps for a cohesive story. We can ignore the many grammatical errors and simply focus on the structure of this final book. It lacks the fluidity of the first two novels and shifts from one characters perspective to the other so frequently that it's difficult to remember who is narrating. Especially since she doesn't give Tobias his true voice. He and Tris sound like some person-- neither carries an individual tone as the narrator. And I LOVED Tobias-- he was a great character until he became some weird, wimpy teenager in this book and both characters became almost annoying. And the dual narration serves no point, except for the ending. You learn nothing new about anything by having both characters as narrators. They are in the same setting most of the time and have the same friends and both of them pretty much do the same thing - be sneaky, make plots, makeout and get into trouble. I found myself constantly flipping to the first page of each chapter to figure out who was talking.

She doesn't even stay true to the characters she built in the other two novels-- making them do things which are out of their nature. It drove me INSANE. Did anyone ever think Tobias (the careful planner who was always skeptical) would just join up with some group for the hell of it to take down a government without knowing details or asking questions? No. How about Tris's willingness to sacrifice her brother? She's suddenly now okay with guns because they are lighter and feel different than the other guns the Fractions used? Hmph.

And how about the ENTIRE group losing all common sense:

A) Who was dumb enough to think she would let her brother die voluntarily? Apparently everyone else in the story so they let her escort him to his death mission alone. Yeah. That's smart.
B) Everyone saying it's okay to send a kid with ZERO military experience to go on a solo mission to blow up stuff and possible get into a gun fight when everything depended on his success? Seriously? These people are supposed to be "military experts" and they pick him for this super critical mission. That's believable.
C) Christina says she has to pee and jumps out the truck, then slashes BOTH back tires so they can do some sneaky side mission. OMG! Flat tires! Tobias tells the driver they are both flat and he's like "oh, that sucks, but that's totally plausible. Let's just split up on foot." Uh, anyone would wonder why both tires were flat-- I think he'd go look and notice the slashes. Dumb. Just dumb.

This novel drags more than the others and loses its appeal as we learn more about the true secrets of the fractions and how ridiculous it is. The plot become slow and tedious to read. It seems like much of the plot wasn't completely thought out by the author--- why didn't the people living in the Fractions ever notice the planes flying above them? When they inserted Tris's mom into the experiment, they said they only reset a few people. They would need to have reset A LOT of people and being reset is supposed to change their personality-- wouldn't that be noticed by friends in the Fractions. Nothing made sense. And why didn't they try to come up with a better idea than a suicide mission? Seriously, they had other options. I could see other options and I'm just a reader. The only thing consistent is the failure after failure after failure in the plot line.

And really, how many times can Tris and Tobias get shot? I actually began to roll my eyes at their many, many flesh wounds while everyone else keeps dying in various ways and many without reason. Although, I don't even understand why Uriah or Tori had to die. It was pointless and just caused more useless conflict between Tris and Tobias that annoyed the *bleep* out of me and continued to make both the main characters act outside of their normal behavior. Half way through this book I wanted to stop reading it. I wish I did.

Oh, and then end is horrible. No, beyond horrible. Deplorable. The worst ending of any book and it's not because I don't like what happened-- sometimes endings should be sad. It's because of how she wrote it. You don't do what she did without making a major point and showing that there was no other way. But there were other ways. There were other options. Her ending was useless and pointless and a disrespect to the other two books and the characters.


So we expect that Tris is somehow super human and immune to the death serum which she is (shocker), but you don't expect the dude in the wheelchair with two bum legs to kill her. Yeah, the gimp kills the girl who always beats the crap out of everyone else. Why can't she figure out a way to get the gun from him and THEN go push some buttons? He's in a wheelchair. Come on! He didn't deserve to kill her.

Was her death necessary to the story? No. Does it make the story better? No. Did it serve a purpose? No.

So why'd she die? Maybe to make the story memorable? Well, then Roth succeeded in making this the book that I'll remember as being one of the worst book I've read. Good job. I applaud you.

AND since Tris's death was to save the city she loves by reprograming the government-- would it work in the long term? Sure it might have stopped the attack within 48 hours, but what about in a week? A month? What about all the other compounds and leaders who they interact with? They will notice the newly reset government and their sudden lack of knowledge about divergents and the defective genes. Wouldn't you think that they'd notice something was off and then shut down the program anyways? Just reset that entire compound including all of Tris's friends or kill them as traitors?

What about those horrible soldiers that terrorized the people in the ghetto? Did her death stop them? No. They had no affiliation with their compound so obviously there are more government programs close by. Don't you think they'll notice when one compound starts behaving differently than every other person in the region and in the world? So her death would have been in vain anyways if the book was to make any logical sense.

To be honest, I didn't read the last 10 pages or so after Tris was confirmed dead. Maybe those last 10 pages were really, really good. I don't think so.

What did her death do? Spare her traitor brother (giving him salvation and probably survivor's guilt) and devastate her friends and lover. Did it serve a purpose that could not have been accomplished by another means? No.

Who does that?! Who kills a main character for no good reason?!

Roth just pissed me off and made me regret reading the entire series. I wish I could erase this book from my brain.
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on November 1, 2013
I pre-ordered Allegiant after reading the first 2 books in the trilogy. I finished it last night, and I have to say I am disappointed.

First off, I don't like the two voices switching off. I think that was confusing, and the two didn't really seem all that different. Sometimes I had to look back to see who was the narrator of that chapter.

Secondly, I found the whole GP, GD thing confusing and not fleshed out completely. Were the GP people who never underwent genetic "fixing"? Did generations of GD reproducing produce GP? Is GP what Divergent people are? And the Purity War - did the GP start it, and win it, and destroy all media/books/files about history so that no one know there were wars before that one? Huh? That just doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I was looking forward to finding out WHY Chicago was destroyed and cut off, and WHY these people separated into factions. This just didn't do it for me - it seemed like a rushed answer.

Third - I know it's a young adult book, but come on - they escape the city and live, for a time, in relative peace in the government compound - in a DORMITORY?? In an old airport Hilton with tons of guest rooms that I assume all have beds - we put these young adults in a dormitory? Enough with the kissing and touching - let them find a bed and DO IT!

And lastly, the ending. I didn't like the ending. But, I didn't hate it either. I read a review here by Stephanie, and she wrote an alternate ending that I really like. I'm going to pretend that's the way the book really ended.

I guess I just had higher expectations for this book that weren't met.
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on March 1, 2014
While I enjoyed the world Ms. Roth created in Divergent and Insurgent, Allegiant was a real disappointment. The concept of Tris' death was not a "shock" - she was raised in Abnegation - but a good story would have given her death a believable framework and used it to shape a strong ending that resonates with readers. Ms. Roth did neither of these things. Futhermore, she seemed to have forgotten that Tris and Tobias are two very different people - she writes their POV in the same voice -- this lazy execution destroys both characters.
The scientific rationale used to explain the existence of this society is laughable -- really, a prerequisite for using genetics as plot device should be a rudimentary understanding of how the ideas in the author's mind would ACTUALLY HAPPEN. Choosing to add a science fiction angle should mean the author bothers to find out how the science actually works! Ms. Roth clearly did not respect her readers' intelligence enough to do so. A strong editor (or a college professor with honest comments and a red pen!) would have been a blessing here - ending this promising trilogy with such a poorly written, unevenly paced, shoddily plotted volume is a shame.
The message for Ms. Roth -- if you have only enough material for two good books, stop there. Don't release a vastly inferior conclusion for a paycheck or to meet a deadline -- take your time, get the sources and help you need to create a quality final installment, for that is how you will be remembered. YA is an oft-maligned genre, which is a shame, as I have enjoyed many well-written YA books. Allegiant is not one of them.
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on February 23, 2016
Disappointing. The story collapses into a view of the whole world through the eyes of a girl whose biggest priority is whether or not some boy kisses her or not. I enjoyed Divergent. Started saying, "WTF" in Insurgent. Allegiant went off the rails and made little sense. Painfully tedious to read.

That said, I liked "the experiment" story arc, but it was so poorly developed and badly plotted out, it made me sad at all the lost possibilities. Also killing off so many characters for no apparent purpose and the alternating perspectives between Tris and Tobias, just left me with the question, WHY?"
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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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on December 30, 2013
***This review contains Spoilers***

This is the most disappointing ending to a book I have ever read. I am all for heroic sacrifices - but only when they make sense, not when there are a hundred other options and I am left wondering why the main character chose the aboslute dumbest one. I could write a long and scathing review about so many things that don't make sense in the third book (the most obvious, Tobias not knowing that Tris would sacrifice herself to save Caleb, I knew she would do that from the moment he was voluntold to die for a stuipd cause) but I just want to keep it simple and focus on Tris' ending.

What bothered me the most was that Tris is / was supposed to be an intelligent character, she even put together how the entire attack against Abnegation was going to happen when Tobias just brushed the part of her neck that was injected with the serum in the first book. How does the author expect me to believe that Tris could not find another alternative to a suicide mission? If it bothered her that Caleb was giving his life for... not really sure for what actually, wouldn't it have made more sense to use the memory reset serum that Tobias took to his mother on David and made up some story about him needing to get into Weapons lab with her? Or just letting him reset everyone's memories and take more time with a better thought out mission? Because sacrificing your life for a bunch of people who will not die and only have a lapse in memory is not worth dying for - I'm not exactly sure what her sacrifice was for anyway. Her explanation in the lab does not make sense either. Her parents sacrificed their lives so that she and others would live because they were in the middle of being attacked. No one was being attacked here and no lives were hanging in the balance of a split second decision. The author didn't do us any favors either with Tobias just asking his mother to stop the war and her simply agreeing to it. What the HECK was that? (maybe she was over the book at this point) Again, Tris pointlessly sacrificed her life when all they had to do was talk to David about trying to fix things themselves before resetting everyone's memory. It would not have been a difficult conversation considering David would do about anything so his experiment would not be shut down.

I would have been completely fine with Tris sacrificing her life in the urgency of the moment, to save Tobias, her brother, or the entire society living within the 'experiment', but this was complete bull. She had PLENTY of time to get into the Weapons lab about a thousand other ways than how the author chose to have her do it. I have been upset about Tris' death not because it was noble or needed, but because it was stupid and useless. She died for nothing and left poor Tobias to live out the rest of his life without her. She didn't even want to stay for him in the end, she preferred to "go" with her mom instead of fighting to stay alive for him. If you are going to kill off a main character, make the death worth it, I grieve more for Tobais and the fact that him Tris left him than Tris herself. Especially after the author completely changes his personality in the third book and makes him such a weak person. What happened to big, strong and intelligent Tobias? Maybe the serum he was injected with made him hormonal, I don't know.
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on October 29, 2013
It is difficult to know where to start. I was really looking forward to this book, and it was an enormous bummer.
There were so many " how the heck did we get here" moments. The story lurches from one event to the next. I Kept feeling like I had missed some huge important part of the story. Tobias/Four seemed to have some sort of major personality meltdown. He was an entirely different character. I expected that there would be some maturation of Tobias and Tris in this third book, but they seemed to have regressed instead. Their relationships to the new characters had no forethought, no logic.
The alternating point of view between Tris and Tobias was confusing. They had the same voice. I kept having to stop and try to remember who was talking. After a while I gave up trying.
As for the ending... Yes, it was unexpected, and heartbreaking,. Beyond that, it did not make any sense to the plot of the entire series. The way Tobias' emotional reaction was handled through all those sort little chapters was...well... stupid (I really tried to find a different word.) Those were not chapters. Did Veronica Roth have a chapter quota to meet?
I can picture this story being rewritten into two separate volumes with the missing plot and character development fleshed out properly. I would not read them though unless the ending was changed to fit the plot progression from the previous books, and to show maturation of the characters.
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