The Story: Allegiant, the final novel in the dystopian Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, picks up right after the conclusion of Insurgent when Tris and her band of Dauntless survivors have learned some very grave truths about the world they live in. This leads Tris and Tobias on a search to uncover what lies beyond the city wall and, thus, what is inherently wrong with their society and if there is any chance for it to be restored to a sense of normalcy. Not to mention that as old wounds heal and new loves are explored, another enemy threatens to tear everything apart.
My Take: I have finally come to the last novel in the Divergent trilogy, which, for me, has gone from fairly entertaining (Divergent), to ho-hum (Insurgent), to outright dull (Allegiant) as this installment was easily the weakest of the three books. And not for the reason you might initially think provided you’ve read the book.
In brief, everything that seemed dry and repetitive in Insurgent gets even drier and more repetitive here. I sped-read through 70% of this novel just to get to the end, which is never a good sign, especially considering the fact that this was my first time reading Allegiant as I had read the past two books twice before. When I find myself speed-reading a brand new, previously unread book, it’s a sign that either (a). things have gotten repetitive or (b). things are at a stand-still. In this case, Allegiant is a good deal of Choice A with a little bit of Choice B mixed in. I felt there was nothing here to mentally savor or hold onto that wasn’t already tackled in some form in the previous novels (Insurgent in particular), from war games to uneasy alliances to mushy flirting between Tris and Tobias. In the end, I wanted to finish the novel just to say I had read it and wrap up the trilogy. Though it’s worth noting that there was nothing here to keep me from trying to read Allegiant again.
I also wasn’t keen with the split narrative in this novel where the chapters alternate between being related by either Tris or Tobias. The other two books were told exclusively from Tris’ point of view, so why change it now? I didn’t feel that Tobias’ portions added anything new or provided us with fresh or particularly unique insights, so it felt to me like this novel was trying to copy the split narrative technique from Breaking Dawn, the final novel in the Twilight saga. The only difference is that in Breaking Dawn, at least I could tell the difference between Bella’s and Jacob’s respective narrative voices. If I blindly turned to a spot in that book, I could tell who was speaking without being told ahead of time as Bella’s narration is as bland as she is and Jacob’s narrative voice is uniquely blunt and rough around the edges.
Not so between Tris and Tobias’ narrative voices. To me, they sounded alike and the only way I could tell them apart was either the change of venue (i.e. Tris was somewhere Tobias wasn’t or vice versa) or use of personal pronouns (Tris often refers to Tobias as “he” and “him,” and Tobias often refers to Tris as “she” and “her”). Otherwise, there are no distinguishing characteristics to set either of their narratives apart.
But the most pressing issue for me was with Allegiant‘s “big” revelation about the existence of and reason for the Factions. While it’s nice to have some sense of closure regarding the world-building’s chief component, it’s a bit convoluted to say the least and the liberties it takes with genetics would probably make a geneticist’s eyebrows curl. Once more, this is fiction, so it’s okay to bend the rules at times. But this does toe the line to breaching the suspension of disbelief in the scientific department. While I understand that the novel probably didn’t want to get bogged down with genetic exposition, I think it might have been necessary as the explanation we get comes across as a slight case of hand-waving (i.e. an attempt to quickly explain a difficult concept in a neat and concise manner that avoids going into detail about the issue, solution, etc.).
This really knocked the wind out of my proverbial sails as, all this time, I assumed that Divergence meant you were marked as unique when, in reality, it just comes down to science. Granted, I appreciate the novel’s message that a person’s family and/or genes don’t define who they are. But still, learning the “secret” behind what being Divergent meant made me feel like it was set up as something grandiose only for some invented genetic science to pop the awesomeness balloon. There was a certain mystique constructed around the Divergents, but all of this was swiftly swept away when we learn what being Divergent “really” means. While I don’t think it’s a grossly negligent or completely dismissive answer, it just felt anticlimactic and fell a bit flat for me.
Oddly enough, I didn’t dislike the ending, which I sense is why most readers don’t view this final novel in a favorable light. (And, of course, I can’t discuss the ending because it contains a massive spoiler.) I actually felt the conclusion was very fitting for the character involved and showed an admirably valiant, selfless side to this individual. While normally I’m not fond of these types of endings, this one didn’t bother me as it seemed like perhaps it was the only way this particular character’s story arc could be effectively wrapped up. The character’s send-off was fitting, too, so this was one of few things Allegiant got right for me. But, sadly, it was one right element too few.
Language – This novel contains some harsher language (chiefly towards the end with usage of the sh-word) than what was seen in previous books but still nothing pervasive.
Violence -The violence level and its nature is about the same as it was in the previous novels as characters on both sides lose their lives or suffer injuries of varying degrees. The memories of such do stay with characters at times, which affects them emotionally, too. Serums also play a role here and serve to inflict various emotional or physical effects upon the characters who use them, including death, but this avoids any graphic territory.
Sexual Content -The mushy flirting and chemistry between Tris and Tobias that I found annoying in Insurgent resurfaces here but, once more, nothing crosses the line of good taste (that I can remember as I did speed read large portions of this novel).
Overall, to be candid, the Divergent trilogy isn’t a series I will revisit often. While there are aspects of it that I honestly enjoy, there are other elements that fall a little flat, chiefly in relation to repeated plot devices and some shaky world-building. I sense these books will appeal most to its target teen audience thanks to its focus on its young cast though adult readers might wish to peruse them as breezy reads.
As a side note, I do think Roth deserves major kudos for tackling a big writing project like this as a first-time author.
Not many folks would have the guts or the persistence to stick with it. So for that, she deserves some serious praise. I’d certainly consider checking out anything further she pens though perhaps as long as it’s a break from the Divergent story world just for a change of pace.