Review: Allegiant

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)Allegiant by Veronica Roth
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Strangely, I wasn't bothered by the capital E Ending. In fact, I really liked it. What bothered me was pretty much everything else.

Let me start out by saying that I loved Divergent. It was one of the better YA dystopian novels, and what I respected the author for in that book remains true for this one - bad things happen to the main characters. There is no almost-but-not-quite-in-harm's-way business here - people take a beating physically and emotionally, and you really can't say that a character is going to magically get through something just because they are an important/main character. No one is safe, and I really liked that since it seems like a lot of YA books tend to pull out all the stops to magically keep characters from ever actually getting hurt or dying in situations where they should (Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series being a prime example). This is one of the reasons I really liked the ending that has driven a lot of people to chucking the book at the nearest wall. In case you tend to get very fond of your fictional friends, I repeat, no one is safe.

Then why only two stars? Well, there were a lot of things about this book that drove me nuts. For one thing, I'm a bioengineer, and if a books is going to make a big deal about a scientific explanation for something, then it had better be good. Or at least kind of plausible. The science behind the world of Divergent is very flimsy, which wouldn't be so bad if so much of the book wasn't devoted to discussing this scientific explanation and dissecting it and fighting for or against it. There's a huge rant under the spoiler, so brace yourself:
Apparently the city of Chicago is just one of many "holding pens" full of genetically damaged people. "Genetic damage" in this world means that you are genetically prone to having undesirable characteristics such as proclivity to violence.

First of all, how the hell do you expect me to believe our genes determine our character traits? Psychosis or sociopathy, fine, but being selfish or less intelligent than average or more easily angered?

Second of all, how did the entire nation (world?) buy into this idea of genetic "damage"? There weren't any groups standing up for themselves or their friends who were deemed unworthy? Eugenics during World War II anyone??

And even if the whole world just lacked brains and nodded its head to whatever propaganda the government fed them, how did the government manage to hide things like the holocaust and war and racism and rape and all the other terrible things we "genetically pure" people have done to one another?

Nope, I'm not buying it.

I haven't even begun to talk about the actual story yet...oh boy. This review is getting a lot longer than I anticipated (much like my review of Insurgent - another disappointment). This book is a departure from the previous two in many ways. For one, it's narrated by both Tobias and Tris instead of just the latter. I have heard people complaining that they couldn't distinguish the voices, but I was listening to the audiobook so that's one less complaint from my end. But I do have something to say about this gimmick, and it might spoil things for you, but not directly. Proceed at your own risk:
in The Hunger Games, you know Katniss isn't going to die because she is the narrator. You can't tell a story with only one narrator if the narrator dies. On the other hand, when you have a series like Game of Thrones, you can kill off your narrators because another POV can take its place. Now I wonder why Roth decided to bring Tobias in as a second narrator...

Back to Tobias and Tris. They have had a tough time, I'll give them that. They have been betrayed and abandoned and lied to by others and each other. But they stick together and try and make their relationship work. I respect their trying to find comfort in each other, but I am beyond annoyed with how possessive and needy they both are. They both want the other to be accepting of their more difficult decisions while breathing down the other's neck about their tough choices. They both have trust issues but insist that there is no problem at all and clearly they are going to live happily ever after. It just got incredibly annoying to listen to their whining and "I told you so"s.

This book is also a departure from the previous two in that it doesn't take place in Chicago. The majority of it is spent in a facility outside, and while this facility has some interesting new characters and ideas to bring to the table, it was mostly very dull. I felt like this book was very disjoint from the previous two, and could not bring myself to really care about any of these characters anymore - they have changed so much and are in such drastically different scenarios now that it's almost like reading a new series.

I did like the secondary characters. Many of them have grown throughout the series, and some of them make unexpected choices in this book. I liked how most of them stuck together and stayed true to their personalities and their beliefs instead of dissolving into angst like our two main characters did.

This book has been a disappointment, to put it mildly. I definitely continue to respect Roth for making decisions that stayed true to her story instead of one that pleases readers - I am very happy about that. But I generally did not enjoy reading this book, and I didn't think it was the best conclusion to a series that had so much potential.

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  1. I think I'm one of the only people who really loved Allegiant - not quite as much as Divergent, but I still loved it. I don' think the genetics idea is a far-fetched as you think - the whole nature vs. nurture debate is still going strong. And, even in the book, nurture definitely has something to do with it - that's why their society with its structured groups was supposedly so much more successful. But, I know that lots of people weren't thrilled with this book, so you are definitely not alone!! :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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