Allegiant (Divergent Trilogy #3) Review

 

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Book: Allegiant (Divergent Trilogy #3)

Author: Veronica Roth

I’m not really sure where to start with this review. I put off reading this book for so long because I found out the ending and now that I have read it, I’m not really sure entirely what I want to say. I’ve seen such strong opinions about this final book, mostly of the negative variety, but I can’t say I have a strong opinion either way. It left me feeling kind of….well the only word I can think of to describe it is ‘meh’. Maybe if I hadn’t known the ending before, I would have had a stronger opinion on it, but it’s not just the ending that made me feel like that, the whole book was kind of ‘meh’. Series finales should go out with a bang and I felt that this one kind of fizzled. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered – fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningliess. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend to complexities of human nature – and of herself – while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, ALLEGIANT, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the DIVERGENT series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in DIVERGENT and INSURGENT.

I got through this one much quicker than I was expecting to, it only took me a couple of weeks, which seems like a lot, but actually given the speed at which I’ve been reading recently, was quite quick for me. It wasn’t that I loved it so much that I read it quickly though (I wish it was believe me!), it was more that I had a few long days in the car coming back from holiday in France!

I don’t usually start reviews by talking about the ending of a book, but with this book, the ending is so polarizing, I feel like I kind of have to address my thoughts on it right away. I had already seen spoilers about the ending before reading (which was one of the reasons why it took me so long to read the book in the first place) and I kind of wonder if that has affected my opinion about the ending, since obviously, I was nowhere near as angry about it as everyone else seems to be. I wasn’t angry so much at the ending Veronica Roth chose because I actually felt like the ending made sense, it was just the way she did it, it felt really anti-climactic. I kind of felt like Tris deserved…..I don’t know more? It’s hard to talk about it without giving too much away, I don’t want to spoil anyone in the way that I was spoiled. All I’m going to say is that the ending was in keeping with Tris’s character and I actually don’t see how else the book could have ended, I just think Veronica Roth could have made it a little more dramatic than she did. I wanted to feel more about this ending and I just didn’t. I also kind of felt like you could see the ending coming…..I don’t know if I’m saying this just because I knew the ending before reading the book, but I felt like there were little hints through the book that suggested how it was going to end (plus even just the fact that this book is from a dual perspective kind of hints as to how the book is going to end). I reckon if I had been more attached to Tris in the first place, the ending would have had more of an impact, but since I never really clicked with her character, it just didn’t pack much of a punch.

I wasn’t overly keen on the dual perspective of the book. I don’t really understand why Veronica Roth suddenly decided to change the perspective in the last book, but I didn’t like it. Usually I like multiple perspectives in books, because I feel like you get to know the characters better, you get a sense of each character’s distinctive voice and you get to see the story from different perspectives, but I didn’t like it here. I felt like there wasn’t enough difference between Tris and Tobias’ voices and if I hadn’t looked at the chapter headings, I wouldn’t have known who was narrating which chapter and I did find myself getting confused as to who was narrating at points. I also found the constant switching kind of jarring to start off with and although I got used to it and could see why she did it by the end, I think it could have been executed better.

In my review for Insurgent, I said that I found Tris annoying through most of the book and in this book the tables turned and it was Tobias who I found irritating. He was so whiny and insecure and sad and whilst I get why being referred to as “damaged” given his family history really hit him hard, I just could not stand him for most of the book. I much preferred the Dauntless “Four” than the whiny Tobias. Also I didn’t feel like I entirely bought into Tris and Tobias’ romance this book. They argued all the time and it was just exhausting and then when they did have sweet moments, it didn’t feel like those moments were earned. They kept fighting and making up and it never really felt like any of their issues were really resolved, they were just glossed over.

I wasn’t entirely convinced with the reasons for the setting up of the factions. The whole Divergents being “genetically pure” and everyone else being “genetically damaged” and the city being an experiment thing kind of came out of left field. I also didn’t feel like it was a very original concept, the whole having two groups and the Genetically Pure discriminating against the Genetically Damaged, haven’t we been there done that? I just think she could have come up with a much better explanation for the world being the way it was. Also I wish she hadn’t left it until the last book to explain how the city came about, because it meant that entire chapters of this book were basically massive info-dumps explaining the set-up of her dystopian Chicago and that could have been avoided if she hadn’t left it all to the last book.

I felt like the plot of the book was kind of slow. Not much really happened until the last 200 pages or so, it was a lot of build-up I felt, for not much reward. There was far more action in Divergent and Insurgent, this book was much quieter, more explanations than action and at points I felt kind of bored. I had the same problem with the last Hunger Games, that it was a little boring, but at least with The Hunger Games, the payoff was better.I think the page count could definitely have done with some trimming, it didn’t feel like the over 500 pages of book was completely necessary. The plot also didn’t really have any connection with the first two books, it felt like a completely separate book rather than the conclusion to a trilogy.

One of the things that I did like about the book was Veronica Roth’s writing style. I’m not going to say that she’s the most amazing writer ever, but she writes in a way that’s easily accessible and there were some really lovely, beautiful, insightful quotes in this book, that made me like it more than I otherwise might have, so whilst I can fault the plot and character development of this book, I can’t say there was anything I could particularly fault with the writing.

I felt like the whole faction/factionless thing sort of fell by the wayside. There was this big buildup at the end of the last book and then at the beginning of this one, of the tensions between the people who wanted factions and the factionless and then it was just magically resolved at the end of the book and it felt like….no things could not have been that easy. I liked the fact that Tobias and his mother made up, but it didn’t feel earned at all. Also from the end of Insurgent, I was expecting the world outside the fence to be…..I don’t know, more? I think what happened here was that Veronica Roth tried to cram too much into one book, and if this was her end plan, she should have either put more build-up into the earlier books or split the last book into two so that there wasn’t so much new stuff being introduced in the last book. I also kind of felt like the ending chapters could have been cut or at least trimmed a little, because by the time I got to the epilogue, I was kind of past the point of caring. I don’t see what the point of having the big ending was, when story carried on for several chapters afterward, it was yet another thing that took away from the dramatic impact that the ending should have had. I reckon a short epilogue after what happened to Tris would have been perfectly adequate, rather than several chapters and then a long epilogue.

I also don’t really get how Tris could have been resistant to all those serums, whilst the science behind the whole genetically pure/gentically damaged thing made some sense, it was never explained how Tris was able to resist all the serums where other Divergents couldn’t.

I really liked the sweet friendship moments with Cara and Tobias,  I wasn’t a friendship I was expecting to see in this book, but I really liked it. In fact I liked all of the little sweet moments in this book, whether it be between Cara and Tobias, Christina and Tobias, Christina and Tris, Tris and Tobias etc because moments like that were a bit of relief from the overall more serious tone of this book.

I felt like there were so many new characters and ideas introduced, that character development of the existing characters, aside from Tobias and Tris, kind of stagnated. Caleb for instance, didn’t really show any remorse for what he did in Insurgent and I felt there could have been room to explore that more, but instead, Tris spends the entire book mad at him and they never really talk through their issues until right at the end and even then their reconciliation didn’t feel earned. I feel like a lot more time could have been spent with that thread, which had already been introduced, rather than throwing all of this new stuff in at the last minute. Christina didn’t really do much in the book, aside from being there for Four at the end, neither did Cara, neither did Peter, basically all of the secondary characters were kind of just there with not much development at all.

Overall I think my feelings towards this book can basically be summarized with the word “meh”. The first half was boring, with a lot of info dumping, the second half was more exciting and whilst I felt that the ending made sense, the conclusion overall didn’t feel deserved, it felt like everything was resolved far too easily and far too much was stuffed into this book, where it should have either been built into the previous books or the story should have been extended into another book and this was to the detriment of the world and the characters I felt. Sure there were good parts of the book, but for the most part it was just yet another series finale disappointment.

My Rating: 3/5

The next book I will be reviewing is Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine, the first book in her Great Library series. I’ve never read anything by her before, but I really loved the sound of this book, so I seriously hope it’s as good as I think it’s going to be!

 

 

Insurgent (Divergent Trilogy) review

Book: Insurgent (Divergent Trilogy Book 2)

Author: Veronica Roth

I was a little apprehensive before reading this book because I had been told that it was not as good as the first one but I actually found it better-I feel like after this book, I understand the dystopian world of Divergent better and it didn’t fall into the usual pitfalls of a second book in a trilogy by becoming too slow, as the action often slows down in the second book to build up to the climax in the third. The second book does jump in straight where the end of Divergent left off, so it is probably more easily enjoyed if you have read the first book recently (since I read Divergent in April, the story was more fresh in my mind than it otherwise might have been). Here is a short synopsis of the story:

I have done bad things. I can’t take them back, and they are part of who I am.

Tris has survived a brutal attack on her former home and family. But she has paid a terrible price. Wracked by grief and guilt, she becomes ever more reckless as she struggles to accept her new future.

Yet if Tris wants to uncover the truth about her world, she must be stronger than ever… because more shocking choices and sacrifices lie ahead.

In my review of Divergent, one of the things I said I wanted for the sequel was to be able to see more of Candor and Amity and thankfully this did happen in Insurgent, we got to see both Candor and Amity which I think helped me understand all the different parts of the faction system better which I liked. We also got to see more of the factionless and how they fit into the world which I thought was good because now I have a better sense of how their world works, and how everything fits together. One of the main parts of this book which you learn quite early on is that Marcus is keeping a secret that will affect the entirety of the world and it makes the Divergent Trilogy different to the same old dystopian formula of a female heroine rebelling against the corrupt government and actually helps you to understand why the factions were put in place which was another thing I said I’d like to see in this book in my review of Divergent.

I found Tris kind of annoying for most of the book-I thought her grief of losing her parents and killing Will was portrayed realistically but I didn’t really like who she became-she’s impulsive and rash and doesn’t seem to think things through, essentially she’s attempting to be killed. I thought this was believable since she had lost one of her closest friends and both of her parents but I just didn’t like it very much. I far preferred it when she was back to being her old self again because that is the Tris we have come to know and love.

I also liked that we found out more about Tobias (Four) in this book which was another of the things I was hoping for. We meet his mother and find out about his relationship with her and his relationship with his father continues to develop and I feel like I understand him more after this book than I did after the first book which was great. I liked the way Tris and Tobias’s relationship was developed in this book, because even though this is a dystopian world they are still like a normal couple who do fight but ultimately understand and love each other which was great. I love the way Veronica Roth manages to integrate their relationship into the plot rather than having their relationship overshadow the plot and that there are no sex scenes with them, it’s just nice sweet moments.

There was far more action in the plot of this book as in Divergent it seemed that the exciting stuff all happened at the end, but there was plenty of action throughout this book which I liked. I did feel like I saw some of the twists coming, especially with what happened with the factionless, I worked out what was going to happen with them pretty quickly but this didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book in any way and there were other twists that totally blindsided me (for instance the person who betrays Tris and I won’t say who but it is really shocking). The first part of the book was a little slow but that was okay because I felt like I needed to slowly be brought back into the world before being thrown into the action and it allowed us to learn more about Amity, a faction that was mentioned in Divergent but we didn’t really know much about. One of the best things about the book once it gets going is that although it is fast paced, it never feels rushed which I loved.

In this book the role of the divergents becomes even more important and I felt we got to understand better why there are divergents and the true meaning of what it is to be Divergent which I thought was good.

I also liked the development of the relationship between Marcus and Tris, I mean she obviously hates him for what he did to Tobias but I felt I gained respect for her when she sided with Marcus to reveal the secret Abnegation had died for trying to reveal because she knew it was the right thing to do rather than just go against it because she hates him or side with the Dauntless just because she wants to take down Jeanine.

Jeanine as a villain is incredible, because you hate her and admire her at the same time, because she is so clever and I find myself constantly intrigued by her and yet I hated her for what she was doing to Tris. I thought her lab security was so cool!

I do feel like Veronica Roth is a little trigger happy, she kills off a lot of characters just when you are starting to like them and feel like you are getting to know them. I wish she would stop doing that, it’s unnecessary. I know it’s a war and people are of course going to die but she just seemed to go a little overboard for my taste.

We got to see a little more of Tris’ divergence in this book and whilst we had seen her aptitude for Dauntless and Abnegation featured heavily in Divergent, her aptitude for Erudite was not explored as much. However it was in this book which I quite liked and in the scenes with Jeanine and Tris, I found it kind of spooky how alike they were, and how Tris’ aptitude for Erudite allowed her to work out what Jeanine would do, and it was nice because we got to see another side of Tris.

Overall I felt this book was very strong, the characters and their relationships are developed well, not only Tris and Tobias but also her relationship with other characters (eg I thought the development of her friendship with Christina after Christina learns she shot Will was very good), new interesting characters are introduced that I want to learn more about (examples being Johanna Reyes, leader of Amity and Tobias’ mother Evelyn) and the Divergent world is explored more which I loved. The end was a real cliffhanger which I think sets up for the third book quite well and I can’t wait to read the third book now. I can only hope it is half as good as this one was.

My Rating: 4/5

The next book I will be reviewing is Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Divergent (Divergent trilogy book 1) Review

Book: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

This book is another book that has been hyped up a lot this year, with the release of the Divergent film and usually I am wary of books that have received a lot of hype as I find they disappoint me (The Fault In Our Stars which I reviewed earlier this month is a prime example of this). It’s another futuristic novel set in dystopian Chicago (as you can probably tell by now, I’m a big fan of dystopian fiction) and I found that this novel actually was as good as I was told it was. It follows a female heroine (as most of these dystopian books seem to do-I have only read a few that follow either a male hero or have multiple lead characters of different genders) Beatrice Prior who is 16 years old. She lives in a society where people are divided into factions that each follow different virtues-Abnegation who are selfless, Amity who are peaceful, Candor who are honest, Eridute who are clever and Dauntless who are brave. At 16, you have to choose which faction you wish to belong to for the rest of your life (although it’s not quite as simple as that, you have to pass an initiation test before you can be accepted as a member and if you don’t then you are left factionless-homeless essentially) and most teenagers choose to stay with the factions that they were born into. Here is a synopsis of the book:

In a society divided into factions all are forced to choose where they belong. And the choice Beatrice Prior makes shocks everyone, including herself. During extreme initiation tests, Tris must determine who her friends are and whether she can trust the man who both threatens and protects her. Because Tris has a deadly secret. One that might save those she loves….or destroy her.

Beatrice (or Tris as she is known later in the books) makes the rare choice of choosing to change faction from Abnegation to Dauntless. Tris has very unique qualities that means she doesn’t fit neatly into one faction-therefore she is known as a “Divergent” which is very dangerous for her as the leaders of her faction would kill her if they knew what she was-they like everyone to fit into one faction as people can be more easily manipulated that way. The book does have some similarities to The Hunger Games, but the story is different enough that it’s an interesting and exciting read and doesn’t feel like you are reading a replica of The Hunger Games with different characters. The premise of the different factions intrigued me, and I would like to see more of Candor and Amity in future books as we mainly see Eridute, Dauntless and Abnegation in this book, but we are introduced to characters from all and the qualities of the factions come through very clearly in the characters. The first half of the book is a little slow, but the pace definitely picks up, in fact Tris’ transformation from meek and mild to strong and tough is a little rushed if anything but I did much prefer her when she was tough because that’s the sort of heroine I like in a book.

The idea behind the factions is that they are supposed to keep the peace which means that the ending of the novel is a little predictable particularly if you have read dystopian fiction before as most follow a similar sort of formula and there are other parts of the novel that I found a little predicatable as well (but I won’t say what because I don’t want to give spoilers). It’s also a little unbelievable that the instructors of Dauntless are so close in age to the initiates as you would think the people training the intiates would be older as they would have more experience being part of the faction but this is a minor detail and doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the book. There were some parts with Tris and Four (her instructor) that were a little too teenage chick flick for me but the romance in this book was more sweet and chaste than in most teenage novels so it wasn’t too bad, and the romance was intertwined with the action rather than overshadowing the action and I liked that in this one respect Tris was still vulnerable as that’s quite relatable to a teenage girl. The book’s plot really only starts towards the end, it’s more of a character build-up and romance and introduction of the factions and the training for most of the book but it has enough action packed scenes to keep you engaged and wanting to read the sequel. I could have used a little more description of the world that Tris lives in though-I didn’t find I could imagine it as well as the worlds in some of the books I’ve read and the history of how factions came about is not explored as much as I would have liked-in The Hunger Games we know exactly how and why the Hunger Games occured whereas Divergent doesn’t really give many details as to how and why the factions occurred.

Four as a character was great-he was kind of a mix of everything, sweet yet tough and brave and mysterious and I look forward to learning more about him-we have a glimpse into his background but not much-that was something else I found with this book-I didn’t feel like I knew the characters very well by the end of it even Tris and some of the characters that I felt like I was starting to get to know were killed before I found out more (I won’t say which ones though). There is also no love triangle in this book which was a big plus since a lot of dystopian fiction has love triangles in them so that was refreshing!

Tris is far from perfect, she’s insecure and she questions who she is and what she is throughout the novel which is great because no one wants to read about the perfect girl, I like to read about characters who are flawed, but who you ultimately root for and it was nice to see her discovering new experiences in Dauntless that she was unable to have in Abnegation-I particularly like the part where she has a hamburger for the first time-I thought that was cute. I like the idea that the book questions whether one quality can define us and the nature of fear is also examined-the section with Tris’ fear landscape was one of my favourite parts of the book. I found the factions a little confusing at first and had to keep flicking back to see which one was which but I did get into it after a while.

I’m honestly not sure which faction I would choose if I was in the Divergent world-if I didn’t know how twisted they were I’d probably say Erudite because I love to read but since they are twisted I’m not entirely sure which one of the others I would fit into. I could see how Tris’ decision was difficult but it would have been more shocking if she had chosen Eridute, Candor or Amity than Dauntless as it is clear from the beginning that she is intrigued by the Dauntless. I also didn’t find it that obvious that it was Chicago where the book was set, maybe that’s just because I haven’t been there before.

Overall this book was quite a good read, with a lot of action and relatively good female heroine even though the plot is lacking for a considerable portion of the book. I will read the sequel but I would like to see more character development and world development and a better plot for the next book Insurgent.

My next book review will be of a book called Breathe by Sarah Crossan.

My Rating: 3/5