Okay so I want to start out by saying, just in case you missed my shouty capitals in the title, that this review has spoilers. I’m not just talking about spoilers for the previous two books, Divergent and Insurgent,which I think are inevitable of any book that isn’t the first in the series. And I’m not just talking about giving away one or two jokes (if you know anything about the series you’ll know there are no jokes) or the fate of a minor character. This post could very well spoil everything. If you haven’t read Allegiant and you keep reading I could ruin your entire reading experience. I’m serious. I hate hate hate when I accidentally read spoilers and I usually try to keep them out of my reviews. However, having recently finished this book and having so many feelings and so few people to talk about my feelings with this time I had to include them. If you haven’t read the series, you can read my review of Divergent here or if you are just looking for a summary of the book here’s the one from goodreads. Be warned it is only my second book review ever, but I think it does capture my feelings about the book.
Okay so now that you’ve been warned if you want to keep reading let’s talk about this book. The first thing that stood out to me, was the shift from the previous books being told solely from Tris’s perspective to the alternating chapters between Tobias’s and Tris’s POV. I usually find this really lazy writing and kind of a betrayal of the reader to switch the form partway through a series, but this didn’t bother me so much. I have always found Tris cold and hard to care about and felt more connected with Four/Tobias. I didn’t feel like his voice differed very much from Tris, but there were obvious reasons why Roth had to do this.
The main reason being that Tris dies, and it’s one of the rules of fiction that unless you get very creative with some kind of plot device or afterlife a first person narrator can’t keep telling the story after their death. This is where the feelings enter in. I was totally blind sighted by her death. I spent the second half of the book anxiously dreading Roth killing of Tobias, and I felt more sad for him (and longing for a now impossible happy ending) than I did that Tris died. As I said before, I always felt more interested than connected to her as a character. I didn’t form the same attachments to Tris that I did to the protagonists of other series, like Harry Potter, Katniss, and even Bella Swan. I understand why fans are so upset, and I think they have every right to be. But I also think that Tris sacrificing herself that way was completely in character. Whenever she got the chance to be a martyr she ran towards it. So while I was surprised when I read that moment, upon reflection I don’t find Roth’s decision particularly surprising.
What I do think is interesting about the Tris sacrificing herself, is that it seems to me to be a comment on the whole genetics theme within the book. Tobias as supposed to be genetically deficient by having too much Abnegation in his DNA. But it is Tris, the genetically superior and apparently more stable one, who takes selflessness (Abnegation) to a whole new level by sacrificing herself for her brother (who I still hadn’t forgiven).
The genetics twist and the nature vs. nurture discussion in this third book was actually my favorite part of Allegiant (okay second favorite … I would definitely have dog-eared the kissing scenes if I hadn’t been reading on an e-reader). The fact that nurture isn’t defined as only family environment, but also societal values is very interesting to me. What many readers criticize, but I enjoyed about the series is that each sequel added new layers, themes, and questions about the world they live in. If you read my review of Divergent, you’ll see that I viewed the books as just another dystopian novel (albeit one with an interesting concept). Now that the series is over I’m left wondering: Is it primarily a love story between Tris and Tobias? Is it a family story? Does it follow in the vein of Frankenstein as a cautionary tale about science and industrialization? Is it a political story? Or a bildungsroman where the protagonist refuses to grow up?
I’m left wondering how the ending – Tris’s death, Tobias’s unlikely reconciliation with his mother, and the epilogue in post experiment Chicago – inform how to define the overall impetus of the books. This book left me with way more questions than answers and way way more feelings than is probably appropriate. I really enjoyed my reading experience and mostly am just itching to discuss it with people who’ve read the book (hence the spoilers and the fact that this post is way too long and being posted very late in the day).
So if you’ve read it, take pity on me and let me know in the comments what your thoughts are. I will be eternally grateful.
Also who is excited for the Divergent movie?