Allegiant by Veronica Roth
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
***WARNING- MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD***
My list of Worst Last Installments ever-
3. And now, Allegiant
Coincidentally, all 3 are dystopian. So far the only dystopian series I’ve read where the last book is the strongest and wraps the whole series well is The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness.
Let me start by saying that I really loved Divergent and Insurgent and Allegiant was my most anticipated book of the year. If you can just have a look at my pre-review you’ll see that I was very very excited for this book but this was a major let-down. I’ll be honest here, I am fully aware of the fact that the world-building of Divergent was flimsy but I ignored it because I absolutely loved the plot and the characters of the story. I enjoyed the idea of society being divided into factions even though it was unconvincing. I loved the way there were few people within the society who thought differently than the others, who broke the norms of society and who eagerly fought for the right. I was happy to see that Roth had allowed us to explore the world-building in Insurgent and the way she’d ended the second book suggested that there’s more to the world-building of this series than to what was introduced to us in book 1. I was even in the minority who thought that Insurgent was better than Divergent. I was really hoping that Roth would finally go deeper into the backstory of the factions and finally make the world-building seem less ridiculous. But in Allegiant, Roth not only convolutes the whole world-building which was already weak but she even dismantles the whole purpose and build-up of the first two books leaving us with more questions than answers. Most of the fans felt that the ending ruined the whole series for them (I’ll come to that in detail later) but for me the whole series is ruined because of both the ending and the nonsensical backstory.
I’ll start with the backstory.
The cliffhanger in Insurgent suggested that Allegiant would answer our questions about the backstory and the world building. Fans were eager to know about the big reveal. What is outside the fence surrounding Chicago? How were the factions formed? And after a long time of waiting we got this….
A few centuries ago, the government of USA wanted to “edit humanity” by curing people of undesirable qualities such as selfishness, cowardice, dishonesty and low intelligence. Some asinine scientists’ believed that genes were the cause of these undesirable qualities in humans and found a way to remove the specific genes causing them so that they could perfect humans. But the whole genetic manipulation backfired making the people even more aggressive and idiotic than they were and instigating a destructive war between the “genetically damaged” (people with altered genes) and “genetically pure” called the Purity war. The war caused a huge mess, destruction, turned USA upside down blah blah blah….Then our awesome asinine scientists’ came up with an intelligent plan to correct their mistake. They collected the genetically damaged people, put some corrected genes in them and locked them in a city, installed cameras everywhere in the city and decided to observe their behavior and wait for them to reproduce enough miraculously “genetically healed” offspring aka Divergent over CENTURIES so that the damaged genes would be completely removed. Thus, the experiment in Chicago was born.
Genes don’t work that way. They don’t have any control over a person’s personality traits. When genes are manipulated that manipulation cannot be revered by reproduction. We also see in the book that genetically pure people like Natalie and Marcus still produce genetically damaged offspring. Who wants recessive and dominant genes when there are healing genes in existence? *rolls eyes* Furthermore, if these intelligent scientists’ had the technology to remove the specific undesirable genes in the first place then they could’ve simply used the same technology to correct the genes of the damaged instead of waiting for centuries for them to heal. It’s hard to believe that never in these 200+ years with so much money being spent on the experiment these scientists ever thought of using the technology they already had. Can anyone tell me why there is no development in technology here after 200+ years? The science in this book is poorly researched and explained. If Roth would’ve spent at least 30 minutes of her time in reading this article on genetics on Wikipedia and realized that her idea was abysmal, I’m sure that we would’ve got a very different book. Authors shouldn’t insult their readers by underestimating their intelligence and presenting them with a book full of flawed scientific concepts and plot-holes. This book would’ve been amazing if Roth would’ve stuck to the original idea of Divergent and their allies fighting against the outside world or if she would’ve written about a war between Allegiant (a group motivated to discover what’s outside the fence) and Evelyn’s team.
The dual POV does not even serve any proper purpose up until the end. We don’t come to know anything new about Tobias, we don’t get to see the story in a different perspective by the dual POV and whatever information is told to Tris will be known to Four and wise versa making it repetitious.
Tobias is a completely different person in Allegiant. Forget about the badass, bold and confident Tobias you saw in Divergent and Insurgent because in Allegiant you’re not going to find him. He is stripped of all his charisma that made me fall for him in the first place. I can understand that Tobias is not perfect, he has flaws but while journeying through Divergent, Insurgent and reading Free Four and The Initiate I always saw Tobias as a person who’d left his past behind and strengthened himself- someone who was resilient and admirable. But this Tobias was different, lost, insecure and irrational and it pains me to say that because I absolutely adored that guy to pieces before reading Allegiant. I was astonished when Tobias- the person who is always deeply suspicious about others- accepts to work with Nita and her GD rebels just because they shared the status of being genetically damaged. He becomes instable after hearing that he was GD and had specific genes that were resistant to simulations. Even when Tris assures him that he is still the same person, he feels insecure and diffident about himself. I could understand when Tobias fell for Evelyn’s lies in Insurgent. She was his mother and he must’ve felt the need of having a parent on his side but in Allegiant, his trust on Nita was just…foolish. I got pissed off when Roth killed Uriah- a character with so much potential- just by proving him to be brain-dead. Uriah's death makes Finnick's death from Mockingjay look powerful.
The ending was poorly executed. Tris’s death did not make sense. She sacrifices her life on the notion to save her backstabbing brother’s life and to honour her parent’s sacrifice. See, I don’t find anything beautiful/symbolic/awesome here in fact I find the message given by Roth here to be very very disturbing. If your loved ones sacrifice their lives for you the best way to return them their sacrifice and be grateful to them is by living your own life happily. I would sacrifice my life to see you sacrifice your own in the future to “honour” me—said no parent ever. If Caleb had a chance to redeem himself why the hell did she take that opportunity from him only for him to live forever with the guilt of letting his sister sacrifice her life for him?
Her death was contrived. David killing her was so unbelievable because I found it hard to believe that he would kill the daughter of a lady he loved, he was not shown to be all bad and evil, and he was only motivated to continue the experiment. Tris was trained properly during Dauntless initiation but then why couldn't she even think or try to disarm David who was on a wheel chair? Why in the first place does she even forget her own gun? How the hell did she survive the death serum which was believed to be fatal even to the GP? If Cara, Caleb, Tobias etc. could retrieve guns and protective suit for the suicide mission why didn't they ever think of getting a bullet-proof vest too? Tris wore one while she went on a mission to The Fringe and maybe with the help of Amar they could've got it. I don't understand how Cara, Caleb and Matthew survived the memory serum when everyone else in the Bureau became a victim of it when Tris released it. This is such a large plot hole that I can drive a car through it. Alas, we get no proper explanation and the whole ending collapses like a house of cards. Roth has done great injustice to a beautiful character like Tris. I won't forgive her for killing of my favourite character.
The way the whole conflict was resolved between Evelyn and Allegiant just by Tobias giving some beautiful powerful speech on love was unconvincing. The whole resolution was devoid of suspense and thrill. And why couldn't Tobias make her believe in Loooove before? It could've saved us so much time and maybe we wouldn’t have got this trash. The resolution went this way-
Tobias- Mommy, mommy, can you stop being so atrocious please?
Evelyn- *looks at him and smiles* OK, my dear son! *gives a tight hug*
Was this the power-hungry Evelyn I read about in Insurgent? Was this the Evelyn who left Tobias alone only to be tortured by his abusive father? Was this the Evelyn who left Tobias just to fulfill her selfish needs? Was this the Evelyn who fed him lies and manipulated him in Insurgent just so she could complete her plan? Was this the Evelyn who loathed Tris and wanted her son to be away from the only person he loved so much?
I forgot to mention one thing before; retroactive continuity. So you can completely forget that you read Divergent and Insurgent because the blatant retconning in Allegiant shows why this book felt like it belonged to a completely different series and why readers felt that they've been manipulated and cheated.
-Genes deciding whether a person is Divergent or not. Retcon
-Tobias not being Divergent.
-Edith Prior's video being partially true.
-Natalie Prior working as a spy for the Bureau and was initially put into Dauntless.
-The Bureau supplying Jeanine with the simulation serum to instigate an attack on Abnegation (the only faction with high population of Divergent). If Divergent are so precious to the Bureau then why attack them even though indirectly? ONE BIG EFFING PLOT HOLE AND RETCON.
Allegiant on the whole was a disaster, everything came crashing down. All the struggles my favourite characters went through in book 1 and 2 were proved to be futile in Allegiant. Please, I don’t want to hear the excuse that Roth has written whatever she wanted too and the ending was realistic and that I must get over it and blah blah. As a published author, Roth had some responsibilities towards her fans. Those who loved Allegiant will call her brave but I refuse to call her that. She was selfish to write a conclusion that “she” wanted to write. If she were a good writer, she would’ve taken the expectations of her fans into account and would’ve delivered a satisfying conclusion. I simply call it bad business to sell a product that majority of the consumers would dislike. She has written an awful book, ruined what could become an amazing series and is now sitting with millions of dollars in her pocket. Also, if I wanted to read something realistic I would’ve read newspaper or stuck to non-fiction instead of picking a sci-fi/dystopian book. This is not history, its fiction and it’s not bound to realism.
I just felt that Roth wanted to deliberately push her plot forward throughout the book. I felt her frustration throughout the book, I'm pretty sure that she got bored while writing. She must've thrown her typewriter/pencil/pen and screamed "AARRG! I'm running out of ideas!!!" as the result we got this craptastic finale to the first 2 amazing books. Everything was thrown into a hopeless mess. I'm ready to believe that the editor was drunk while he read the manuscript of this book.
I don’t mind any kind of ending until unless it satisfies and brings justice to the story. I’m a fan The book thief and it had a sad ending, I loved Monsters of Men and it had a partially unresolved ending, I also loved Between shades of grey which had a bittersweet ending. If the ending alone has ruined the series for you, so be it. The ending can make or break. I fully understand that many readers have seen a lot of despair and failure in real life and they read fiction and relate to the characters. They root for their favourite characters to triumph so in a way they may find hope to fight their own battles. And of course, it pains to see everything crashing down with their heroes still struggling in the end.
The only reason why I'm giving it 2 stars is because I felt that Tobias’s grief in the end was portrayed powerfully. The scene where he sees Tris's body hit me right in the gut. Anyways, I’m not going to read anything written by Roth again. I’m not excited for the movie either. She has broken my heart. 16 months of anticipation and excitement is not worth this trash. I used to go around recommending this series to every reader I knew; now I won't do so considering how awful the conclusion was.
P.S - Since I have lots to say about Allegiant, I may add more to this review.
~Review by Ayesha