Allegiant (Divergent, book three)
By Veronica Roth
Published 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books
WARNING: This review will contain spoilers for the first two books and likely for this one as well. If you'd like to read my review of books one and two, follow the links.
Tris's world is no longer the same one she grew up in. She can no longer deny that the Factions are not working and it's going to take something huge to start a change. Will Tris be that catalyst?
After mixed reactions to the first two books in the series, I was eager to see what the concluding volume had in store. Then I began to hear reader reactions from the first batch of fans who read it - and none of it was good. So, I got even more interested in seeing just what Roth had done. I read the book as soon as I could after its release and sadly haven't gotten around to reviewing it until now. I wish I had written my review immediately after finishing; I think I'd have stronger points to make. This is something I'm trying to work on this year; we'll see if I succeed.
Anyway, back to the book. Like the second, I felt like Roth did a good job keeping tension high and throwing in believable twists and turns. I still feel pretty ambivalent about Tris - I root for her to succeed but I also find her annoying quite frequently. With this book, Roth has introduced a new POV - that of, Four, Tris's boyfriend. It's an interesting choice and I'm not sure it's one I entirely understand. It seemed like their narratives were duplicating each other a lot of the time and if Roth wanted a new perspective, there were a number of characters who would have given more interesting insights to events than Four. Surprisingly, this was my boyfriend's main problem with the book (yes, he's read them all) - he absolutely hated Four as a narrator and could not comprehend why Roth had done this.
As I expected, many questions from the previous books were finally answered in this volume, though I'm not sure those answers were always as satisfactory as I would have liked. Another anecdote from my boyfriend: he read the book before I did and when we were talking about it casually one day, I mentioned its setting of Chicago. "How do you know that?" he cried. "They just found out it's Chicago in this book. Have you been reading spoilers?" Well, I hadn't, and I guess I missed the point in the story where the fact that the whole series takes place in Chicago was not obvious. I've known that since book one. So, this big reveal in book three fell very flat for me.
The ending is, of course, what most early reviewers of the book were up in arms about. For me, I think it was a realistic way to end the story for Tris's character and I'd likely have been overwhelmingly disappointed if Roth had chosen to end it any other way. However, I'm not sure that the ending worked in the larger context of the story. I don't get a huge sense of things actually changing in the aftermath of Tris's decision. That's my boyfriend's reason for hating the ending - he thinks it was all for nothing. I can clearly see this argument.
So, overall, this series is a mixed bag. It is a good readalike for fans of fast-paced dystopian fiction but they may ultimately find themselves too frustrated with some aspect of this series to say they enjoyed it.