Book Review!: Allegiant, by Veronica Roth

[This review is based on the Nook Book edition from Barnes and Noble, published by the Katherine Tegen imprint of HarperCollins Publishers in 2013.]

***Disclaimer: If you have not yet read Allegiant and do not want to be spoiled, DO NOT CONTINUE READING THIS POST. Thank you!!***

Here’s the deal:
Allegiant is the third and final book in Veronica Roth’s incredibly popular young adult (YA) Divergent trilogy. As with Divergent and its follow-up, Insurgent, Allegiant takes place in dystopian Chicago sometime in the future. It follows Beatrice “Tris” Prior, a sixteen-year-old girl who, in Divergent, left her Abnegation-faction family and transferred to the Dauntless faction to start a new life. Tris has suffered tremendous losses and experienced great personal growth, including the blossoming of a romantic relationship with her mentor, Tobias “Four” Eaton. We follow along as the dystopian society begins to come apart and war erupts between the factions and the factionless (think “homeless”). When Allegiant begins, Tris and several of her friends have been arrested and are sitting in a cell, trying to figure out how to escape. This is just one of many twists and bumps in the road to the shocking conclusion of the book and, by extension, the series.

My thoughts:
In order to understand what’s happening in Allegiant, Divergent and Insurgent are required reading. I connected immediately with Divergent and found myself investing in Tris, Tobias, and their friends; I even went so far as to reread the first two books at least a half-dozen times each to ensure that the full story was ingrained in my mind before opening Allegiant. I’ll tell you one more thing — I pre-ordered Allegiant for my Nook and downloaded it around 8am on Tuesday morning. By 9pm Tuesday night, I had read the book cover to cover…and that’s with a two-year-old in the house (who got treated to a day of watching whatever movies he wanted so Mommy could finish her reading — which I usually do while he’s sleeping, but I simply couldn’t wait for this one)! I didn’t want to write a response immediately after closing the book; the ending sincerely threw me for a loop and I needed time and sleep to process what had just happened.

Well, now I’ve had some time and some sleep, and I’m ready to talk.

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I’m just going to get right to discussing the end of this book, because it was shocking and horrifying, and because it’s really the only part of the book that the Internet is really talking about. So, to offer my two cents:

This was a tough one. I had a horrible feeling, from the minute I opened the book, that I knew how it would end. Unfortunately, I was right: Tris, our heroine, took her brother’s place on a suicide mission and, though the death serum wasn’t enough to claim her Divergence, a scientist’s bullet was. Her self-sacrifice was an act of love, forgiveness, and protection for her brother Caleb, who had betrayed her in Insurgent and had chosen to go on the mission to overcome the guilt he felt towards her. I’m having difficulty deciding which scene was more heartbreaking: the death scene itself, where Tris sees her dead mother and says, “Am I done here?” (Roth 297), before passing; or Tobias’ reaction upon seeing Tris’ body: “I don’t know how long it takes for me to realize…that she is gone. But when I do I feel all the strength go out of me, and I fall to my knees beside the table and I think I cry, then, or at least I want to, and everything inside me screams for just one more kiss, one more word, one more glance, one more” (Roth 309).

Veronica Roth has been building up the relationship between Tris and Tobias from the very beginning, and now to have the rug pulled out from under my feet was both disorienting and somewhat infurating. Why would she do this? Who would allow their readers to accept and support this relationship all the way to this point and then just take it away? I gave it a lot of thought and came to two very different conclusions.

1. As with many other fans of the series, I felt cheated. Tris lost both of her parents to gunfire on the same night in Divergent; Tobias abandoned his very abusive father after losing his mother at a young age (though this loss happened through deception — Evelyn, whom he thought to have died during childbirth, was actually exiled by their faction after having an affair). Tris and Tobias dealt with so much together, both within their relationship and with the outside world. They experienced quite a few ups and downs, and fans were left cheering and hoping for their romance to survive the horrors of all that was happening around them. I, for one, pictured the two of them getting married and starting a life together at the end of Allegiant — I’m sure I wasn’t alone in that vision. So to kill one of them off made me want to scream (and I nearly did when I read Tris’ death scene…but I had to control myself because Joshua Bear was sleeping). Additionally, getting to experience this (and other things) from both of their perspectives was, honestly, riveting.

2. Tris ultimately reverted back to her Abnegation upbringing by sacrificing herself in place of her brother, despite his betrayal in Insurgent. She did exactly what her parents would have done, and what they taught her that she should do. At the same time, choosing to go on this suicide mission was a clear act of bravery, which Tris learned from joining the Dauntless in Divergent. Protecting her brother also showed us the Amity’s characteristic of kindness; her short but frank conversation with David prior to being shot gave us a peek at her honesty, or Candor; and having the wherewithal to set off a memory serum even as she was dying put her intelligence, valued by the Erudite, on display. Tris’ last act was the ultimate act of Divergence, and I was left feeling sad but proud of her — she died protecting those she loved and by being the greatest version of herself. Tobias would be lost without her, of course, but he could take some small comfort in knowing this.

But damn, I would have loved to see them happily married with a family of their own. I’m truly torn, to say the very least. It’s going to be very interesting to watch Shailene Woodley and Theo James act all of this out when Allegiant inevitably finds its way to theaters in the next couple of years.

And now, just a few more observations:

1. I was left with one question following Tris’ death: when she blew off the vestibule doors, her gun flew out of her hand. Why didn’t Caleb run after her toward the vestibule, find the gun, and shoot David with it before he could kill Tris? It would have been selfless of him to put himself in harm’s way in order to protect his sister, so why didn’t he do it? I guess the Erudite really was much stronger within him than the Abnegation, after all.

2. I noticed that Tobias’ last words to Tris — “I’ll see you soon” (Roth 270) are the same words Tris’ father says to her before she chooses to transfer to Dauntless and leave him forever in Divergent. Thumbs up, Ms. Roth. Beautiful.

3. Peter was a major antagonist for much of the other two books, but it felt as though he fell by the wayside here. I understand that he was overwhelmed by the world outside the fence surrounding Chicago — everyone who left felt the same way — but he barely existed in this book. The same goes for two other antagonists — whatever happened to Molly and Drew? They became factionless before the end of Divergent, and its sequels are full of scenes featuring the factionless, and yet we never hear from them again. Are they still alive? Did they commit suicide as a result of being kicked out of Dauntless? It just felt as though some of the secondary characters we grew to like (or at least to know) in the earlier books were left in the dust for the sake of telling the larger story, and I had some trouble accepting that. I would have liked to have seen more involvement from the supporting characters, instead of just introducing one new character after another.

4. Sacrificing Uriah was a great move on Veronica Roth’s part, simply because removing him from the picture would force Tobias, who promised Uriah’s elder brother that he would look after him, to feel both the magnitude and the consequences of his participation in an ill-conceived attempt to sabotage the scientists who took them in.

So would I recommend this book?
Yes — but not without reading Divergent and Insurgent first, and not without preparing yourself for utter shock and heartbreak. Again, you have been warned (and spoiled, if you ignored my first warning and read the whole review, ha-ha).

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Check out the Divergent movie trailer (coming in March 2014) here:

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Order the Divergent trilogy box set on Amazon here:

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Order the Divergent trilogy box set via Barnes and Noble here: