Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Allegiant (Veronica Roth)

I have never really understood the Divergent series hype. The first book was written excitingly, sure, but I found Tris as a character to be incredibly annoying and, to be honest, boring. Book two didn't do much to improve on the first. So it was out of a sense of duty that I finished the series, which I didn't want to do. I honestly was not worried about how Allegiant would end. Everyone who read this book--even the superfans--have been attacking it for the ending. I, too, really did not like Allegiant, and the ending is not at the top of my list.

It's difficult to talk about this book without spoiling what are supposed to be the plot twists about the book. I'll try, but no promises. Read at your own risk.

One of the big things on my list of reasons not to enjoy Allegiant is the narration. Unlike Divergent and Insurgent, which are narrated only from Tris' point of view, book 3 takes turns between Tris and Four. I was at first excited for the change of pace because I am very tired of Tris' personality, but Four is not any better. He is lovesick and whiny and "internally conflicted" in very tiresome ways. How am I supposed to deal with not one, but two aggravating narrators?

Next, the plot. We finally find out what the reason for the factions is and how it connects to the video from the end of book two, and boy is it dumb. I'm just going to say it since I'm not sure it's an actual spoiler, or at least not a very fun one--there is some weird genetics/behavioral stuff going on where the Divergent are genetically pure and the non-Divergent are genetically damaged. Or something. I never actually understood what any of it meant; what I did understand was that Chicago was turned into a government experiment and people were segregated.

It's an absurd idea that I couldn't figure out and it was, frankly, boring. The concept of genetic manipulation is a very horrifying one (see The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells for a great example), and there is nothing even moderately spine-tingling or unnerving about what Roth gives us here. The idea of the pure and the impure seems to be a fairly straightforward Holocaust-style metaphor and I cannot stress enough that I struggled to make sense of it.

There are a ton of moments where the author drops the ball on bone-chilling dystopia stuff: there's a memory serum that resets people's pasts and failed versions of these experiments that have such great potential and never seem to make it anywhere. I hit disappointment after disappointment as I began to skim more and read less. My attention was held very thinly.

And then the ending. My understanding is that most people are angry because it doesn't give them the pay-off they think they deserve. I hate it because I don't care about the characters. The fact that superfans are so upset is a reflection of their investment in the story, and that I was unmoved demonstrates how poorly Roth was able to connect me (and I know there are others out there!) to her characters. I mean, seriously. When I'm supposed to be sad or angry or whatever and I feel nothing is not a demonstration of my hollow insides (I wept at the end of The Time Traveler's Wife, so clearly I am not emotionless).

It's a disappointing end to a series made mostly of disappointment, in decline since the not-so-stunning beginning until the dull end. What is the deal, people? Read The Giver or something.

My rating: 1/5
Allegiant on Goodreads
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