Allegiant by Veronica Roth: A book review with SPOILERS and a lot of feelings

allegiantOkay 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?

17 thoughts on “Allegiant by Veronica Roth: A book review with SPOILERS and a lot of feelings

  1. While I usually enjoy different POVs, I didn’t in this book. I found myself having to check who was doing the talking in certain chapters because they were written so much alike. I did like hearing from Tobias, though. But I hated at the end where the chapter just didn’t have a name. I think that was when I knew Tris was really dead (I was secretly hoping Roth would pull a Harry Potter).

    I agree with you about the death of Tris – it was definitely in character, and I wasn’t shocked by it. The minute Caleb agreed to breaking into the vault filled with the death serum, I assumed Tris would never let him do it.

    “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” – I never thought of that! I definitely agree with you. While I didn’t like the whole GP/GD aspect (I thought Roth could have come up with something more captivating), that puts a whole new spin on it.

    I, too, assumed Divergent would be just another dystopian YA novel, with not much to analyze or read into. But the trilogy is deeper than that, it expands past the typical YA cliches and delves into more serious topics – which you did a wonderful job of analyzing. I never thought of many of the things you mentioned.

    Overall, I really loved this book/trilogy. Awesome review!

  2. “alternating chapters between Tobias’s and Tris’s POV. I usually find this really lazy writing”

    Just to clarify, you find writers who use alternating POV in alternating chapters “really lazy writing”? Interesting.

    I find it the most difficult type of writing to pull off because the author has to have strong idea of all her/his characters’ and be able to give them strong individual voices and views that will stick with the reader. It’s quite hard to pull off.

    It sounds, from the review, that Roth probably isn’t someone who is capable of using this device well. It’s out of her depth. That’s no crime, but she should have stuck to the single character POV.

    Using alternating POV because one must to move the story means one is relying on tricks. That’s not good writing. And it typically doesn’t make for good reading.

    • Hi Indra,

      Thanks for clarifying. I should have made my point better. I really like books that alternate POV, but I don’t like when an entire series has been in one person’s voice and then the last book alternates between different narrators. For me it breaks the continuity, and too often seems like the author doesn’t know how to end the story. If that makes sense.

      This is really just a pet peeve of mine, I’m sure there are lots of people this doesn’t bother at all. And I totally agree with you that when done well alternative POV is some of the most difficult writing, and not lazy at all!

      • I agree wholeheartedly. As soon as I saw she had done that I guessed the ending and also rolled my eyes. Unfortunately, Roth just isn’t talented enough to pull it off and, as you say, the characters lose any distinction in their voices.

        It was very much a Stephanie Meyer move with her whole random jump to Jacob in the final book. I think it does show an inexperienced writer who has made a decision to do something at the last minute and needs to switch characters to carry it out.

  3. I disliked this book. However, while I wanted a happy ending , I did not dislike the book because of the ending. I disliked the book because I did not feel she developed the characters or the scene in the Bureau sufficiently. In fact, all the character including Tris and Tobias seemed flat to me. The changing POV was done so terribly. There was no change of tone or feelings as you changed between characters. Only at the end when I knew Tris was dead and the chapters had no feelings did I finally feel convinced I was in Tobias’s head. Prior to that I constantly had to check who was the narrator. Your review helped redeem the book slightly for me because I can see that perhaps she was exploring deeper ideas than I originally gave her credit for. Either she was too young or too rushed to pull off the deeper ideas and, instead to me everything felt contrived, boring or flat. I had hoped for better.

  4. I (finally) read it on Thanksgiving. I have…a lot of feelings about it.

    I think the whole GP/GD thing was an interesting idea, but she sort of introduced too much new information without really developing it well. It would probably have worked better as a stand alone, instead of as a continuation of the series. I kind of would have preferred to end this series with the process of the people in Chicago rebuilding their society and working out a new system of government after the fall of the Faction system.

    Overall, I was unhappy with the way she wrapped everything up so neatly. So much of what she brought up with the government and the experiments and the civil rights stuff was pretty complex, and it felt like she made some silly choices and oversimplified things just to be able to put a bow on it at the end. I agree with you that Tris’ self-sacrifice seemed really in character to me, but I HATED the “let’s just reset their memories” thing, especially because it was really morally ambiguous, and she didn’t really convince me that resetting the Bureau was any less reprehensible than resetting the experiments.

    I was pretty mad that the only reason she did the dual narration was so she could finish the story after Tris died, especially since she did such a terrible job with differentiating the viewpoints. I was sad when it looked like Tris and Tobias were going to break up, but not at all sad when she died. Maybe Tris was always like this, but she came off as so self-righteous and holier-than-thou in this one that I was really irritated by her.

    Sorry I just wrote a whole essay, but no ones else I know has read it yet!

  5. I couldn’t even finish I was so upset Tris died… The whole book took on an ominous feel… And I was just reading like “OMG something bad is bound to happen” and infact it did. I cried when Tris died and they had her funeral bot b/c she died but b/c I pictured a beautiful happy ending b/w Four & Tris. And I did not get it… It was very upsetting to read these books knowing how much strife these characters went through and to find they didn’t get their happy ending. Ugh still kind of upset lol I forget sometimes this is just a book and not real life.

    • Hi Kiera, thanks for commenting. Even though I didn’t feel this way at the end of Allegiant, I totally understand what you are saying. When you don’t get the ending you want or expect at the end of the book (especially at the end of a series of long books) it can feel like a betrayal. I think it is totally valid to be that upset even though it is a book, not “real life.” I have definitely gotten so upset over things that happened in books that I stopped reading them and cried for days (this is dorky but the example that comes to mind is ROSE IN BLOOM, by Louisa May Alcott) so don’t feel alone in that at all.

  6. I had been spoiled before I ever read the series. I started Divergent already knowing that Tris would die in Allegiant. It made me hesitant, but– as a writer– I read differently than a lot of readers, so I thought I’d give it a go. I really loved the world of Dauntless training we encountered in Divergent, so I was sad to see it go in the second and third books (though obviously I see why it had to!). I applaud Roth for writing the ending she wanted instead of the ending readers expected, but I felt differently about it than I have about other sad books (TFiOS, Book Thief, Last Unicorn).

    Did you feel like this ending is what HAD to happen? Sometimes I feel that way about books, happy or sad, but I didn’t necessarily feel that way about this one.

    • Wow. I can’t imagine reading the series from the beginning knowing how it would end. I do not think it HAD to happen at all. I really relate to your comparisons on having felt differently about TFiOS and Book Thief where the sad ending was necessary. I think something that is a strength and a weakness about the series is Roth’s resistance to conforming to a single genre, theme, or type of story. I liked the layers this brought to the political/social structure, but I thought the plot and character development suffered as a result of this. She could have ended this book almost any way she wanted and I don’t think I would have been that surprised, because to me it seems like by the end of book two the story could have gone anywhere.

  7. I have LOVED this series from the beginning! I didn’t feel as connected to Allegiant, but I still enjoyed the journey and felt Roth did a fine job of giving us details about their world, Tris and Four’s relationship (which was refreshingly realistic), and the whole genetics issue. I’m with you about the story as a whole and trying to figure out the main message since there is so much there. It’s normally pretty obvious with dystopian novels what their main message is (for example: Unwind – abortion, The Giver – euthanasia and other issues, Fahrenheit 451 – too many issues to list…), but I wasn’t really sure with Divergent. Now reading all 3 books and looking back to the beginning, I think the nature vs. nurture thing does play a big party in the series as a whole. I think the love interest was just a very nice sub-plot. 🙂

    • Hi! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate your use of the word sub-plot to describe the romance. That’s what a lot of people like best about the books, and I think the lack of a happy ending for Tris and Four is what a lot of upset fans are reacting to. But it isn’t a romance novel. The romance is nice, but it isn’t the main plot. Very good word choice!

  8. I was so depressed with Tris’s death in Allegiant that I know longer liked her as a character and Jeanine became my favorite character and she still is. I was depressed even with Jeanine’s death to. But if you are mad about Tris’s death get over it not all book can have an ending where the main character lives, also Tris made her own choices in all three of the books.

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