Book Club in Session: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant HeaderHeather and I made the mistake of starting the Divergent series when only two of the three books in the trilogy had been released, so it’s safe to say anticipation to read how the trilogy would end was running high.  What is surprising is that we actually fall in different places on the love it or hate it spectrum.

Following the revelation at the end of book two that Tris and the rest of the city may not be alone in the world as originally thought, and that this city was actually set up by those outside to separate the inhabitants from everyone else, it wasn’t quite obvious what Roth had planned for the world beyond the walls of this dystopian version of Chicago.  More importantly for many, I’m sure, is what this cliffhanger will lead to between Tris and Four.

***Warning – This discussion includes spoilers***

Lauren:  Speaking of Four, Veronica Roth made the choice that instead of sticking with only Tris as the narrator, half of the chapters will now come from Four’s perspective.  Don’t get me wrong, as a male lead I was very supportive of his character, but honestly I didn’t want to be in his mind, especially after spending two books getting used to and connecting to this world through Tris’s eyes.  She wasn’t the perfect narrator and sometimes I wanted to smack her across the face, but I still prefer her reactions and opinions to being split between two characters, especially when being introduced to a whole new world.

Even with the inclusion of Tris’s death (which I am assuming is the major reason that this decision for multiple narrators was forced on us), this wasn’t necessary for the majority of the book.  Matter of fact, it might have been even more effective and jarring had we switched to someone else after this death.

Heather: Yes, I agree with you there. I loved Four in the previous two books, but once we were in his mind every other chapter or so this book, I began liking him a whole lot less. I mean, I could deal with Tris being annoying, but not Four too! How am I supposed to continue to crush on him when I am privy to all the mushy gushy thoughts about Tris floating around in his mind? I liked him more when he was shrouded in mystery.

I guess another reason Roth decided to split the perspectives, apart from Tris dying and all, is just that during a lot of this book Tris and Four either weren’t speaking to each other, or they were each off doing their own thing. So in order to be kept in the loop, there sort of had to be dual perspectives. However, it would have been better for Roth to have done the multiple narrator thing starting in book one and continuing through the series or not at all, instead of suddenly thrusting it on the reader out of the blue in the final book.

Personally, out of everyone, I think it would have been most interesting to be inside Caleb or Peter’s mind for the second perspective.

Lauren: Yeah, these are the two most interesting characters to me because I don’t understand why they do the things they do, so I would love to know why Peter saved Tris in book two and how he really feels about himself considering the battle that must be waging within if he doesn’t want any memory of who he is.  Caleb would also be a great character to know more about because he was willing to stand by and let his sister get killed.  This doesn’t mean that I would have wanted them to have intense therapy sessions with each other now that readers are able to spend more time exploring this relationship’s struggles, but I would have still loved to read his mind through it all, especially if Tris’s going to take his place in the end.

Heather: Yeah, to be honest Peter’s decision to wipe his memory took me completely by surprise. He never really seemed to have any sort of remorse about the bad things that he had done, so I don’t understand where this apparent 180 came from. And Caleb was one of the people I always thought would have Tris’s back, especially when he told her to choose the faction that would make her happy before the choosing ceremony. So again, it came as a complete shock to me when he essentially betrayed his sister, only for Peter (of all people) to swoop in and save the day. It didn’t make any sense! I needed some clarification!

Lauren: Clar-i-fi-ca-tion!  Clar-i-fi-ca-tion!  Wow, that is a awkward word to chant… I actually think that out of all of the options, the journal entries of Tris’ mother should have been the other perspective.  They would have needed to be longer, more frequent, and/or more in depth about everything, but this would have been the perfect way to learn about the outside world from someone who didn’t start out in the Chicago experiment.  We could have learned about the gene discrimination and all that was caused because of it, and this would have been a way to still deal with some of the problems contained in the book, like Four feeling all whiny about what this all means about who he is, but instead of leading to him making stupid decisions and killing Uriah it could have just been something that Tris helps him come to terms with as she was the voice of reason on that front.

Personally, I think this whole gene thing shouldn’t have been as big of a part of a story as it was.  Maybe if it had been more in the background as the underlying reason for it all I would have been ok with it, but I just have this hard time believing that scientists who are able to create all of these incredible serums can’t use their observational skills to see that the differences between the genetically perfect and genetically damaged are not as impactful on a person’s behaviors as they originally believed.

I dunno, maybe the story should have never left Chicago…

Heather: Oh, yes, the diary entries from Tris’s mother would have been a good second perspective, because I always thought her mother was one of the more interesting characters in the book, especially after we learn she was actually brought into the experiment from outside of Chicago. But I do not agree that the genetic part should not have been such a big part of this book. We needed an explanation as to why these people were constrained to Chicago, and there was so much build-up to what existed outside of the city limits that it would have been a bad move never to have them find out. I’m not sure how impressed I was with the whole genetic healing explanation or with the cities essentially being formed for experimental purposes, but I have to applaud Roth for taking a sort of crazy idea and going with it. It’s kind of like the ending to Lost. You either hated it, or made peace with it and said, “Well at least all of the other seasons leading up to it were awesome (more or less)!” [Lauren’s note: Aw look at innocent Heather thinking these are the only two reactions to this show’s finale.] So although I do not think book three of the Divergent series was of the same caliber as books one and two, it still held its own, was entertaining, and for me didn’t really “ruin” the series like other people seemed to think it did.

Honestly, I don’t think people had as big of a problem with the “genetic” element as they did with Tris dying. In my opinion, the people that got their feathers in a ruffle over Tris’s death need to watch more of The Walking Dead. That show teaches you that no character is too important to die. However, not to be a broken record, but this was one of those instances when I think it would have been a good idea to explore the relationship between brother and sister more fully and allow us to see Caleb’s human side, so the readers felt like there was vindication for Tris taking his place and essentially going to her death in place of him.  What did you think of her death scene?

Lauren:  I am actually ok with Tris being killed because she has gotten away with a lot throughout the series, so it was bound to happen.  More specifically, I love that it was a bullet that took her down.  Maybe I’m sadistic, but she was so sure that she would survive the serum that I believed her 100%, so the bullets taking her down came out of left field after thinking everything was going to turn out ok like every other instance of trouble she finds herself in.

On the other hand, what I did not like were her final thoughts.  Maybe in book one when she walks to her doom these thoughts of being ok with dying, maybe even a little bit relieved to finally let it all go and go with her mother, would have been appropriate, but here it just seemed to not match up with her feelings.  She didn’t want to die!  She had Four!  I know that she is happy that it is her and not anyone else, but I hated that she just gave up like this in her final moments.  So weak…  Not only that, but I really believed she wouldn’t be dead because it seemed like a weak sendoff for this character that we only got to spend half of the normal amount of time with thanks to the multiple narrators.  Weak I say!!!

Heather: Yeah, at the end of that chapter Roth made it kind of unclear whether Tris died or not. We think she did, but maybe not because it wasn’t exactly the best send off, especially with what you said about Tris just acquiescing and not really thinking anything profound. With all the “fight” in her leading up to this, I would have expected a little more struggle. But I’ve never been shot before, so really who am I to say what goes through one’s head during that moment? Maybe at that moment it is perfectly normal to just give up and let go.

I did not really latch on to the death scene as being as weak as I did the “resolution” to the war being waged inside the city. I mean really, after three books full of inner-city strife, the thing to end it all is Four approaching his mom and essentially saying, “I want my mommy back.” To which she responds, “Ok.” Wow. If that is not lazy writing, I don’t know what is.  What about all the factionless people that were backing up Four’s mom? Are they just expected to be ok with dropping everything and voting on the future of the city instead? Apparently so, because that is exactly what went down. Also, Four didn’t really start rebuilding the relationship with his mother until a full two or so years later. You would think if she was going to give up the fight, she would have wanted some immediate progress on their relationship.

I guess the resolution to everything seemed poorly thought out and a little bit forced. Like Roth couldn’t think of anything better so she just decided to go with the cliche choice between child and passion. I feel like it’s an ending that’s been done before, or an ending that could have happened at the end of any family show from the 90s, complete with the audience cooing “awwww” while mother and son hug it out.

Lauren: But replace mother and son with Bob Saget and daughters…

Speaking of parents coming in to teach their children lessons: when in doubt, hug it out. I’m right there with you on this wrap up with Four and his mom. All we have to go on is the longing looks she would give that glass sculpture and this is supposed to be enough to satisfy as reason for why she gives all her beliefs up that she’s been living with for years and years?

That’s how everything seems to be dealt with, though, just taking the easy way out. For starters, I didn’t get Four doing something so stupid as helping out the defective in such an impromptu manner, but I guess the author needed to hammer home the anger of the defective towards the genetically perfect (as if the war we’ve been dealing with for two books now wasn’t enough). And why not throw in yet another bout of tension between Tris and Four? How about we kill Uriah too to really make Four look like a doucheface!? But I need a sex scene… Ok it’s all better now!

It just felt like everything was thrown together and a lot of things were forced that the story didn’t need, but the author needed in order to do what she wanted with the story. A lot of it just didn’t feel right, was half baked, and/or just way too easy.

Heather: Oh well.  Despite the general thrashing we gave the much awaited ending to the Divergent series, I still enjoyed reading this. No, I didn’t voraciously tear through it like I did with the first two books in the series, but I still thought it was a good read nonetheless, no matter how poorly contrived some of the plot twists were.

Lauren: I can agree that there is some enjoyment to be had, but I was still pretty disappointed regardless.

Heather’s Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Lauren’s Final Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars     

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