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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Allegiant by Veronica Roth [Review]

WARNING: Allegiant is the third and final book of the Divergent trilogy. That said this review WILL contain spoilers. I'm sorry but it's just so unavoidable, for reasons that, if you've read the book, you will understand. It is practically impossible to review this book without talking about major plot points that take place. If you have yet to read Allegiant, or even the first two books in the series, Divergent and Insurgent, then I beg of you, please do not read this review or you will have an awesome reading experience ruined and that sucks! Honestly, HUGEMONGOUS spoilers! Turn away!!!

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US // UK

Written by: Veronica Roth.
Published: HarperCollins.
Format: Hardback.
Released: 22nd October 2013.
Rating: 4.5/5.

Official synopsis: "What if your whole world was a lie? What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything? What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected? The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories. But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love. Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent."


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Oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Where on earth do I start? Please bear with me, there is just so much to talk about and process, it's unreal. 

So, for those that follow me on twitter, you'll know I have been banging on about the impending release of Allegiant for ages. I have been so excited about it, as I get for most concluding parts of a series or trilogy. Something about the wait for Allegiant though found me more impatient than I've been for the finale of a series since I read Mockingjay and the wait then was just a mere month as I was only introduced to The Hunger Games in the July as Mockingjay came out in the August. But with Divergent and Allegiant I've been there since the beginning. In fact, since before the book even came out! I was lucky enough to recieve a proof copy of Divergent from HarperCollins UK way back in March 2011 and at the time I thought it looked amazing but the idea didn't really grip me. And then like millions of others I actually started reading and instantly fell in love with this world of factions, serums and war.

Fast forward to May 2012 when Insurgent came out and it was even better, in my opinion of course, than the first book. Cue massive hysteria when it was announced that the third book in the series wouldn't come out right until the end of 2013... 18 months of no Tris, no Four/Tobias, no factions, no nothing. How would we cope? How would we survive? Well we did and that time went pretty darn fast.

So I guess I should talk about the book itself since that's what we're here for...

I'm not going to lie to you. Allegiant isn't perfect. It isn't and that is a fact. There has been a huge, massive, colossal backlash surrounding the book and I'll be honest I don't get why... Yes, the book's middle is kind of boring. Not incredibly boring, only slightly. I still felt the need to read on, to turn the page to find out what was going to happen next. Tris, Four and the gang leave the city to see what exactly is going on in the outside world and they're introduced to a world where war has raved America. An organisation has been tasked with working out where humanity went wrong and as fare as they're concerned it's all down to genes. Bad genes. They believe there is an answer in human DNA as to why war destroyed so much of the population and they believe that there is a way that they can fix it. That's exactly what the city is. It's an experiment and they've been under surveillance the entire time, their whole lives monitored in the name of science. Suddenly, Tris learns what it truly is to be a Divergent. Being honest, it's not as exciting to be a Divergent as I thought it would be, but overall it actually makes sense in the grand scheme of things and it does work with the story.

The whole science aspect of the story is kind of brushed over pretty quick and sometimes I did find myself getting a little confused. I think the science part was one thing, if the only thing that annoyed me about the book a bit. I'm not a huge science-fiction fan, I'm not. I just don't really get it that much. Sometimes it's good but other times it's not. It just felt a bit out of place in Allegiant. I get that it was part of the story and in a way it makes sense but at the same time it just felt weird. For the past two books it's been a strictly dystoian affair, so to throw a bit of sci-fi in at the last minute kind of threw me off a bit. It made the book seem a bit less dystopia which I didn't like.

Something I loved about the book though was the dual narrative. Now, I love Tobias, can't get enough of him, so it's perfect that he has a time to really shine in Allegiant. In fact, the narrative is pretty much 50/50 so we get to see both Tris and Tobias' opinions on everything. It also works because there are times where the couple are split up, doing different things, on their own little missions so to speak, so it's good that we don't just have to follow one thread and then hear about the other in past tense, a re-telling or whatever. It just made it feel so much more immediate which I liked.

Onto characters! Tris is her usual, unfathomable self. One minute I'd find myself liking her again, agreeing with what she was saying and doing. And then others I was squirming in my seat as I read, almost not wanting to turn the page to see what stupid thing she'd do next. If anyone has seen the trailer for the movie adaptation of Divergent, due for release in March, then you'll see Janine (played by Kate Winslet) saying that she is a mixture of impurities and impulses and she's damn right. Something that is shown even more so in Allegiant is her impulses. She doesn't seem to think about the effects her actions will have on others. Not even Tobias. She just seems to act and then thinks later, oops, maybe I shouldn't of done that. She's so selfish. So obnoxious and you have to wonder at times when she does certain things why people want to be around her. It can be tiring to read as I so want to like Tris, I do. She isn't a particularly likeable character but this can be a good thing. It does make her real and it shows that even a supposed hero isn't perfect, no matter what it is they do. It is in turn something that does make her kind of likeable in a weird way. She's full of flaws and that's something that people need to learn.

Tobias now... Well, what is there to say about Tobias? He just exudes this masculinity that's needed, he's so different to Tris that they kind of work together. He's quiet, thoughtful and as he has been in the previous two books, brooding. He seems to think a lot more than he says, never giving too much away, and the fact that we get to read the book partly from his voice too adds to this and is something I personally loved, getting to see his internal thoughts, seeing that he's even more complex than we already know. He's not as strong as he seems, and this is a part of the story that does make me with it was just Tris narrating the story. He kind of loses some of his tough guy exterior and we see even more that it's just a front. I love Four and Tobias seems so far away from the guy that we first met during Dauntless initiation in book one. That said he still my favourite character in the trology. He doesn't share the selfish nature that Tris has, he contemplates everything before he does it, even when he helps rebels in the compound outside of the city who are determined to bring down the Bureau who are running the experiments - they've treated his life as entertainment, a problem that needs solving, and he has the power to do something about it, but still he thinks before commuting  And something I love about Tobias that Tris doesn't really have that much of is a conscience. Yes, she feels guilty about killing Will, but it kind of stops there. After things go wrong with the rebellion against the Bureau, Tobias is so full of guilt.

So much of Allegiant and indeed the trilogy itself is about choices. The choice to do what is right for one person, or the choice to do what is right for thousands of people. 

I like that we get to learn more about Tris's family and their history, stretching back to Edith Prior, or Amanda Ritter as she was known before she was entered into the experiment - I also liked the twist surrounding her mum and where she came from, what her purpose was in the city. Although I do wish we had seen more fighting in the book, more of a battle. Yes, there was a bit of battle, but nothing on the scale of those in Insurgent and at the end of Divergent. In places, I guess Allegiant was a little anti-climatic, just because everything kind of slotted in to place without have to be moulded to fit kind of thing.

And I guess I should also talk about the ending. The whole reason for the backlash. Now... there are those of us out there who believe that every book, every trilogy, series, and indeed every story, be it written or film, should end with a happy outcome. I've seen a lot of comments the last few days, in particular when I went looking for them after finishing the book about how Veronica has betrayed her readers. That she led us into a false sense of security only to pull the matt out from under us and leave us out to dry. I've seen comments that it is an authors DUTY to end a story happily as it gives people hope, in particular that YA fiction should he full of hope and happiness after the sadness that's proceeded it. Well I have one thing to say about that. I think it's bullshit. Absolute rubbish. I HATE that everything ends with a happy ending. It gets so boring, so repetitive. Yes, it's nice to know that love conquers, that good wins over evil and that everyone lives in the process but that's not giving people hope, it's giving people a false sense of reality. What I think people need to realise is that Veronica owes people no happy ending at all. It's her book. Her trilogy and she can end it as she see's fit. The way that any writer should be able to. 

In fact, I admire Veronica. It's a brave decision to kill of your main character. Big time. I doubt she did is flippantly and thought, well I wanna shock people. I bet she did it because it's the way she saw the trilogy ending. What people need to realise is, with these books and with books in the same vain, dystopian books, stories about war, is that bad things happen when you are at war. And people die. It's a fact. I don't see, personally, why that should be shied away from. Yeah, it would of been great if Tris hadn't of died and that her and Four lived a happy life after the factions and everything they've been through, that they had children and continued their lives. But the ending we got is just as good, I feel anyway. It's true to Tris' character. She acts on impulse and it's impulse, and her lack of consideration for what her actions do to others, that leads to her death. She sacrifices herself because she can't bear to see other people die for her, not after her parents, and I for one admire Tris as a character for that. She kind of redeemed herself although now poor Tobias has to go it alone.

I liked the epilogue at the end as well. It was good seeing Tobias a few years down the line, now that he's made a niche for himself in the world. He's still angry with Tris for leaving him, but he's trying to move on, to forgive her and the scenes at the very end are so beautiful that after the tears had already started a few chapters earlier with Tris' demise (yes I cried a bit because it was very beautifully written and emotional, so what...) they just flowed. I wish that there'd been more about the way people were adapting to life without the factions - that bit felt kind of rushed, they way no one was really bothered about it any more, that life went on with no questions asked. I felt that Evelyn's changes were very out of character but they were well written so that kind of makes up for it. But over all the ending was very good and I for one am satisfied. I know that in years to come I will re-read the trilogy again and again because my love for it is so great that even if I had hated the ending I would of still loved the trilogy regardless.

I know so many others will dislike the ending, but then I guess it's that way with every series, right? Some people hated the way JK Rowling ended the series with Deathly Hallows. Some people hate the end of Mockingjay. And now some people hate the way that Veronica ended the trilogy with Allegiant. But for those people there will be countless others that realise that at the heart of it all is a book that is well written and gives a good sense of closure, that no matter what their opinion of a book is, there is no good reason to give an author death threats like Veronica has been receiving this week. And that no matter what, an author only has a duty to themselves to write the story as they believe it and that will have to be good enough.


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