Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I've come to the conclusion that there's something about dystopian trilogies that inevitably leads to the same conclusion: The existing government is overthrown by the rebel-led insurrection, but something always is amiss. Maybe it's just me, but the finales for a lot of dystopian trilogies tend to fall flat (Ally Condie's "Matched" series comes to mind here), and leave you feeling a little disappointed at how an exciting beginning can end almost lifelessly. "Allegiant", the third and final book to Veronica Roth's riveting "Divergent" trilogy, left me feeling that way, bringing what could've been an unputdownable series to close.

The world as Tris knows it has disappeared. The factions have been abolished, fractured by betrayal and violence and replaced instead by a new, problematic society led by Tobias' mother, Evelyn. So when she is offered a chance to explore the world beyond the fence, a world in which she and Tobias can find a simple new life together, Tris is more than ready to go. But when she discovers that her new reality is even more disturbing than the one she's left behind, with secrets that force her to examine her loyalties and discoveries that change the hearts of those she loves. Once again, Tris must fight to comprehend the complexities of human nature--and of herself--while facing impossible choices of courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

I know my introductory paragraph up there hardly left any room for optimism, but trust me when I say that "Allegiant" isn't a crappy book. In fact, Tris and Tobias' character developments were interesting to read about as the book progressed, especially since it is the final book in the trilogy, which means that they will soon reach the crux of their character journeys before the last page. Tris, to me, is an awesome heroine. Not only is she a brave, butt-kicking and stubborn protagonist, but she is also compassionate and thoughtful, which, I guess, is the whole point of her role as a Divergent: Tris is an amalgamation of all these different characteristics which make each and every one of us human, from erudition, dauntlessness, abnegation, candor and amity (see what I did there). Watching her as she deals with conflicting problems and new, life-changing discoveries, as well as with her relationships with her family, friends, and Tobias, reveals the huge amount of change she's gone through since the beginning of the series. Tris is, without a doubt, a great heroine you can't help but become invested in and root for from the start, and I'd even go so far as to say one that you can look up to as a sort of role model.

The same, unfortunately, can't really be said about Tobias. If Tris is the epitome of a teenaged heroine, then Tobias is more of a gritty, 'real' character, with possibly more faults than admirable traits. I understand that growing up, Tobias had to deal with a butt ton of issues that left a lot of emotional, mental and physical scars, but there were times when I just felt like he was kind of annoying. This might be because of the comparison between his perspective and Tris', since the chapters alternated between their two points of view. There was definitely a sort of emotional journey that he goes through, what with his mother and abusive father and Tris and so on, but I still felt like he ended up as a character I lost interest in. On the other hand, he and Tris were generally pretty sweet as a couple, with a strong and believable dynamic between them that allowed them to mature both individually and as a pair. I just wish Tobias himself was a little more likable and strong as a character, especially since he was pretty great in the first two books!

The real disappointment I felt toward "Allegiant" was about its plot. It seemed as if the real action was over in the second book, and "Allegiant" just dragged it on for the sake of having a third book in the trilogy. Like I said before, the storyline is pretty generic for a dystopian finale, where there are post-insurrection problems that make the characters realize that everything is not as they seem. The pace was pretty plodding throughout the entire novel, and there wasn't much of a climax either. In a way, it's kind of like the storyline meanders this way and that, and never skyrocketed in tension or excitement. This may be due to the fact that Ms. Roth was trying to tie up all of the loose ends from previous books, in terms of Tobias' family and Tris' struggles with Caleb and being Divergent, but it ultimately fell flat.

All in all, "Allegiant" is a pretty disappointing finale to what had been an exciting and refreshing dystopian trilogy. It's unfortunate to see such great world-building, strong characters and riveting storylines decline to a dull end, as much as I (really, really, really!) don't want to say it.

Rating: 2/5

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