*** Spoiler Alert! ***
*** This post contains spoilers about the book Allegiant. If you haven’t read it, but plan to, STAY AWAY! You’ve been warned! ***
So I decided to give Allegiant another shot. You may recall that I was not a fan of Veronica Roth’s final installment of the Divergent trilogy. Many readers were disappointed by the novel, but my main faults were that the switching narratives didn’t work, Four became a ninny, the book was dull, and I felt unaffected by Tris’s death. Now that the movie trailer is out for the first part of the novel (because, of course, they HAD to split the book into two parts), I wanted to re-read the novel and see if it was really as bad as I first thought. So with fresh eyes and an open mind, I dived into the novel and found out….
1. The dual-narrators still doesn’t work. Tris and Tobias don’t read like two different characters. I once again had to keep asking myself, “which character am I reading?” I found Tris to be a compelling narrator in Divergent and Insurgent, and I really enjoyed reading the short stories from Tobias’s point of view in Four, but in Allegiant, their voices are the same.
2. What’s outside the fence is still a big let down. It’s boring. It’s not the futuristic, fancy place that the movie trailer depicts; it’s literally O’Hare airport, but rundown and modified into a laboratory compound. Tobias thinks, “I don’t want to think about staying here, making this my home. I already feel trapped by my own disappointment. This is not what I imagined when I thought of escaping my parents and the bad memories they gave me.” It is not what readers imagined either. The characters, used to the excitement of initiation, serums, war, and a constant struggle to survive, become bored because they no longer have a purpose. Tris thinks to herself, “When we left the city, we lost our factions, our sense of purpose. Here there is nothing to do but wait for something to happen.” Why didn’t the Bureau give Tobias, Cara, Peter, Caleb, Uriah, and Christina jobs or tasks or schooling or send them away? Tris at least had her mother’s journal and some council meetings to attend to keep her occupied. No one else had anything to do all day. I think this is part of the reason why Tobias gets mixed up with Nita and her schemes. He’s bored and used to have something to fight against. Overall, the book’s premise is just a little silly. Especially when it comes to their plan to take down the Bureau. I mean, why is no one keeping track of what they do at the compound? Tobias is supposedly on parole for having helped with the first attack, yet he is giving Caleb shooting lessons. And how do they have such easy access to weapons and explosives? I’m not sure what David and Zoe were so busy doing all day long. Seems like they brought about their own demise. The plot was unbelievable and had a few too many plot holes.
However, Roth may have been on to something with her genetic modifications. David explains to the group that, “a few centuries ago, the government of this country became interested in enforcing certain desirable behaviors in its citizens. There had been studies that indicated that violent tendencies could be partially traced to a person’s genes–a gene called ‘the murder gene’ was the first of these, but there were quite a few more, genetic predispositions toward cowardice, dishonesty, low intelligence– all the qualities, in other words, that ultimately contribute to a broken society.” Can you imagine if this was something scientists could really do? That instead of stricter gun control laws, for example, we just modified people so they wouldn’t attempt those crimes? This is both interesting and terrifying. Unfortunately, while Roth might have had something here, the delivery of all the sciencey details gets boring and repetitive. Some rewriting or editing could have helped this out.
3. I was perhaps too harsh on Four the first time around. I thought he was weak and focused on being genetically damaged, but now I see that he’s really more concerned about his parents and his desire to be loved. He is busy deciding which parent he can work with to put an end to the chaos in Chicago. He’s also feeling guilty about not protecting Uriah. Oh, and he’s acting as a buffer between Tris and Caleb. So maybe he wasn’t the ninny I pegged him as during the first read. This makes me happy because I really do love Four and I was so disappointed by him when I first read Allegiant. Now he can return to his rightful place as my literary crush!
4. Tris’s death felt more real and valiant this time around. Perhaps because I knew it was going to happen, but I understood her reasoning better this time and respect the sacrifice she made. However, it was still terribly sad that she gets shot by David of all people. I’m not really sure why he shot to kill in the first place. I don’t think he even knew what she was trying to do. It’s also sad because she has mended her relationship with Tobias and they will finally get to choose how to live their lives, and suddenly everyone has to go on without her.
In all, I liked Allegiant more the second time around, but it still didn’t live up to my expectations. I just think it could have been better. I’m glad I gave the book another chance. It’s a quick read, so it didn’t take time away from other books, and it got the bad taste out of my mouth from the first reading of the novel. That being said, I think there is a real opportunity for the movie to improve upon the book…