A Second Look at Allegiant

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*** 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. booklove1I 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.

imageIn 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…

Current Read: Four

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When I saw that Veronica Roth’s Four was available through my library’s digital collection, I borrowed it right away. I own the book in hardcover, but I’ve been unable to read it. My kindle fire is so much easier to utilize while I’m nursing baby. So far, I have read two of the stories in this collection.

Goodreads Book Blurb:

Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.

Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth comes a companion volume to the worldwide bestselling DIVERGENT series, told from the perspective of the immensely popular character Tobias. The four pieces included here—THE TRANSFER, THE INITIATE, THE SON, and THE TRAITOR—plus three additional exclusive scenes, give readers an electrifying glimpse into the history and heart of Tobias, and set the stage for the epic saga of the DIVERGENT trilogy.

Since this book is really a collection of novellas, it’s hard to get totally immersed in theimage story. Just when you’re hooked, the story ends and you’re on to another short story. That being said, I’ve got a bit of a literary crush on Four, so I’ll take what I can get! I like seeing Four as a young initiate, trying to figure out his place in the world. And it’s fun to see the other characters like Zeke, Shauna, and Eric before Divergent takes place. Four is such a self-possessed pillar of strength for Tris in Divergent, so it’s interesting to see how he ended up that way. Readers also get a glimpse of Jeanine Matthews and some simulations that have Four on edge already. I enjoy Roth’s writing style – there’s a great balance of dialogue and action, and the story always seems to be racing forward. While I’m still not sure if I’m into all of these short stories that authors are adding to their work, I’d recommend Four to readers who were fans of the Divergent series.

What are you currently reading?

Dishing on Divergent: The Film

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**Contains spoilers—if you haven’t seen the movie yet,

you may want to stay away**

**For real, you’ve been warned! Spoilers up ahead!**

 

I may have been harsh on Allegiant, but I am pleased to announce that I thoroughly enjoyed the film version of Veronica Roth’s Divergent novel. After reading the book twice and loving it just as much the second time around, I had high hopes for this film.

When I saw that Shailene Woodley and Theo James were chosen as the lead characters, Tris and Four, I was a bit skeptical. They weren’t quite what I had pictured in my head. According to the book, Tris is supposed to be petite and blonde—compact so that Four can carry her all over the place! Her size makes her seem more vulnerable and weak, so her rise to the top of the leader board trisandfouris more impressive. Since Shailene isn’t a tiny girl (she’s 5’8”—tall for a lot of Hollywood actresses), I was worried about how she would look with Theo James on screen. But my feelings changed as I watched the film. Shailene became Tris for me, and I liked that she’s a healthy, normal looking girl. Theo’s soft voice was perfection. He was the perfect amount of brooding, mysteriousness, and protectiveness. The audience certainly seemed to think so, too—as there were several catcalls and giggles of delight when he removed his shirt to reveal his tattoos!

Other Things I Liked About the Film:

  • I thought the film did a great job of explaining how the society was set up and how each of the factions function. My husband hasn’t read the book, but he could understand the story. This is different from The Hunger Games, where he had lots of questions about how things work afterwards.
  • I also enjoyed the overall setting of the film. The dilapidated Chicago skyline was cool to see, as was the incredible fence built around the city. It’s not how I had imagined the fence looking, but the sheer magnitude was impressive. If I saw a fence like that, I would certainly be curious about what was on the outside. The Dauntless Pit was pretty cool too. I pictured it a bit more natural and rocky looking, but the film version probably makes more sense since it’s inside a building, right?ericormacklemore
  • I had a little crush on Eric as soon as he appeared on screen—odd, because he’s Four’s rival and not a very nice person—but I loved his Macklemore look and cool voice! (Don’t worry–I’m still Team Theo!) The cast in general was great—I liked Zoë Kravitz’s tough-girl persona for Christina, and I liked seeing Tony Goldwyn (aka Fitz from Scandal) in another role. Ashley Judd made a great mother for Tris, and Maggie Q was a perfect Tori.
  • Oh, and the music—the music was excellent. Every time an Ellie Goulding song came on, I just thought, “Yes, this is perfect.” I’m kind of thinking about purchasing the soundtrack…or maybe an Ellie Goulding CD!
  • The feeling and tone of the film was spot on. It was exciting—it was romantic—it was fast-paced. I sat in my chair and smiled for most of the film, but I also teared up when Tris and Caleb decided to leave their parents and Abnegation (even though I knew it was going to happen!), and I was on the edge of my seat whenever people had to jump on or off the trains (they were moving a lot faster than I imagined in the book!).

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes:

Yes, there were plenty of changes between the book and the film version. jeaninematthewsKate Winslet’s character Jeanine Matthews certainly got a lot more screen time and lines than the character in the book does. This especially comes into play at the end of the film when Tris slams a knife through her hand. That seemed like a pretty major change to me. However, it certainly sets Jeanine up as the villain (perhaps pounded that into our heads too much…), and the audience fully understands how much Erudite wants to keep the faction system and be the leaders.

Besides Will, Al, Christina, and Peter, the other initiates weren’t really given names. Edward is listed in the cast of Divergent on IMDB, but I didn’t really notice anyone being called Edward in the film. Also, Edward doesn’t end up with a fork in the eye in the film. And what about Zeke, Uriah, Marlene, Lynn, Cara, Susan, and the rest of the gang? Will they appear in Insurgent, or has the cast been trimmed down?

The Take Away

Go see Divergent! Books are always changed when adapted to film—but this one was done well. It kept the integrity of the film and the cast does a superb job with the characters we’ve all grown to love so much.

How about for you?  Does Divergent get a yay or nay?

Entry #19 – Favorite Author:

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Entry #19 – Favorite author:  What author do you gravitate towards in the bookstore or library?  Which author can you not get enough books from?  Or maybe they’ve only written one book, but it changed your life.

Growing up, my very favorite author would have to be Caroline B. Cooney.  This past summer, I decided to send a piece of fan-mail to this author who was an important part of my life.  I don’t know if she actually read my letter or not, but I thought it was important to express my thanks for her novels.  Check out a bit of the letter I sent:

I picked up The Face on the Milk Carton in middle school and became a Caroline B. Cooney fan for life.  “Cooney” was the first bookshelf I always checked at the library or bookstore, and I voraciously read your body of work.  I realize now how lucky I was to have parents who valued reading and were able to fund my book habit.  I have read at least 40 of your titles and personally own 30 of the books.  I remember ordering some of the trickier to find titles on e-bay when I was in college.  I also have The Face on the Milk Carton starring Kellie Martin and Edward Herrmann recorded on VHS!

Besides The Face on the Milk Carton series, some of my favorite books are The Time Travelers Quartet, Driver’s Ed, and The Terrorist. I enjoy your books because of the slightly-unusual character names, the fast-paced and suspenseful action, and the relatable main characters.  I’ve never seen my own face on a milk carton, stolen a stop sign, handled smallpox scabs, or traveled back in time, but for some reason, I believe what the characters are doing and feel for them.  I cheer them on when they make good choices and groan when they do the wrong thing.  Your books provided the adventure I needed in my life.

Even though I am now twenty-seven years old, I still enjoy picking up your books.  In fact, I just read Three Black Swans and Code Orange this summer.  It has taken me fifteen years to send this piece of fan-mail, but I wanted to let you know how much I admire you as an author.  I will continue to recommend your books to my friends and students.

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As an adult, I still gravitate towards Young Adult Literature, so I admire authors like Ally Condie, Kristin Cashore, Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins, Carrie Jones, and Marissa Meyer.  When it comes to more “grown up” books, I’m a fan of authors Steve Berry, Katherine Neville, Paullina Simons, and Gillian Flynn.  The biggest bummer is finding an author I really like, and then discovering that the author has only written one book!

Who are your favorite authors?

No Love for Allegiant

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****Spoilers****

****Stay away if you haven’t read Allegiant and plan on reading it someday!****

****For real!  Scroll past if you haven’t read it yet!****

This may come as a surprise considering how highly I’ve spoken of Veronica Roth’s Divergent and Insurgent, but I did not love Allegiant.  Gasp!  How could that be?!  I’ve been waiting to read this novel for a long time and it did not live up to my expectations.  Here are some issues I had with the book:

  1. The tone of the book never felt right.  It did not have the energized feeling that the previous books had.  I think this had something to do with the switching narratorsDivergent and Insurgent are both written from Beatrice’s point of view.  In Allegiant, Tris and Tobias take turns with the chapters.  I found myself constantly going back to the chapter heading to see whose point of view I was reading from.  This shows me that the character’s individual voices were not flushed out.  Perhaps the ending of the novel is the reason why this had to be done, but it just didn’t work for me.
  2. Four’s character became a ninny.  I raved about Four in my literary crush post.  I was drawn to his quiet strength, ability to lead, and composure under pressure.  But in Allegiant, he immediately believes he is “damaged goods” and loses sight of the amazing relationship he has with Tris.  Instead of actively figuring out what to do next or how to create a better life for himself and Tris now that they know the truth, he mopes around the compound feeling sorry for himself, neglecting his friends.  I lost some respect for his character.
  3. The ebb and flow of the book was dullDivergent was thrilling because the world Roth created was so fascinating.  I wanted to know about the factions and how they worked.  I was enthralled by the initiates’ daily lives.  I loved watching the relationship blossom between Tris and Four.  The ending was suspenseful and I wanted to know what would happen in the next novel.  In Insurgent, a war kept me eagerly turning the pages to see what would happen next.  It was so exciting, and at times, heartbreaking.  I had high hopes for Allegiant—what would life be like outside the fence?  What adventure would Tris and Four experience next?  Well, it was…an old airport full of scientists…a compound full of fluorescent lights…people brainwashed into believing genetic purity was what would solve all the Earth’s problems.  Tris, Four, Christina, Cara, Uriah, Peter, and Caleb spend their days wandering around the compound, unsure of what to do with their time.  They don’t seem to communicate much with each other, and their group falls apart.  The big secret outside the fence was a huge disappointment.
  4. I felt a lack of emotion when the main character died.  Considering my love for Divergent and Insurgent, I should be pretty attached to Tris, right?  I admire her bravery, ability to read people’s intentions, and willingness to make hard decisions.  I should have cried, or at least teared up when Tris is shot and dies.  Maybe I felt a lack of emotion because I didn’t really believe that she had died, but I don’t think that’s it.  I was assuming that someone important would die in this novel.  Although, I thought that it was going to be Four.  I actually think Roth was brave in killing off her main character.  Collins doesn’t kill off Katniss; Rowling doesn’t kill off Harry; clearly, Roth took a chance here.  But it makes sense—with all the dangerous things the characters do, it makes sense for someone to die.   It’s like in movies when there’s a shootout and no one ever gets shot.  How can they release so many bullets without hitting anyone?  Roth, rather boldly, killed off her money maker!  In response to reader outcry, Veronica Roth blogged, “In each book [Tris] tried to emulate her parents’ sacrifice, and in each book she didn’t seem to understand what that sacrifice really was, until Allegiant. And it’s only in Allegiant, when she had a strong sense of identity, when she had a keen understanding of what she (and her parents) believed about selflessness, that her journey was over.”  This explanation makes senses to me, but why wasn’t I more upset about the loss of Tris’s character?  Other readers were so upset by it that they petitioned to have Allegiant rewritten!  It doesn’t seem like the author who wrote Divergent was the same author who wrote Allegiant.  I was more saddened by Al’s death than by Beatrice’s.  Something is wrong there.

While Divergent and Insurgent will continue to be two of my favorite reads, Allegiant will, unfortunately, not be on the list with them.  Ho hum…what a disappointment.  

For you other Divergent fans out there, what did you think of Allegiant?

Entry #15 – Re-read:

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Entry #15 – Re-read:  This is a book that you have read more than once.

As an English teacher, I’ve re-read my fair share of books.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve read Romeo & Juliet, The Outsiders, The Miracle Worker, or Holes.  When it comes to reading for pleasure rather than for lesson planning, I tend to shy away from re-reading.  There are so many books I want to read that I don’t have time to re-read.  I don’t have the tattered book that I carry with me everywhere and read once a year.  Despite this, I was surprised at the growing list of books that I have re-read.

rereadbooks1. The China Garden by Liz Berry……Read 5 times

This title is always my response when I’m asked what my favorite book is.  I’ll talk about it more in a later post.  All you need to know now is that it’s wonderful…and I kind of want to re-read it again soon!

2. The Giver by Lois Lowry……….Read 4 times

This is a Young Adult classic.  I used it with my seventh graders last year, but I’ve also read it plenty of times on my own.  I love the world of “sameness” that Lowry has created and Jonah’s realization that his world is not as perfect as he once thought.  It’s the original dystopian novel.

3. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger………….Read 2 times

Don’t we all wish we could travel through time?  In Niffenegger’s novel, she shows readers a darker side to time travel through the romance of Henry and Clare.  Cool fact: Niffenegger is not only a talented writer (she wrote the creepy novel Her Fearful Symmetry, too), but she’s also an artist.  She creates stories and artwork for visual and graphic novels.  See some of her work for the story Raven Girl here.

4. Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth…Read 2 times

It should be no surprise from my previous posts that I adored Divergent and Insurgent.  I took a break from reading during November to focus on my NaNoWriMo novel, but I wasn’t very good at staying away from books!  I told myself, “I’ll just re-read Insurgent so I’ll be ready to read Allegiant…” and then I decided I might as well re-read Divergent too!  I was pleased to discover they were just as good as I had remembered.

5. The Terrorist by Caroline B. Cooney……………Read 2 times

Cooney was my favorite author as a teen.  I read The Face on The Milk Carton and became hooked on Cooney’s ability to create believable teen characters who were going through crazy things like discovering they had been kidnapped, or might have unleashed smallpox on the world from an old scab in a book, or traveled back in time.  Her books were short and could be read quickly.  I always made a beeline for the “C” shelf at Barnes & Noble, eager to pick out another one of her novels.  Even as an adult, I wander over to the shelf to find out if Cooney has written anything new.  I recently re-read The Terrorist on my Kindle Fire.  Even though the book was published in 1997, the subject matter (a kid from an international school in London is killed by a bomb) still feels relevant.

How about you?  What books do you find yourself re-reading?

Entry #11 – Literary boyfriend:

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Entry #11 – Literary boyfriend:  Oh, _____? That’s just my literary significant other. All the cool kids have one. Share which character has stolen your heart!

I’ve read many books in my twenty-eight years of existence, so there have been many a character that has made my heart swoon—from Edward Cullen of Twilight (before the movie came out, anyway!), to John Tyree from Nicholas Sparks’ novel Dear John, and the motorcycle-riding bad boy Mark from Liz Berry’s The China Garden

But my most recent literary crush would have to be Four from Veronica Roth’s Divergent series.  If you have to ask why Four is crush-worthy, than you probably haven’t experienced Divergent or Insurgent yet (*I still need to read Allegiant, so no spoilers please!).  It was clear from the beginning that Tris and Four were meant for each other.  He watches out for her and keeps her safe, even when she doesn’t realize it.  He gives Tris her space and recognizes that she needs her own friends and a chance to prove herself.  His quiet but strong demeanor draws Tris, and readers, to him.  He’s a leader, but leads more by example than by force.  He’s logical and does what needs to be done, but he has a heart and can be gentle too.  This balance of strength and composure make him seem like a great boyfriend.       

I’ve seen the trailers for the Divergent film and I’m a little worried about the actors chosen to play Tris and Four.  They aren’t quite what I pictured, but I’m hopeful that the film will do the books justice.  I’d love to hear who your literary crushes are.  Post below if you’re willing to share.

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Other notable literary crushes:

  • Alexander from The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
  • Po from Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • Brigan from Fire by Kristin Cashore

 

*I know, I know, I said I would read it a long time ago, but long story short, someone tried to use my credit card at a bunch of places.  That means I couldn’t order the book through Amazon and then I had to wait for a replacement card and I just haven’t hooked up my new credit card to the account yet.  I’ll read Allegiant soon, I promise.