Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Allegiant Featuring Spoilers

by Veronica Roth
Katherine Tegan Books, 2013
Audience:  Grades 8 to 12
ISBN:  9780062024060
Publication Date: October 22, 2013

After the bullets stopped flying in book two, book three opens with the factionless in charge.  But giving up on the old system does not sit well with everyone.  A small band of loyal faction followers, called the Allegiant, begin to take shape just as Tris, Tobias, and several of their Dauntless friends decide to travel outside the city and see what exists.  They find a compound for the Bureau of Genetic Welfare and discover that their whole lives, and those of their ancestors, have been an elaborate experiment to wipe out genetic damage.  Everything they knew-their entire society-was a lie.  As Tris is taken into the Bureau government, which her mother was also a member of, she learns about their plans for the experiment and the devastating consequences it may have.  Roth basically starts all over by writing a type of meta-dystopia and brings readers to their knees with an ending that is both shocking and sensible.  

People are mad about this book.  Really mad!  I knew that going in, and I'm sure you already knew that too, so when the ending came, I was sad, a little shocked, but not totally unprepared.  And honestly, you shouldn't be either.

But first, this book did not go well from the beginning.  This was the first book that was told by both Tris and Tobias.  I often found myself forgetting which character was the narrator as their narrative voice was too similar.  Maybe in the book it's noted by a different font?  Doubtful, but there was not enough difference for me to keep track.  I also kept wondering why we were getting Tobias' insights anyway.  

I also felt hyper aware of the author, a problem which I rarely have.  Since Tris and the gang (doesn't that make this sound like a happy sitcom, not dystopian?) left the city only to discover it has a name (Chicago) and it's kinda a big deal (knew that!), and oh, that thing with wings is called a plane (!), it felt like Roth was going backwards and starting at her world building all over again.  Although instead of building a new world, she was trying to recreate the old one (our current world-before the Purity Wars).  It just seemed a little contrived all the of Chicago references that Roth was inserting in the story this time.  Like when formula fiction books about trust fund babies work in needless details about Manhattan.  Whatever the reason, it came off as condescending.  

Again, the plot seemed to reset too.  Tris is now trying to overthrow the system in a new government, instead of in the city limits.  Again, we have to find the rebels.  Again, we have to know who we can trust.  Again, there's one failed attempt before we get it right.  Maybe Roth took the memory serum she writes about so much and forget that this was the plot of her first two books.

But, there's more sexy times!  Hooray NA!  It's not gratuitous, but I'm betting it's enough to make for some pretty spicy fan fiction.  

SPOILERS!! If you haven't read the book yet, please go away.  I'm not trying to be mean, I'm just trying to spare you some grief.  How about you go find a nice book about cake?

In the end, the hero dies.  I won't say who, but it wasn't who I thought it was going to be, and honestly I'm happier for it (once you realize who does die, that might make me sound really mean!).  There is no happy ending for Tris and Tobias.  An big sacrifice was made and because of it, Chicago, the experiment, continued and the Bureau was reset.  There was another way, but quite frankly, a happy ending to a dystopian novel has been done to death, and this was more reasonable.  

But people are mad!  Book Riot posted an article about what author's owe fans.  Honestly, nothing.  Right now we live in a time that is brimming with fan fiction.  You don't like the ending?  Rewrite it.  Let Tris and Tobias stay together and get married and have little faction babies, and zip line over the city.  But that's not the real characters.  The real characters were always about sacrifice the way that Roth wrote them.  Either accept it or rewrite it.  Those are your choices. 

Honestly, I was let down by this book.  I thought I would get something different and instead it was just more of the same.  The allusions to Chicago didn't make me feel nostalgic for the city, rather it just annoyed me that she was name dropping landmarks in a novel set generations in the future.  But fans need to read it, and will finish it in record time because it's a plot-driven novel.  No need to read every word, just finish it and be done. 

And I'm done.  On to a slew of middle grade fiction.  Because after reading Allegiant, I need some happy.

Happy Reading!

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