Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book Review #13: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I'm going to cut right to the chase. I am torn about Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I was a late adopter to the Divergent series. I read Divergent and Insurgent back-to-back around the Christmas holidays back in 2012. I eagerly awaited the release of Allegiant and so much wanted to know what was outside the City. Now that I know, I'm think I want to go back and forget I ever read Allegiant and just keep imagining what is on the other side of the chain link fence. Unfortunately, I don't own a Delorian or a T.A.R.D.I.S. so here's my assessment of the final book in the series.

Allegiant frustrated me. Several times in the first 100 to 200 pages, I wanted to throw the book across the room and scream. That's how frustrated I was. Why was I frustrated?

1. The switching narrators. I couldn't tell the difference between Tris and Tobias. There was very little difference in the style of writing when Tris was telling the story vs. Tobias. This led to a lot of rereading or flipping back to start of the chapter to figure out who was talking.

2. The passage of time. Nowhere in the first two books was there a frame of reference for when these novels take place. Somehow I got it stuck in my mind that this was happening sometime in our near future. It wasn't until one of the characters mentions that the destruction in the fringe took place over a century ago (along with how the serums were used) that one of my other frustrations was put to rest*.


My third frustration may be a spoiler. You will want to stop reading NOW if you don't want to be spoiled. And just so you know, without having to scroll further, I'm giving this book both a Thumbs Up and a Thumbs Down.
3. Everyone believes that genetic cleansing and prejudice is new. I can understand how the characters like Tris and Tobias don't know that genetic cleansing is old news, but those individuals working in the government should know it's not old news. That's why the government developed the program to alter the genetic code in the first place, right? It was an attempt to correct all that was bad with humans.

How much more powerful would the revelation have been if Nita or Matthew had pointed out, this wasn't the first time measures to "cut the wheat from the chaff" of the human race had happened? What about World War II? How about Bosnia? Or Rwanda? Or the segregation issues that lead to the civil rights movement? Or the battle for sexual equality that is happening right now? I highly doubt 100 years from now people will have forgotten any of these events. They have led to great bloodshed and amazing (and frustrating) legislative actions as well as great victories.

While actual genetic manipulation may be taking prejudice to a whole new level*, by ignoring history and not showing more of the inequality between the two groups*, the fight being waged fell flat and as a result, the event that should have moved me to tears made me shrug my shoulders.

And that leads me to the thing that I admire the most about Allegiant...the end. (Well, at least the part before Chapter 52.) Not that I didn't see the ending coming from a mile away, I was still impressed Roth ended the novel the way she did. I'm sure there are people that hated it. But you know what, life isn't all rainbows and unicorns and that's why I'm okay with it because it mirrors real life.

After all my frustrations with the switching narrators, the lack of timeframe and ignoring history, the ending redeemed the book. And that's why Allegiant gets both a thumbs down and a thumbs up.


AddtoGoodReads

Buy Allegiant from Amazon.com
Buy Insurgent from Amazon.com
Buy Divergent from Amazon.com
Buy the boxed set from Amazon.com

* Up until these two things were revealed, I couldn't figure out why all the characters from the City were SO stupid. How could they not know what an airport or an airplane were?

* My WWII/Jewish history is a bit fuzzy, but I seem to vaguely recall the Nazis tracing genetic lines and physical appearances to determine who was pure. Of course, science has advanced beyond such rudimentary observations and now we could actually splice genes in and out of the DNA to "correct" things so I'm not sure how revolutionary this actually is.

* Stories were told about the inequality or observations were made, but there were very few plot points that hinged on an action being taken against someone who was thought less of than another person. How much more powerful would the message of been if we'd actually witnessed Nita being treated unfairly? Or if someone had made a comment to Amar and George about them being so friendly?