Book review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

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I could write an entire novel about all the problems I had with Allegiant. It’s hard to say what the worst thing was for me. The writing? The (lack of) plot? The characters? The lazy explanations of everything the last two books were built upon? The disastrous ending? I’m not really sure. Whatever it was, something about this book really got to me, and not in a good way. I literally want to go back in time to prevent myself from buying Divergent. THAT IS HOW MUCH IS DISLIKED THIS BOOK.

What I thought I was going to get is so different from what I actually got that I don’t even know what to think.

Ok, so let me break down all the problems I had with this book.

1. The writing. The first thing you’ll notice upon picking up this book is that that the book is no longer told from Tris’s point of view. She and Tobias alternate perspectives throughout the book, usually every other chapter. As if this isn’t confusing enough, given that the last two books in the trilogy were written from only her perspective, it turns out that she and Tobias have exactly the same voice. Sometimes I actually had to flip back a couple of pages to see who was narrating the chapter because I thought it was Tris, then she’d refer to herself in the third person and I realized I was reading a Tobias chapter. It’s not so bad when they’re together, but it’s so confusing when they’re off doing their own things. Tobias will be out doing something rebellious and then the chapter ends and we’re in a lab somewhere with Tris and Caleb. It’s very disorienting and really detracts from the story.

I also can’t think of any other books I’ve read, at least in recent memory, where the writing style changes mid-series. Typically you would pick one style and hang onto it throughout the entire series, but for some reason, Veronica Roth and her editors saw no problem with changing something that major. Allegiant gets to do whatever it wants, it seems. After all, the series picked up so much press and so much hype that it was bound to sell a huge amount of books regardless of the writing. Honestly, the change to the writing style should have been my first clue as to how terrible this book was going to be.

2. The (lack of) plot. At 526 pages, Allegiant is a fairly big book. It has a fair amount of side characters, who you might think would serve some purpose other than being conveniently there, but no. There are some pretty big conflicts going on, so you would think something would actually happen. Well, I’ve read books a quarter of the length with twice as much action.

Tris and Tobias narrate everything. They describe the trees and the windows and the roads and the kisses and the labs and the hallways and the clothes and literally everything that happens to them. They describe how they’re feeling and why they’re feeling that way and how it relates back to something totally irrelevant that happened before. They describe each other in such minute detail that I can only imagine all these descriptions only serve to increase the page count of the book.

3. The characters. I thought Tris was pretty cool in Divergent. I could not stand her in Insurgent. She’s better inAllegiant, having finally figured out her life and taken a good look at her choices, but she’s still not back to her former self. Tobias, on the other hand, has somehow devolved from the strong leader he used to be into an easily manipulated, petty, jealous teenager. Tris warns him not to trust Nita, but she’s pretty and intriguing, so he’ll risk everything to join her cause. He does stupid, stupid things that he would never have advocated in the previous two books just because some jerk in a lab told him he’s “genetically damaged.”

In the prologue, a full two and a half years later, you might think he’d be back to his normal self, but no. Remember when he used to go through his fear landscape for kicks? [spoilers removed]  And worse than that, he’s completely forgotten his roots and has gone into politics. WHAT?

The side characters lose any semblance of importance they may have formerly had. I’m pretty sure Christina was important in the first two books, but in Allegiant, she just kind of hangs around in the background, only being mentioned occasionally so that we remember that Tris used to have a life before all this conflict. Cara should have had more of a plot than she did, with everything she’s been through, but she really just popped up whenever Tobias needed comforting or someone to talk to. Peter, who used to be a huge antagonist, pretty much just falls into the shadows, only to show up toward the end [spoilers removed]. Tris’s mom starts off as a sort of main character in the book, but once her purpose has been served, she’s thrown to the side as well. The only characters that reliably have a plotline are Tris, Tobias, and Matthew, a new character who works in the Bureau’s lab.

4. The lazy explanations of everything the last two books were built upon. One of my biggest pet peeves when I’m reading a book is inaccurate science. I am, of course, able to suspend some disbelief when I’m reading. I get that this isn’t our society, that we’re however many hundreds of years in the future, that things are different. But when your explanation for why things are different is “because science did stuff,” and you can’t provide a description of how that makes a bit of sense, I can’t take you seriously anymore. Read on for Veronica Roth’s attempt to explain the factions.

[spoilers removed]

5. The disastrous ending. [obvious spoilers removed]

Let me give you one piece of advice. Don’t read this book. If you’re considering reading the Divergent series, don’t. It’s not worth it. Divergent isn’t particularly well-written, but at least it’s fun. Insurgent is a terrible book, but at least when I read it, there was hope of redemption in Allegiant. But Allegiant takes that hope and shatters it, relying only on hype and not plot to sell books. Don’t waste your time.

Final rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Click here to read my original, spoilerific review.

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