Thursday, January 30, 2014

Review of Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Katherine Tegen Books
by Veronica Roth
1 Scribble

I must preface this negative review with the disclaimer that I was blown away when I read Divergent, the first in the Divergent trilogy.  Insurgent, the second novel in the Divergent trilogy, was pleasing, although I was disappointed that Tris cried a bit too much and too easily for such a tough gal. That being said, I am sorely disappointed with this third novel in the series. As I surmised after reading book two, could it be that editors and publishers are rushing Ms. Roth to publish, thus damaging her ability to produce work equal to or better than Divergent?
My first complaint is that characterization is vastly different in this installment. First off, there seem to be many, many characters, most of them minor, and most of them I could care less about. I started to lose track of them all and just shrugged it off, because even halfway through plodding along, I was not emotionally invested in any of them. Secondly, I was a little jolted by the dual-narration. Changing perspectives is a great way to enrich a novel and reveal more about characters in the story, but alternating points of view between Tris and Four simply didn’t work for me. Yes, I learned more about Four, but what I learned was disheartening. It seems Four isn’t the self-assured, tough-guy-who-masks his weaknesses with a razor-sharp edge. He’s actually sort of a dark, brooding weenie. Before he didn’t trust anyone, except Tris, and now it seems that he doesn’t trust Tris, the girl he supposedly loves more than life itself. Instead, he trusts others, as evidenced by the fact that he’s quick to lie to Tris and join an uprising without her knowledge.  Sorry, but the Four I know would never do this. Tris is different in this novel too. It’s like she is the most self-righteous harpy I’ve ever read, and then mid-stride she totally loses her moral compass and decides murder is okay if the reason is good enough. Ends justify the means? What?  In fact, despite all the face-smashery between Tris and Four, the two don’t even seem to really like each other much even though they are in love. Do they love each other out of habit?
The themes in the novel are all worthy, but not at all subtle. Of course, the violation of civil rights via genetic engineering is blaring, the prejudice against genetically damaged individuals is there, the nature-versus-nurture aspect is touched upon and of course everyone is living in a sad, fishbowl of a society with virtually no freedoms. Did I hit every theme on the dystopian blueprint? If I missed mentioning one, it’s in the novel—no worries. And while I appreciate this attempt at getting the reader to contemplate societies’ ills, the themes don’t creep into the consciousness via story rather they jump up and smack the reader full on in the forehead and scream “pay attention!”
I’m not going to delve into plot a great deal. The bottom line is that even though the big teaser at the end of book two is illuminated and an explanation given in this installment, the reader may not care a whole lot. The story and action is just all over the place. I’m not even sure if I’d call that subplottting—I sort of dragged myself kicking and screaming to the book each night the week it came out. I have waited this long to write my review, because the only thing more painful than reading the book is writing this review.  I know there were “subplots” but I don’t remember them all—in fact, I tried to forget them.
This brings me to the ending. At first blush, I felt the human sacrifice (and I won’t say more, even though I’m guessing the grand finale ending is out there already) that took place at the end was refreshing—go Roth! Take risks; be true to what might really happen; shock the reader. But then I realized the plan to save Chicago is lame and the results even worse.  The human sacrifice gets completely cancelled out by the lameness of the plan, and the fact that later, Four is able to change the minds of the two worst villains in literature, Evelyn and Marcus, with a bit of fluffy rhetoric. In light of that monumental and highly unforgiveable misrepresentation of the most evil characters in dystopian literature—why was the sacrifice made? Why was the series ever written?
My only hope is that before the movie comes out, heavy, vicious editing takes place. Perhaps even a reimagining of the original.


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