Allegiant by Veronica Roth – Review by Meredith Sizemore
Published: October 22, 2013
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Fiction, Dystopian
Audience: Middle Grade/Young Adult
In anticipation of Allegiant, the third and final book of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, my students and I did all of the following: created a daily countdown from 20, had geeky fan moments while taking quizzes to determine our faction (much to my chagrin, but not to my surprise… I am Erudite), watched the Divergent trailer on repeat, stalked Veronica Roth’s blog, and swapped predictions for the trilogy’s close. When October 22nd finally arrived, I could hardly wait to get home and find the Books-A-Million package on my doorstep containing all my hopes and fears for Tris, Four and what is left of the Dauntless faction.
Insurgent, the second book in the series, left readers heartbroken with the loss of many Dauntless characters, and cliff-hangered with the tantalizing discovery of a video about what’s “outside the fence.” There is a woman in the video named Edith Prior and readers are stuck wondering if Tris is related to her, and if so, how? Is Edith Prior still alive? Who are these people outside the fence? What did the Erudite so badly want to hide and control? Everything the novel built up to only led to this snippet of a video that author Veronica Roth dangles in front of readers’ noses like a dog biscuit. This ending left me incredibly anxious for the next book. I, like the Erudite, am a slave for information and I wanted nothing more out of Allegiant than explanations. I could live without the action—I just wanted answers.
Allegiant supplies just that.
Unlike the first two books in the series, Allegiant is a dual-narrative featuring both Tris and Four’s voices. This is a welcome change as Four became an even larger character in Insurgent and his voice provides a deeper look into the dark past that haunts him. Four’s perspective also gives readers a new view of and empathy with his rollercoaster romance with Tris.
The start of the novel is action-packed as (yet another) group of rebels forms against Evelyn, who recently proclaimed herself the new leader of the city and announced that factions were outlawed. This group calls themselves the Allegiant, and they hope to reform the factions that for so long defined them as individuals and as a city. The excitement in this part of the novel gently slopes into a long (but not uninteresting) period of dialogue and information about the world outside the fence—or what’s left of it.
Tris, Four and other Dauntless members have a difficult time adjusting to this new world outside the city, and quickly find facets of this world that irk and anger them. Four brawls with the idea of supporting another uprising, and tries to find peace with his parents and his past; Tris grapples with whether or not to forgive and trust the people she loves. The couple goes back and forth, and back and forth, in their typical but complicated teenage fashion. One chapter, they love each other. The next, they’re not speaking. Nothing new.
While I received all of the information I desperately craved in Allegiant, nothing truly surprised me until the end. I was so blind to the impending plot-twist that I actually had to re-read two chapters to ensure I read it correctly. Veronica Roth warned readers in a recent interview that the ending would be shocking. Thank you for the understatement of the century, Veronica.
Even though I was stunned by the massive turn of events, I am over-the-moon pleased with the finale. I am a huge fan of plot twists, cliff-hangers, and bittersweet (and/or horribly depressing) endings… because they are realistic. Life isn’t always fair, predictable, or has happy endings.
So why should Allegiant end happily?
Yes, one of the beautiful aspects of stories is that readers can have the warm-and-fuzzy ending that they often don’t have in real life. However, I think the beauty of life is eloquently summarized by the last few lines of the novel:
Since I was young, I have always known this: Life damages us, every one. We can’t escape that
But now, I am also learning this: We can be mended. We mend each other.
If you feel unhappy or blighted by the finish of the trilogy, I understand. But remember, all that was damaged, all that was lost can be mended. The characters live on to recover and to find happiness. And not just in the pages of a book, because the true beauty of a good story is what you make it.
There are those who may not agree with me, but I say well done, Veronica Roth, well done.
Meredith Sizemore is a second-year English teacher at Stuarts Draft High School in Virginia. When not teaching or reading, you can find her stalking new books at the Green Valley Book Fair, hiking, taking photos, and trying not to become a crazy cat lady.