Book Review: Veronica Roth’s Allegiant

I really wanted this book to be amazing, but it just wasn’t. 😦

Allegiant is the third installment of a series about Tris. She’s wicked brave, flawed, young and trying to find her way in a post-apocalyptic U.S.

Spoilers imminent!

Positives of the series: The world building in book one was AMAZING.

In the first book, Roth managed to build tension and release it at the perfect times.

Primary Negative: No Stasis in Allegiant. Readers need stasis to begin most stories. They need to know what normal is, and they need to relax into normal. Unfortunately, there was no normal or stasis in this series after the first book. Allegiant goes from one world that’s in upheaval to a second world that’s in upheaval with very little transition for the characters or readers.

Some stasis elements built into the world that were not utilized after book 1 –> Factions/initiation… by having the factionless take over, Roth set us up for a new sort of stasis in which the factionless rule, but it wasn’t ten pages in before Tobias was working against that stasis.

Stasis was also lost because characters didn’t survive. It was impossible to keep up with the ever-changing cast. Book 2 had already confused the Hell out of me because there were SO many people dying, and it seemed like I was supposed to feel attached to them (but I couldn’t even remember who they were). I would have liked to go more in-depth with the characters I did know, like Peter. Peter had a super-satisfying story, except that I didn’t feel close enough to him.

Stasis could have also been achieved through the Tris/Tobias relationship, but they were never really at peace because they kept making inexplicably stupid choices – generally in the area of hotheaded action and distrust of the significant other.

Finally, there wasn’t even a sense of calm and normal in the Point of View. I’m not sure who thought it was a great idea to do this thing in dual perspective, but I had to keep pulling myself out of the story to make sure I was with the correct character. Their voices weren’t different enough to be able to tell just from the word choice or tone, so my brain would get stuck believing Tris was speaking when it was really Tobias. It was jarring and kept me from suspending my disbelief.

Sadly, readers were not only robbed of stasis because of the choices listed above, but they were also robbed of an anchor to the story. I didn’t ever get lost in the book because I was too lost trying to force my brain to remember characters, remember who was narrating, remember what the the Bureau (new world introduced in Allegiant), etc…

Other sorts of negatives:

Tobias seemed to be acting out of character…I thought he was cautious and smart. Book 1 AND book 2 made me believe that. However, he made at least one choice, and probably more like two choices, in book 3 that seemed really out of character for him.

Too much exposition… Around page 300, there started being a lot of, “I’m a new character and I’m explaining how this thing works.” It was one of those times when we were being told rather than shown. I’d much prefer to have learned about the fringe through Tris and Tobias’s first, uninformed and unbiased impressions rather than having a character tell me what it’s like and then having Tris confirm that they were telling the truth. What if they had somehow ended up just discovering it rather than other characters taking them there with the intent of telling them how to think about it? Also, I’d have liked to see a scene with them just eating in the Bureau and talking with folks, rather than Tris and Tobias (and readers) being told what people were like.

I doubt others took this out of it, but around page 400, I started to see the book as a bit too overtly Christian. I actually got tastes of it throughout the series, starting in book one, but it felt a little too in-my-face in Allegiant. There was a lot of talk about forgiveness and redemption, and I figured out that either Tobias was going to sacrifice himself to save Marcus or Tris was going to sacrifice herself to save Caleb. It was a Jesus archetype dying for someone who was still a sinner.

On a completely non-Christian note: why did she go with “GD” as the acronym for “Genetically Damaged?” “GD” really has a different meaning normally and I often giggled when I came across the acronym.


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