Sunday, June 22, 2014

76. "Allegiant" by Veronica Roth

***Spoiler Alert***

This review contains spoilers

Roth, Veronica. Allegiant. Katherine Tegen Books, 2013

523 pages

Reviewed by J. d’Artagnan Love

In Roth’s final book in the Divergent series, plot holes abound. I didn’t enjoy this one and not for the way it ended, although the ending was lazy and juvenile. My points of contention are as follows:

1. Bad point of view shifts: In Allegiant, Roth attempts to switch the point of view between Tris and Tobias. She failed….horribly. When using two separate points of view, a writer needs to make the narration different in each POV so readers can distinguish between characters. Tris and Tobias’ voices are identical. The only way a reader can tell the difference between the characters are by the convenient chapter titles indicating who is narrating. Sometimes there was a telling context clue to indicate the narrator, but the voice and narration style was identical. IDENTICAL.

2. Suspension of disbelief can only go so far. There were some serious plot holes. A few plot holes here and there and readers can typically suspend their disbelief to make the story work. Suspension of disbelief can only go so far before the story falls apart. The most egregious plot holes are listed below, but there are others outside this list, even.

  • Plot hole #1: David. David is supposed to be inoculated against the death serum. He is the leader of this highly important governmental organization. Why would he not have also been inoculated against the memory serum?
  • Plot hole #2: The government is supposed to be highly organized and scientifically sophisticated. They are sophisticated enough to add and remove genes. Supposedly by removing certain genes they created genetically damaged people, so instead of using their incredible gene technology to fix the problem, they decide to wait a couple centuries to see if it will magically cure itself. Are we supposed to believe that in several centuries' time, they aren't still advancing the genetic science used to remove the genes in the first place? This plot is hasty, lazy and illogical.
  • Plot hole #3: The government used memory serum on the Chicago population to start the gene program. The study falls apart when factions turn against one another, violently wiping out the divergent populations that the government seeks to preserve. So to solve the problem they decide to re-set the population’s memory….because that worked so well the first time. Riiiiiight.
  • Plot hole #4: The ending, according to a blog written by Veronica Roth, was meant to show how Tris chooses Abnegation values over all others. This is a nice thought, BUT it completely erases the entire point of what it means to be divergent. Divergent means that people are able to make choices based on several skill sets and critical thinking skills. They aren’t locked into the patterns of thought that define their factions. If Tris was truly as special and as “genetically healed” as she was described to be, she should be able to think of a creative way to overcome the situation with David without sacrificing herself in the process. The idea of being divergent is something I actually really liked about the series, but this sloppy ending annihilated the entire concept.

3. Poor development of periphery characters. Several periphery characters die in Allegiant: Tori, Uriah, etc. The problem with this is that character deaths are only an effective writing device if the reader is somehow attached to that character. The lack of development in these periphery characters creates a “meh” reaction when they die. It makes their deaths a quick way to tie a neat little bow around their story arc without having to put much creative thought into it.

4. Four. In the first two books, Four/Tobias is a brash, hard, brave leader of the dauntless. He's mature and makes intelligent decisions. In Allegiant he becomes a weepy, fearful, indecisive man-boy. The problem with this is that the change is abrupt. There is no transition or progression that would constitute, you know, character development. The transformation is instead instantaneous with no trigger. This version of Four is far less appealing than the Four of the previous books and serves little purpose in moving the story arc. If Roth was trying to show vulnerability in his character, it could have been done without making him an entirely different person. 

Often, I can redeem books I don’t like by feeling entertained regardless of the weaknesses. I could do that with Divergent and maybe even Insurgent, but I can’t do that with Allegiant. I don’t recommend reading this book. The only reason I can give for picking it up is so one will know how the series ends, but honestly, watch the movie instead. It will probably be better.

1 dart out of 5

Bookshelf Project Status: Return to library

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