Here’s the thing. I love books. If you don’t know that about me, we probably don’t know each other very well. I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember.
You should know that the best way to get me hooked on a book is to make me love the characters. I LOVE character development to the point that I can overlook poor writing and implausible plot points as long as I can root for the people driving the story along. I know it’s not sophisticated or pretty, but it’s the truth (don’t tell my publishing friends, okay?).
This year, my reading list is a bit more varied than it has been in years past (let’s face it, you’ll probably be hearing about it in greater detail later) but one book I’ve been waiting on pins and needles for was the release of Allegiant by Veronica Roth. Allegiant follows Divergent and Insurgent as the third book in the Divergent trilogy. Since I read Insurgent over a year ago, AND it ended on a cliff hanger, you can imagine my impatience to read the final book, right? Right. I put the date on my color coded work calendar (no judgement, it works for me…) and hastened my steps toward B&N during the week of release.
Although I struggled to connect with the story for the first 250 pages, I soldiered on with the faith that young Veronica could pull me back in. And this afternoon, I turned the last page.
Have you ever read a book and wished you could take it back? That’s how I feel right now. Well, that and a whole lotta anger.
I knew before I started the book that there’s been a lot of ranting online about the completion of the series. I fastidiously ignored the rumblings until I could finish the book but I now get what the big to-do was. The thing is, the part that upsets me the most about this read isn’t just the ending. If it were, I could overlook it and we could put this blog post behind us. It was the entire structure and plot development of the whole book. Here are the things that I found disappointing:
[And this is where the spoilers come in folks, so avert your eyes if you haven’t read & want to. ]
- The alternating viewpoints. Telling the story from both Tris and Tobias’ points of view was a clever idea. Because Tobias/Four is such an amazing character in the previous books, I thought getting to experience half of the book from his point of view would make me jump for joy. It didn’t, and here’s why: both Tris and Tobias’ voices in the story sounded the same. Many times I would lose track of whose chapter I was reading and the only thing that tipped me off was when they would mention the other person by name. The strength and enigma of Tobias’ character in the first two books was completely shot. He was smaller, less forceful, less commanding, and less interesting. Using this method of storytelling also diminished Tris’ voice in the story. Even though her perspective was normal to me as the reader, I didn’t care about her nearly as much. Which meant that even WITH the tragic end of the story, I didn’t care about the characters enough to shed a tear. And this is coming from someone who cries during American Idol.
- The “data dump”. Transitioning out of the world that the story lived in for the first two books obviously meant that somebody had some ‘splaining to do. And we, the readers, definitely wanted answers. But the answers came at my head so furiously that I felt I needed to duck. And keeping up with all the information was simultaneously confusing and repetitive. I mean, I understood the situation but instead of gracefully weaving a plot together in a cohesive and character-driven way, the author simply used new characters to spew information Hermoine-style…without the useful spells.
- Um, what? Whereas in Divergent and Insurgent Tris and Four’s relationship was built on mutual experiences, learning about the other, conversations, and the like their relationship in this book basically boiled down to approximately seven make-out scenes. Hey, guys? How about some emotional development here? (Blech.)
- The infamous ending. Okay, on some level I get it. Tris’ death at the end was very in line with her personality and previous choices. Sacrificing herself for the greater good and for the love of her brother. But what was unforgivable was leaving Tobias in such a state at the end of all their turmoil. Seriously. That was just depressing and having to endure another 50 pages was pure torture.
The thing I did like about the book were the family elements: Tris learning more about her mom and reconnecting with her brother Caleb and Tobias putting his demons with his dad behind him and heading into a relationship with his mom. This is literally the only thing that kept me from marking this as a one-star book on Goodreads.
I shake my fist at you, Veronica Roth! And I implore any author out there that decides to write a YA trilogy: please land the ending. (I’m looking at you too, Maggie Steifvater.)