not quite sure why so many young adult dystopian stories must be
presented as a trilogy. All too often I find that I love the first book,
have issues with the second book, and get angry with the third book
(see my reviews for The Hunger Games books, for example [click on the
Veronica Roth's Divergent series follows a similar pattern. In my review of book one, Divergent, I praised Roth's world building, plotting, and characters. I was especially taken with the main character, noting "Tris is one tough, smart young woman, but her weaknesses make her human and win our hearts."
In my review of book two, Insurgent, I wrote "I was pleased that Roth continued to develop Tris's world, introducing additional characters and showing us surprising aspects of individuals we thought we already knew." But I was also disappointed that the teen was becoming obsessed with her love interest, Tobias, and was beginning to show signs of what I refer to as the Bella syndrome (from the Twilight trilogy).
So I approached Allegiant, out last week, with realistic expectations. In the end, I enjoyed it but felt it didn't live up to the potential promised in the first book. Here are my thoughts in Bullet Review form, with minor spoilers for the first two books only.
- What's it all about? Tris, Tobias, and their friends and family live in futuristic Chicago. People have been divided into groups based on their primary personality trait, such as honesty, selflessness, and violence. In the wake of a bloody rebellion, our heroes decide to go outside the city limits and take their chances with whatever they find. What they discover makes them realize they've been isolated from the true government and from the world at large. They immediately take action to promote their personal beliefs in light of what they've learned.
- What I liked: That the characters behaved in ways that were consistent with their personalities and background. The ending brought major changes for several of the characters, and I was not disappointed by anything that happened to any of them. The action was nonstop and exciting.
- What I didn't like: Tris and Tobias's relationship is as rocky as ever: one minute arguing, the next minute kissing. There was a lot happening in the world outside the city limits, so much so that I think Roth should have told this part of the story in two books. I felt the plot was rushed, and I didn't connect well to the new characters, new setting, and new factions.
- What was new: Unlike the first two books, which were told solely from Tris's viewpoint, Allegiant lets Tris and Tobias share that privilege. Unfortunately, Tobias didn't offer any insights that we couldn't have gotten from Tris. If I had been the developmental editor, I would have suggested that Roth give Tobias a stronger individual voice or perhaps use a different character to share the narrative text. It would have been interesting to see events through a fresh perspective.
- Note on the audiobook: The unabridged audiobook edition (Harper Audio; 11 hr, 51 min) was read by two narrators. Emma Galvin returns to the trilogy to read Tris's chapters. As before, I have nothing but wonderful things to say about her work. Tobias's chapters were read by Aaron Stanford, who did an adequate job, although he was not as strong as Galvin. If you are on the fence about listening to or reading Allegiant, I suggest reading because I found the transition between Galvin and Stanford to be somewhat jarring.
Source: bought (see review policy)
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