28 October 2013

Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronic RothI'm 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 "Reviews" tab]).

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.
Published by HarperCollins / Katherine Tegen Books, 2013
ISBN-13: 9780062024060
Source: bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Sandy Nawrot 10/28/13, 7:06 AM  

So I read Divergent, and liked it well enough. I got Insurgent for my daughter the day it came out (she liked it), but haven't picked it up yet...I'm not sure why. Now with this one, I've had a couple of people whose opinions I trust greatly tell me it was somewhere between disappointing and horrid. They both said that Roth's young age is showing in the choices she made with the plot. So now I am questioning whether I want to invest any more time at all! Jury is still out...

Melissa O. 10/28/13, 7:35 AM  

I had some of the same issues you did with the plot and new characters, etc., but what ultimately ruined this book for me was the ending. I just couldn't get past that. I do agree that everyone stayed in keeping with their characters, I just don't agree that the end result had to be what it was. But that could be my problem and how I like my stories to turn out :-)

Daryl 10/28/13, 7:39 AM  

couldnt agree more, i read this last week and found myself skimming ... losing interest ...

i am now reading Incarceron which apparntly is also a trilogy ... it started slowly but now i am thoroughly enjoying it .. even tho its another twist on the Prince and the Pauper ..

bermudaonion 10/28/13, 7:55 AM  

I can't figure out why trilogies became so popular either, especially since most of the stories could be told in one volume. I generally lose interest before the last book comes out.

Swapna 10/28/13, 8:33 AM  

I totally agree. For once, I thought there should have been MORE books, not fewer. She packed way too much into this book.

Karen White 10/28/13, 9:32 AM  

My 13yo devoured Allegiant in the days after it came out. Her English class is reading dystopian literature (from Fahrenheit 451 up through these current novels) so she was excited to include this one in her list. She had a generally favorable review.
I am interested to hear thoughts on the audio version. Harper "let the audience choose" the narrator, American Idol style. An interesting new tactic. Here's an article on that from School Library Journal:

Alex 10/28/13, 9:56 AM  

I have heard this is a disappointing book and a lot of people don't like it because of some of the action. Not letting Tris tell the story the way she did in the first two books sounds like a Tobias spinoff may be in the works. Oh well, I don't think I will rush to read Allegiant. Thanks for sharing you thoughts in this review.

Col (Col Reads) 10/28/13, 10:55 AM  

I don't read much YA or Dystopian fiction, so I will probably skip this series. My daughter is thinking about it though. I'll share your review!

Laura at Library of Clean Reads 10/28/13, 12:10 PM  

I have all three books but have yet to read this trilogy.

Nise' 10/28/13, 4:47 PM  

Ugh...I've been reading more so-so reviews for the book. It is frustrating, as you say, to love the first book and not the next two. Oh well, I have low expectations going into it.

Shelley Munro 10/29/13, 4:31 AM  

Great review. I tend to agree with you about the first book being strongest in a lot of cases. I haven't read this one yet, so it will be interesting to see what I think of it.

Alice 10/29/13, 5:13 AM  

I'm not familiar with this series, but I do like how you described "love the first book, have issues with the second book, and get angry with the third book."

I loved The Hunger Games trilogy but wasn't too happy with the remaining two in the series. Like you, I loved the first one.

rhapsodyinbooks 10/31/13, 8:46 PM  

Agree with your observations. In fact, in some chapters I had to flip back to see who was talking, Tobias or Tris, because they sounded just like the other one! (I guess one wouldn't have that problem with a male and female reading the audio!)

Melissa (Avid Reader) 11/1/13, 9:55 AM  

I finished it this weekend. I liked some aspects and was disappointed in others. It's not my favorite trlogy, but I definitely wasn't destroyed by the ending like some people were. Like you said, I feel like the characters stayed true to who they were.

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