Monday 4 November 2013

Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth.

Product details:
Publisher: Harper Collins.
Hardcover, 526 pages.
Release date: October 22nd 2013.
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Series: Divergent  #3.
Other Books in Series: Divergent, Insurgent.
Overall Series Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

One choice will define you.

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

*Note: This is pretty much a spoiler-free review for Allegiant, but there may be spoilers for previous books in the series in this review.

Insurgent ended with a bang in the form of a shocking revelation that brought Tris Prior’s faction-based society to its knees. In the opening pages of Allegiant, the third and final installment in Veronica Roth’s crazy-popular Divergent series, we are introduced to a whole new world; a world without factions, a world where betrayal is rife, where tensions simmer barely beneath the surface, a world where revolution is inevitable. But where if there was a way out? What if you found out that your whole world was a lie? It’s a game changer, right? And, so, for Tris and Four all bets are off. The rules have been re-written.  There is a world beyond the fence, and that world is about to be explored.

Welcome to Allegiant.

Guys, I can’t tell you how excited I was to read this book. And then I was scared. Because my copy of Allegiant arrived almost a week after release and I had already seen a lot of not-so-great and some downright damning Goodreads ratings. Eeek! What’s with all the one-star ratings?!  That, of course was before I had to impose a Goodreads/Twitter time-out upon myself because of spoiler-fears. What is it with this book and spoilers? Jeez. I know a bunch of people who have had this book ruined for them, and that is not cool because some major, and I mean MAJOR things happen in Allegiant. Thankfully, I avoided all spoilers. Also, I needn’t have been scared, because I thought Allegiant was awesome. I loved it. Okay, Allegiant, just like its predecessor Insurgent (hello plot-holes and underdeveloped characters) is not perfect –let me say that straight off. But it’s so much fun. And it takes risks. Boy, does it take risks.  I loved that. I love that this series completely sidesteps everything I don’t like about YA; predictable love-triangles, followed by predictable HEA’s. None of that here. This is dystopian fiction. And boy does it act like it.

So, we’re beyond the fence. Or, rather, Tris and Four, Christina and a couple more of their former faction buddies have made it over the fence in search of the truth and a better life. But, is life beyond the fence all that it seems, or is it just another world, different from their own, but similarly built upon a shaky foundation of secrets and lies? No such thing as a perfect world, after all. I’m not going to delve too far into the plot here in case of spoilers, but here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll be reading about: There are revelations. There is jealousy. There is Science. And genetics. There are explosions, guns and lots of lies from shady characters. Also, Four learns something about himself that might just change the way he feels about himself and everyone around him forever. Wow!

Let me address the character of Four in this book. Actually, he’s mostly referred to as Tobias here since the factions no longer exist and all, but I’m in the habit now of calling him Four. However, here, he is very much Tobias. If you didn’t already know, Allegiant is narrated not just by Tris, as in previous books, but also by Four. And the depiction of his character here has garnered a mixed response from fans. Four has always been mysterious; an enigma. He’s the strong, silent and steady type. Until now, we’ve only known the Four of Dauntless, the brave, confident, leader. We’ve never been inside his head before, and Four’s inner monologue is very different than what I expected it would be.  He surprised me, and at first I really wasn’t sure about the direction that Roth was taking with his character, or, in fact, if she was remaining true to his character, but then, little by little, I really started to understand exactly what Roth’s intention was here. If you didn’t like Four’s narration in Allegiant, or if you walked away from the book thinking that was not the Four you know and love, think again. And think about all that the character has been through. Think about his upbringing. Think about what happened to make him second-guess himself. Think about what happened to him and why he feels like he can’t put his real self on display to the world. Until now, Tris is the only one who has seen the real Tobias. But now we get to see him too.

Ah, Tris and her Tobias. I love these guys. They are so freakin’ hot together. Here’s something you might like if you’re a shipper:

“His fingers slide into my hair, and I hold onto his arms to stay steady as we press together like two blades at a stalemate. He is stronger than anyone I know, and warmer than anyone else realize; he is a secret I have kept, and will keep, for the rest of my life.”

        Veronica Roth, Allegiant.

I know, I know, this review is veering towards super long territory already. Stick with me, guys!

In the world of YA female protagonists, Tris Prior is a breath of fresh air; strong and brave, and with a great sense of what is right, I’ve rooted for Tris right from the start of this series. And, here, she shines. Where Four falters in the new world, Tris is steadfast, and when dark truths start to come to light, Tris is determined to do what’s right. Oh, and I wanted to share this quote that Veronica Roth says inspired the character of Tris:

“My will is mine...I shall not make it soft for you.” – Aeschylus, Agamemnon.

Perfect. So perfect for Tris.

Allegiant is a brutal book.  It is heartbreaking in places. It left me kind of down in the dumps, I’m not going to lie, and I had to take a few days to ponder it before I could pick up another book and start reading again. But, that’s great. That’s what good books should do. They should make you think. And feel. And, sometimes, they should make you cry.  Allegiant ticked all of these boxes for me, and I commend Veronica Roth for going where she did with this book. She is Dauntless, and this was a great ending to what is a truly epic series. I can’t wait for the movie already! I just know it’s going to be a good one.

I miss Tris. I miss Four big time. I miss Christina too, because for all I said in my Insurgent review about the lack of secondary character development, I felt like I really got to know Christina here. She and Tris have a great friendship; loyal and honest throughout. There’s a whole bunch of great stuff with Tris and her brother Caleb too, which made me realize a whole lot of things and write a whole paragraph on themes of love in this book; familial love, selflessness and the power of maternal love. I’m maybe thinking that I should just go and write a thesis on this book because I also had a bunch of stuff written about genetics that I don’t have room to go into here. I think the nature versus nurture debate even popped up in my notes at one point. And I’ve gone way over my word count for this review.

Bottom line: it looks like readers are really divided over this book, but for me, there was so much to love. And I loved it all. Go read. Enjoy.  And, most of all: be brave.

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