Spoilers ahead, read with caution.
Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth, hit bookstores last week, causing mass hysteria on Twitter and GoodReads mere days later.
If you don’t know what the Divergent Trilogy is by now, walk into Barnes and Noble and just take a look at the posters plastered all over their walls and windows. Picture Hunger Games-level popularity. Let me fill you in.
The Divergent Trilogy is a YA dystopian set of novels written by recent Northwestern alum Veronica Roth that, in a nutshell, show us that our world is going to hell. The first book, entitled Divergent, follows the story of 16-year-old Beatrice Prior in the dystopian city of future Chicago, where society is divided into five “factions”, each of which displays an extremist virtue of humanity: Abnegation the selfless, Candor the honest, Amity the peaceful, Erudite the intelligent and Dauntless the brave. On Choosing Day, all sixteen year-olds are given an aptitude test to show them which faction they would best fit in. The teenagers are then given a choice – choose to stay in the faction they were born into (as it remains the same within families) or transfer to another faction entirely.
When Beatrice takes her aptitude test, she shows equal aptitude for not one, but three factions – Dauntless, Erudite and Abnegation, her family faction.
This means Beatrice is Divergent.
Beatrice makes a choice to leave her faction, shocking her family and friends, and joins the Dauntless, where she renames herself Tris. The battle to survive ensues, because Tris is forced to hide her divergence from the leaders of the Dauntless who are trained to kill the Divergent.
Allegiant takes place after a major cliffhanger ending of second book, Insurgent, without pausing for a breath. The book makes no effort to summarize what has just happened for those who didn’t reread Insurgent right before Allegiant, so I would highly recommend you reread at least the last few chapters or Wikipedia it, or you will be forever confused as to why Tris begins her monologue locked up in a cell with her friends. As with Insurgent, we realize the factions are useless and constraining, but Allegiant takes it to a whole new level, bringing in concerns over genealogy.
Tris and her friends decide to leave the city, believing the citizens in the world outside their own are in dire need of their help. As everything is in Roth’s series, the situation is, of course, never as it seems.
Tris and the gang end up at a place called The Bureau of Genetic Welfare headquartered in the abandoned O’Hare International Airport, where the truth about what happened to society is revealed. It is explained that the United States had been destroyed ages ago in the Purity War. The war, Tris is told, was caused by genetic manipulation of humans gone sour thanks to scientists who wanted to eradicate the worst of human behavior.
In order to regroup humanity after the war, scientists created the Bureau, which set up genetic experiments in some of the remaining midwestern cities, including Chicago. Tris’ entire life has been a lie. So, Tris and friends launch into a mission to dismantle the corrupt Bureau.
For the first time in the series, the character of Tobias gets a voice too, but his sections are extremely hard to distinguish from Tris’s; I would catch myself halfway through his chapter, realizing I had no idea whose tortured POV I was in.
To be blunt, ending Allegiant was reminiscent of the feeling I got when finished Mockingjay – bitter shock, confusion, and slight disappointment. The pace of events in Allegiant is a bit slow as the characters spend a good portion of the book getting used to life in the Bureau. Action appears out of nowhere in fits and bursts, and information is gleaned simply by the characters asking for it. Unlike the first two books in the series, Allegiant serves to explain the state of Tris’ world, not throw the reader into action, and build on Tris and Tobias’s relationship, almost as if to drive the dagger home for the finale.
Still, Allegiant proves to be an incredible read because of Roth’s ingenious character development. Those that have read the book might disagree with me on this, but I felt that Roth was brave to kill off her main character. The success of dystopian novels is largely fueled by readers rooting for the main character to live, even though they know they’ll survive somehow. Roth took it to the next level by killing off not just anyone, but Tris– something that probably has been predicted by her use of two POV’s. Tris died because of desperation and love, which is something so human that it only makes Roth’s characters more real.
The reader gets to see a more intimate side to Tobias and Tris’s relationship in Allegiant, with their scenes peppered throughout chapters; themes of love, as well as family, free will and sacrifice are all prominent, surrounding the core concept of what makes our identity. But this core isn’t new; Divergent and Insurgent both feature the hard choice between identity and faction. In Allegiant, however, Roth shows us that identity can be both.
Time Taken: For even the busiest college student, less than two days.
Worth It? Absolutely. Filled with action, heartache, shocking revelations and a message that rattles your resolve, Allegiant will leave you with your jaw dropped lower to the ground than the ending of the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones. AKA, read it now.