THIS POST WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Several months ago I read, and then recommended to anyone who would listen to me, a trilogy of books by Veronica Roth. The first two were titled Divergent and Insurgent. The third, unreleased until today, is called Allegiant. I fell in love with the first two books. They were engaging and I couldn’t put them down. I read them for the first time in July and have since re-read them at least 3 times. I loved the premise and I was waiting on tenterhooks for the release of Allegiant. The promise of the first two books left me with high hopes for the third.
I had Allegiant preordered for my Kindle so it automatically downloaded over night. I spent today reading it. I finished around 5 pm.
I cannot contain my rage.
The story picks up shortly after the end of Insurgent, things are in flux, and the society has learned what they believe to be the true purpose of their existence. Events move forward such that Tris and Tobias leave the city to discover what they can of life past the boundaries of their society and to determine if the Divergent really are the supposed saviors of mankind.
They discover that their society is nothing more than an elaborate and long-term scientific experiment meant to heal “genetically damaged” people by re-creating a “genetically pure” population – the Divergent – and thus repair the damage caused by the so-called Purity War.
Read the book; that’ll make more sense when you do.
Tris and Tobias also work through their problems to come back to the relationship they shared in Divergent. This was a relief to see as they were constantly getting in each other’s way, as far as the relationship was concerned.
And then, like some bad horror flick where the girl who gets down with the sexy times is ALWAYS the first one to die, Veronica Roth killed Tris.
As an aside, these books are written in first-person narration. That narrator is Tris. Basically, Roth killed the one character absolutely ESSENTIAL to telling the story. She gets around this by spending Allegiant flipping back and forth between Tris’ and Tobias’ points of view. Once Tris dies, she completes the story from Tobias’ perspective.
What enrages me most about this is that it was ABSOLUTELY UNNECESSARY from a storytelling standpoint. The book would have been just as powerful – possibly more so – had she made a different plot choice and sent Caleb, Tris’ brother, into the situation that killed Tris. She didn’t need to kill Tris to make her point. It’s clear that she only did it because it meant she could say that she was brave enough to go THERE with her writing.
But it’s not brave if it serves no purpose and I am absolutely convinced that this plot point served no purpose. It’s lazy writing. It was like reading someone’s first draft – that point when they’re trying to figure out exactly how they wanted the story to proceed. Had I been Roth’s editor, I would have sent her manuscript back with a scathing note telling her that killing Tris was shitty writing and to fix it.
Also, Roth just screwed herself out of millions. They’ve made Divergent into a movie and it’s coming out in March of 2014. I know that I was really looking forward to seeing it as were other friends who had read the books as well. Well, I ask you, who is going to want to spend money to see a movie in which they know that the main character is doomed to death by the end of the trilogy? Well done, Veronica. You’ve doomed your movie to immediate flop.
This book could have been so much more. It could have sent its message that we mend one another from the difficult times in our lives just as easily – and likely more powerfully so – had Tris lived. Realism is one thing but fiction is still escapism; it is still a place where we want a “happy” ending even if that ending is accompanied by collateral damage. Allegiant didn’t give us that. It gave us a lazy writer’s climax and a fumble fingered denouement that left me feeling angry and unsatisfied. Strangely, I keep hoping that this is some kind of cosmic joke – that they accidentally released a draft version instead of the real one – and it will all be fixed.
It won’t be. I know that. But I can’t think of a single other novel I’ve read in all my years of devouring books that left me so rage-filled by the last page. Sad? Yes. Wishing for more? Yes. Feeling the impact for days? Yes.
Rage at the author? Never.
Thanks, Veronica. You ruined a good thing.