There is nothing particularly offensively bad about Allegiant. It suffers from a far worse fate – a mediocre plot line which is very disappointing after a high octane first and second instalment in the series.
Allegiant is the final book in Veronica Roth’s distopian fiction series which began with Divergent (which has just been released on the big screen, and you can view our review of it here) and had Insurgent as the sequel. It follows central characters Tris and Tobias in the wake of the destruction of the faction system by the factionless and their leader, Evelyn. The reader follows the two as they go beyond the limits of their city to discover what is beyond, and the reason that their ancestors had been placed within the city by an unknown entity.
What follows is a hodge podge attempt to widen out the world established in the two previous books. The idea of characters being ‘divergent’ or outside the faction categorisations is made largely obsolete as Roth tries to explain the concept as part of wider categorisation of people, that of being ‘generically pure’ or ‘genetically damaged’ after government experiments into eradicating undesirable genes. It is more than a little unconvincing and comes out of nowhere – after two books which are all about categorising people into factions, this feels like a little bit too late to be establishing such big ideas.
There was something very compelling about Divergent and Insurgent – the plot raced along through the text and pulled the reader along with it. In comparison, this book is very static, and suffers for it. While moments of quiet can sometimes allow for action sequences to have more impact, here it dragged too much and didn’t keep the reader engaged. Revelations about the government, city and Tris’s mother should have shocked and kept the reader engaged in the political side of the story line – instead they seemed to fizzle with little impact.
Roth has never been afraid of killing off characters that are close to Tris, and for the most part these deaths have emotional impact. Perhaps it was reader’s fatigue, or a fatalistic acceptance that no character was safe, but in this book deaths seemed to loose their impact. I found myself caring less and less as the body count rose. In terms of the characters, there seemed to be a loss of dynamism in their characterisation. Tris and Tobias were no different on the surface, but yet there was still something missing their. Their arguments seemed predictable, and their resolution inevitable, which meant that it didn’t really raise the stakes in terms of their relationship. The relationship, and their characterisation just fell a little flat.
Roth certainly tries to break the mould of distopian fiction at the end of the text, and makes a brave move, which ultimately does not work. While I can understand the reasons for the conclusion to the final set piece of action, the execution of it is subpar, and in some ways results in regression in the character development of Tris.
With the recent announcement by Lionsgate that this book will be made in two films, following the trend set by the Harry Potter franchise, I can’t help but question why. It will certainly make money, but this book will hardly make for two mediocre films, let alone be as engaging as The Hunger Games or Harry Potter.
5/10 – a subpar finale to an exciting series which meant it fizzled out, rather than ended with a bang.
Allegiant is published by Harper Collins, and is available now.