SPOILER WARNING: Consider yourself fully warned that I will talk about the book in detail. In fact, I will talk about the entire series. If you have not read book one (Divergent) and two (Insurgent) then this review will spoil things.
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.
From the publisher, HarperCollins Canada
Initially I was having a lot of trouble getting into the story as each chapter switched between Tris and Tobias. Previously the narrative was all first person with Tris. This type of narration I find hit or miss, not all authors can do it successfully. The voice has to sound authentic, and the reader has to become fully absorbed in their point of view, discovering information as they do, or even seeing details the character doesn’t.
However, with the narrative shifting between Beatrice/Tris and Four/Tobias, each chapter is titled with the character name (either Tris or Tobias—both starting with ‘T’ so skimming wasn’t helpful). I often found I would get two or three pages into a chapter and get confused by some detail, comment, or encounter, and then realize I was reading a Tobias chapter not a Tris chapter, or vice versa. The two character voices were not distinct in any way, even though Tobias’ should differ drastically from the Tris we already know.
Although, the rationale between this new switching POV was made clear by the final scenes of the novel. So let’s jump right into it: the main character dies. It is rare to have an author kill off their main character, usually they miraculously survive everything against all odds (see: Harry Potter, Katniss of the Hunger Games, Frodo Baggins). The only other author I can think of who has killed of countless main characters is George R.R. Martin in the Song of Fire & Ice series; in fact, if you start caring/liking a character in A Game of Thrones, they will probably be killed soon. So I have to applaud Roth for doing what many authors will not: admitting that their main character cannot physically or feasibly survive everything.
Now, that may sound callous, but I certainly didn’t like the fact that Tris dies. In fact, I didn’t realize she actually had until a couple chapters later when they have to tell Tobias what happened. And then I started bawling like a baby—especially when Tobias/Four is first dealing with his grief. That grief and heartbreak is written so authentically and the whole scenario is handled incredibly well.
[As an aside: When did everyone switch to calling him Tobias? In the last book, when they found out his real name was Tobias, they were all shocked. Shouldn’t most/all the other characters still refer to him as Four?]
As for the plot, the premise behind their society is exposed in greater detail, and the characters face some difficult choices. I appreciated that it wasn’t all “flip a switch” solution, and the action and dialogue seem to reflect that understanding: yes, there will be a fundamental change, but the people deserve to know the truth and deal with it as a fully informed population.The book series only deals with the tip of the Revolution iceberg—but I appreciate that Roth tried to answer all the questions about the society that the first book raised: what happened before, why are things like this now, what does being Divergent really mean, and why is it only this city.
However, Allegiant still felt really rushed; there were a lot of serums and the characters kept encountering problem after problem. At times the odds of success felt insurmountable and I began to care less about the characters and outcome, which is not the intent.
The secondary characters were all a bit flat, which is often a result of the first-person narrative. They seemed like conversational tools to provide revelations and information dumps. I don’t know what to think/say about that.
I did appreciate that the epilogue is set two years later, which is a lot more explanatory than, oh say, 19 years later (I’m looking at you JK Rowling). In the epilogue we have glimpses of how the characters have developed since the incident, as well as seeing bits of society rebuilding itself. It is interesting to see how Tobias is coping with Tris’ death, as well as mentions of the society.
I found the explanations of the society much more interesting, and I wish that the books had taken a different POV all together so we could have seen more about the dystopian world and how the society operated. Overall, I think it’s a solid ending to the series. It’s not without issues, but it is certainly better than Mockingjay (with the narrator unconscious for more than half the book and never even explaining how society got this way in the first place).