T.S. Eliot once wrote, “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.” And the same could be said for Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, which came to a whimpering end with Allegiant.
Though much-hyped by the publisher, with an embargoed release, midnight release parties, major media appearances, and tie-ins for the upcoming Divergent movie adaptation, the book fell flat. Much of the book’s entirety has been overlooked since its release, with the focus being on the controversial ending that has left many fans angry and upset.
But my qualms with Allegiant aren’t over the ending, which I was disappointed by but not angry about. (In context, it makes sense to me. I can see the story arc. Did I think it was a bit of a cop out? Yes. Did it make me angry? No.) My problems with Allegiant are not related to the ending. Really, I felt the book as a whole was just … blah.
When Divergent was first released, it was one of the most hyped books of the year — and though I was wary the book had been over-hyped, I gave it a try and was pleasantly delighted by how much I loved it. I felt very much that Divergent lived up to the hype. Truly, I felt the same way about Insurgent — which I actually thought was quite incredible, with the climactic twist at the end that elevated the series from teen dystopian to top-notch science fiction.
Unfortunately, the series peaked at the end of Insurgent, as Allegiant very much felt like a let-down. After two excellent books and HUGE amounts of hype, this final book disappointed in many ways.
For starters, the introduction of a second narrator felt contrived and unnecessary. (Only when the ending began to unfold did the dual voices finally have a purpose; there was no reason for them until then.) It also didn’t help that there was almost no distinction between the two voices; it was near-impossible to tell whether the narrator was Tris or Four, and I kept having to flip to the beginning of the chapter to see who was speaking in the first person.
The dual narrators also changed the scope of the story. These books have always been about Tris — even Roth said as much in her defense of the book’s ending — and yet, hearing half of the story from Four made it less about Tris’s journey. He became a central figure in the story, and it took away from the series as a whole being about Tris. She took a backseat, which given the book’s ending, really is a disservice to the story arc.
More than anything else, the story as a whole felt very underdeveloped. It meandered and twisted; certain potential subplots arose and fell away needlessly. (Did we really need a potential love triangle thrown in the mix? I think not.) Exciting moments of action were few and far between long passages of exposition and conversation. There was a lot of talking and not a lot of doing, leading to a book that — on the whole — is sub-par and lackluster compared to the first two parts of the trilogy.
Fans who have followed Tris through the first two books of the Divergent series will no doubt see her story through to the end. But whether they are disappointed in Allegiant for the same reasons as myself, or because of the ending — or if they love it (plenty have) — is up to each individual reader to decide for themselves. It is in stores now.