By: Veronica Roth
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.
OUCH. It's safe to say that my heart just got ripped out, but in the best way. In almost an Augustus Waters-y way. (i.e. "It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.") The storytelling in this book (and this series) is masterful. It is fraught with action and tension and character development. I think this book took this series and elevated it to a level that astounded me. The world gets more twisted, right and wrong sometimes become murky, loyalties are tested and forged. It packed the punch that I hoped would close out the series.
That will be the end of the section without spoilers. So if you haven't read or finished the book yet, turn back now.
I DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW TO WRITE THIS REVIEW.
This book blew my mind in ways that I didn't know it could. So instead of organizing this (because I'm not sure how I'd do that), I'm just going to throw some words and points at you. Yes, it will be ramble-y. You're welcome.
---The expansion of the world made real sense and changed the political situation in just the right ways to bring about a conclusive end. Adding the Genetic Welfare Department was an interesting, as well as risky, choice. It isn't easy to add such a huge unexplained element to the final book in a series without confusing the reader or the plot of the story. But Veronica Roth managed to do just that. It was explained well and early so that everyone could move on to what it meant for the overall plot.
---I appreciate that this book was worked in such a way that it wasn't just an expansion of the world for the reader, but also for the characters. The little details like that they had trouble processing that the world was so much bigger than their lives or the lives in their city or like Peter with the maps trying to compute just how small they all were in the scheme of things.
---This book tackled a whole lot of themes in a cohesive and not an overbearing way.
Prejudice was considered and addressed in the way that the "Genetically Damaged" were treated as less than the "Genetically Pure."
Bravery is, once again, discussed and displayed in an open manner that does the subject matter justice. The point is to show that there are so many different kinds of bravery. That bravery has profound consequences. That it is hard. That it hurts. That it changes us. That it requires selflessness just as surely as kindness does.
---This series is a long, in-depth look at what makes a person have the character and personality that they do. Fears, choices, parent's choices, long ago ancestors' choices, nature vs. nurture, growth and development, traumatic experiences. I think it shows that it isn't as simple as we often think to figure out why people are the way they are. In fact it's nearly impossible to count in every variable.
---I love how Veronica Roth works her faith into the book in even the smallest of ways.
"And as I stare out at the land, I think that this, if nothing else, is compelling evidence for my parents' God, that our world is so massive that it is completely out of our control, that we cannot possibly be as large as we feel."
---If Veronica Roth understands anything it is that it is lazy to make villains without redeeming qualities and heroes without flaws or consequences.
---I've heard some people remarking that the writing in this book was worse than in the other two. I completely disagree. When I was reading (and before I saw those things) I thought that the actual writing was better than that of Divergent and Insurgent. I think Veronica Roth has found and developed her voice and that it is only getting stronger.
Now I'm going to talk more directly about the characters and the plot:
Tobias: One of the many risks that Veronica Roth took was introducing a new point of view into the final book, particularly the point of view of a character we have known for so long. But this is another risk that I think paid off.
By letting Tobias tell the story, she let it become Tobias' story as well as Tris'. That was a brilliant choice for this final book because it expanded the world in the way that we needed to see it. It also put the reader in the position to understand Evelyn and her motives more than we understood Jeanine.
We see Tris through his eyes, rather than just her own and that was probably the best thing to come from his perspective. We are used to seeing Tris from her own biased perspective. She always saw herself as doing what needed go be done. But when we see from outside of her we see the truth of her bravery and her selflessness. That she is both to the extreme, or has become so through the other books.
I loved Tobias' voice. It is poetic and observant in a way that Tris' is not. I thought it was really interesting to see the compound from both of their perspectives because they noticed different things and felt different things because of that.
Tobias got much more development in this book than he got in the others. He finally had to bring up and deal with his parents and his past. I love that his fears changing was allowed to speak volumes about his character. That his fear of Marcus changed into the fear of becoming him hit me hard in the gut. It gave him realistic motivation in many of his choices and a genuineness that is truly touching. We learned to love Four for his bravery and now we were given the opportunity to love him for his fears, for his weakness.
"How many young men fear that there is a monster inside them? People are supposed to fear others, not themselves. People are supposed to aspire to become their fathers, not shudder at the thought."
"I was no longer a child, afraid of the threat my terrifying father posed to my safety. I was a man, afraid of the threat he posed to my character, to my future, to my identity."
But, of course, before he developed he had to go through some pretty heavy crap, admittedly most of it self-inflicted. He made huge mistakes that cost him so much. He failed to trust Tris and, in turn, hurt so many. Seeing him break down in the face of all that was one of the most heartbreaking things about this book. But his breakdown is so convincing only because he is an excellent character.
"I feel what I have become is halfway between my mother and my father, violent and impulsive and desperate and afraid. I feel like I have lost control of what I have become."
We've seen him as the unquestionable hero for so long, probably for too long. He became human and flawed. I think in the end we saw his character with more compassion because of his mistakes, rather than less. And that takes skill for an author to accomplish.
Christina: Such a fantastic character. She grows slowly but surely in the background of each book. She is a loyal friend to first Tris and then Tobias and I love her for it. She's not afraid to call them on their stupidity because that's that what friends do.
I also thought it was interesting to see her dynamic with her family again. Especially now that she is not Candor any more.
Uriah: He made me laugh and then he made me cry.
Zeke: I never thought all that much about him until this book. His parting with Tobias had me laughing out loud,
"...and I can't resist calling back, "I'll miss you."
"You too, sweetie."
But then I felt so bad for him and his mom about everything with Uriah. I love that he eventually could be friends with Tobias again.
Cara: Oh, I love her. She really grew on me in this book. She was a good friend to Tobias and told him the things that he needed to hear. One piece of information that struck me was when Tobias said that they had now known her longer than they knew Will. THAT HURT ME. But in truth, she helped the group get to where it needed to be and she was really brave and caring along the way. I loved this conversation,
"Cara says, 'Ignore them. They don't know wha it is to make a difficult decision."
'You wouldn't have done it, I bet.'
'That is only because I have been taught to be cautious when I don't know all the information, and you have been taught that risks can produce great rewards.' She looks at me sideways. 'Or, in this case, no rewards."
Those were the words that cemented my love for her character.
Johanna: She's a favorite of mine, for real. She kind and strong and smart. Her confrontation with Marcus had me cheering when she put him in his place.
Caleb: How do I talk about him. He's interesting because he is horrible, but he's not without his own redeeming qualities. He is a coward who let his sister die for him, but he's just scared and wanted to cling to life. He's so smart and analytical, but he fails to analyze his own actions. I will never love him, but I can understand and accept Tris' love for him. He is her brother, horrible or not. The essence of his character is that he is horrifyingly feeble. He lets others make the hard decisions and choices and he holds back in his fear. He is truly almost the antithesis of all that Tris is. That is what makes their relation so strange and fascinating.
The difference between Tris and Caleb is that in either position Tris would have taken the backpack. She is result of Abnegation and Dauntless combined. If the roles were reversed she never would have given Caleb the backpack.
Peter: He is quite the ambiguous character. He's this horrible guy who doesn't want to be horrible, but he takes the weak path to escape it. I can only imagine that he finds himself right back where he was.
He did, however, bring up the question of nature vs. nurture in a fascinating way. Would he become a different person without his memories? In the epilogue a hint was dropped that he retained some of his old habits even through his loss of memory. But I really think that it is left open to opinions.
and, of course, I've saved the best (and also worst) for last.
Tris: It's safe to say that Tris has now worked her way into the ranks of the true heroines. And yes, I realize that is a statement to which Tris would respond,
"Oh, good," I say, a sour taste in my mouth. "Heroism is what I was focused on. Not, you know, trying not to die."
But I stand by my statement.
First of all I love that Tris never lets herself forget what she did to Will. The all-consuming guilt is gone, but it's realistic that she'll never escape the consequences. She bears the pain of it because she knows she has to.
Secondly, the biggest part of what makes Tris such a strong heroine is that she's not afraid to do what she thinks is best, even when Tobias or even the whole world disagrees with her. She acts on a combination of her gut and her assumed responsibility.
In this book she finally learns how to balance selflessness and bravery correctly. She's okay with others make sacrifices as well, but only for the right reasons. And she's not self-destructive like she was in Insurgent. She finally wants to live again.
Which makes your heart pangs so much worse when she eventually reaches her end.
And now to address the biggest risk that Veronica Roth took with this book, killing off her main character.
This is something everyone just assumes won't happen because, you know, it's the main character, the character we care the most about, the character that we have followed throughout the entire series. But that is why this choice worked so brilliantly.
Tris' choice hurt us because it was the right one for her to make. I love her for making it, too. Would we really have respected her if she hadn't been willing to sacrifice? That might have made her more relatable to us, but it wouldn't have made her a hero to us.
"He is a part of me, always will be, and I am a part of him, too. I don't belong to Abnegation, or Dauntless, or even the Divergent. I don't belong to the Bureau or the experiment or the fringe. I belong to the people I love, and they belong to me---they, and the love and loyalty I give them, form my identity far more than any word or group ever could."
Because if we're being realistic (and to paraphrase the Percy Jackson series), the stories of true heroes most often end in tragedy. We can't expect long journeys of self-discovery and violence and emotion and justice without receiving the ramifications of the things we most enjoyed in that series. We can't love Tris for her bravery and then expect her not to act on it, not to make the ultimate sacrifice because of it. It wouldn't do the story or the reader justice or do them any good to leave out the messy bits, the hard bits. We must learn that it is anything but easy to be the hero. It hurts and it brings death and heartbreak. Telling us anything different would make us unprepared for the decisions we have to make daily, whether we will be brave. That is the truth in Tris' story and the reason it couldn't have ended any other way.
I might have wished a happy ending for Tris, but that is less important than a valid ending.
And, once again proving herself as a mature and kind author, here is a blogpost that Veronica Roth made answering some of the questions about the ending of Allegiant. She answers the critics with grace and eloquence and this just cements her place as one of my all-time favorite authors. Read this.
"It doesn't take skill to stand in a place where no bullets find you, or to fire into the dark and hit a man you didn't see. It is all luck, or providence, depending on what you believe."
"I prefer to look at it another way---which is that if they are persistent enough, even tiny drops of water, over time, can change the rock forever. And it will never change back."
"To be such a complicated, mysterious piece of biological machinery, and more amazing still, to have the capacity to analyze that machinery! ...Our ability to know about ourselves and the world is what makes us human."
"He makes the acquisition of knowledge feel like a secret, beautiful thing, and an ancient thing. I feel like, if I read this book, I can reach backward through all the generations of humanity to the very first one, whenever it was---that I can participate in something many times larger and older than myself."
"I wonder if this is how it is with all evil men, that to someone, they look just like good men, talk like good men, are just as likable as good men."
"To me, when someone wrongs you, you both share the burden of that wrongdoing--the pain of it weighs on both of you. Forgiveness, then, means choosing to bear the full weight all by yourself."
"But requiring a person to disappear, to fade into the background wherever they go, is no better than encouraging them to punch one another."
"She taught me all about real sacrifice. That it should be done from love, not misplaced disgust for another person's genetics. That it should be done from necessity, not without exhausting all other options. That it should be done for people who need your strength because they don't have enough of their own."
"I do know that. I know that change is difficult, and comes slowly, and that it is the work of many days strung together in a long line until the origin of them is forgotten. He is afraid that he will not be able to put in that work, that he will squander those days, and that they will leave him worse off than he is now."
"There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.
But sometimes it doesn't.
Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life."
"Since I was young, I have always known this: Life damages us, every one. We can't escape that damage. But now, I am also learning this: We can be mended. We mend each other."