Thursday, November 14, 2013

Have Mercy . . . It's Over!: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Ummm.... it's hard for me to know where to start with this one.  The song "Mercy" by Duffy kept playing in my head as I read the third and final book in the Divergent series.  Allegiant by Veronica Roth hurt to read.  I know, I know . . . she has tons of fans.  Girls in the age range of 12-17 probably LOVE this series, and don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the first book, Divergent, but I couldn't enjoy this book at all.  

Not at all (sorry Veronica Roth fans). I can picture my good friend's daughter reading this post and crying because she loves Veronica Roth so much and just met her at The National Book Festival.  And I appreciate this adoration, but I can't say that I appreciate Roth's writing in the 2nd book in her trilogy, Insurgent, and even I possess even less admiration for the writing in Allegiant.  

I rolled my eyes while reading just about every chapter.  Before you jump to the conclusion that I just hate YA literature, please reconsider.  I LOVE YA literature, but not all YA literature (just like not all adult literature) is created equally, and Roth's book Allegiant is a sad attempt to continue and conclude the very intriguing dystopia she developed in Divergent.  The main action of this book takes place outside of the faction led (and crumbling) futuristic Chicago in a secret compound that has been monitoring the city experiment.  In the world outside the city, the dystopia continues but instead of faction fighting faction, it is the Genetically Pure (or Divergent) against the Genetically Damaged (those who aren't Divergent). Beyond this compound there is an even harsher landscape called the fringe which seems just like the factionless sector in the city.  

Although the conflicts are all set, there is little to love about this book. Let's take the characters of Tris and Four (Tobias) for an example of the deteriorating story line.  Their relationship in the first book blossomed during the initiation process, but in the second book it thinned and it almost became a laughable aspect of Allegiant.  Tris huffs and puffs so much at Tobias, and Tobias seems bent on lying to her which seems so different than the very lovable and admirable Four that Roth presented in Divergent.  Whenever a "love" scene appeared in this book, I felt nothing for this couple but an annoyance.  Why does every time that Tobias looks at Tris that she has to question why such an attractive bloke would love the skinny, pale, and plain likes of her?  The murky lack of self confidence even with the plans and bravery Tris shows in every other situation just seems wrong and so sadly misplaced that it grew tiresome. 

I also grew tired of the plans and revolutions.  I know that this too might be a subject for Roth fans to debate me, but almost every chapter presented a new plan involving a new serum of some sort that only some people are immune to or some people have been inoculated against. All of the plans felt contrived and a bit childish rather than well thought out and complex.  

The new characters presented from the compound outside of the city also seemed thin and underdeveloped.  Nita, whose appearance furthers the understanding of the resistance against the Genetically Damaged prejudice is also presented as a love hiccup between Tris and Tobias.  The whole situation is so ridiculous with Tobias accusing Tris of just being jealous, and Tris focusing on Nita's beauty.  Aren't they in the midst of some huge revolution and in mind blowing revelations about the Matrix-esque role of the compound?  In one part after Tris shoots Nita she visits her in her guarded cell.  Tris describes Nita in her powerless state and thinks, "half her body is encased in plaster, and one of her hands is cuffed to the bed, as if she could escape even if she wanted to. Her hair is messy, knotted, but of course, she's still pretty." I had to mark that passage, because I rolled my eyes after I read it.  Really? You visit the rebel in her prison cell after you almost killed her and you are focusing on her still being pretty?

The dual narrative from Tobias and Tris's perspective also got tiresome and didn't offer too much of a different perspective until the end.  

I don't want to be cruel, but I was so glad when I finished this book.  I know that it will still sell, sell, sell, and with the movie coming out for Divergent in the Spring (as well as another collection of stories from Four's point of view), Roth is sure to be given high praise for her trilogy.  My biggest hope was that Roth's Divergent world would improve with each book like J.K. Rowling's writing improved and grew more complex with each installment of Harry Potter. Instead every interesting aspect of the first book dissolved in the second book, and the third book basically ran on empty the entire 526 pages.  

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