This isn’t so much a review but a response upon reading the final book in the series, Allegiant. I didn’t feel like writing reviews for Divergent or Insurgent because they were books I was reading for pleasure, but I did know I would have something to say about Allegiant once I’d finished it. Here goes:
I grew up much like Tris did, stifled in an environment that demanded I was selfless to the point of almost losing my own identity. I didn’t recognise myself in a mirror or photographs until I was fifteen. I was torn apart for appearing older than I was, sexually assaulted for the same reason, emotionally bullied by adults and (physically) by children alike, and often reminded by my own mother not to be selfish, to always always always think of others first, never to assume that anyone was thinking of me, that something might be for me. I was lazy. I wasn’t trying hard enough. I wasn’t worth it. I was a selfish pig. My emotions, my needs and wants and desires always came last. I was used to holding my temper in check because showing I was angry was selfish. Being the centre of attention – even on my birthday – was selfish. My mother dominated me, and she especially loved making me do degrading chores while I had friends visiting. It happened even when I was a teenager. I took to never inviting friends over, or if I did, warning my friends to play nice with my mother, that she’d exert her dominance over me by making me do something and if I refuse she’d fly into a rage and threaten me with physical violence, emotional blackmail, and throwing me out on the streets. It was easier to humiliate myself and appease her than face her wrath.
I understand Tris’ initial fear of being factionless.
I grew up walking on eggshells. My mother threatened to leave my father every six weeks. You could mark it off on a calendar. We got a bonus domestic at Christmas time. Joy to the world indeed.
It wasn’t a society thing, it was a mother thing. You can trade Tobias’ issues with his dad and replace my mother and change the abuse to emotional and I’ll understand his issues. Also, I can’t hate Caleb. He reminds me too much of my own brother. My big brother was Erudite through and through – intelligent, arrogant, lacking in empathy. But I still love him because he’s my brother.
My personality is very different to Tris’. I wouldn’t have the balls to choose Dauntless, but I’d still want to escape. I’d run to Amity and live in peace.
I’ve never really thought about my Abnegation upbringing. It open some pretty raw wounds even now that I’m in my mid-twenties.
But I did love this book series. I re-read Divergent, rocketed through Insurgent, and cruised through Allegiant knowing that something about the ending was pissing people the hell off. I managed to avoid spoilers for a month – a dauntless task in itself. I almost spoiled it for myself once, but the spoiler wasn’t actually a spoiler after all.
After preparing myself for the worst (which really wasn’t the worst) I came up with four possible theories as to why people were getting so upset.
- Tris dies
- Tobias dies
- One of them forgets the other due to the memory serum
- It was all a simulation since the end of Divergent (the ‘attack simulation’ was a reality simulation)
If any of this upsets you, then clearly you didn’t grow up with Joss Whedon. Joss Whedon is known for creating conflict by ‘jossing’ his characters – that is, romantic couples get together only to be torn apart before they can really enjoy their happiness. This is an awesome concept, but it leads to a lot of character deaths, many of which I have wept over. Every death of Joss’ is poignant, if not ‘necessary’. But people die. It’s no use covering your eyes and your ears and ignoring that fact. People die.
Me? Not only did I grow up with Joss Whedon producing most of my favourite shows, but I’m an Animorphs fan. I dedicated 5 years of my life and several hundred dollars to a series that ended in the death of my favourite character, the absolute breaking of my second favourite, the random disappearance of another, the breaking up of a team, and on a cliffhanger to boot. Wanna complain to me about FAIR? FIVE YEARS, PEOPLE. You can’t go through a war without casualties. Killing off the favourite, or unexpected character, is the norm to me.
Nothing much shocks me. I don’t need a happily ever after, or even happily for now. I can deal with upsetting endings.
SERIOUSLY I AM TALKING ABOUT SPOILERY THINGS SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED THEN OFF IS THE DIRECTION IN WHICH I SUGGEST YOU FUCK.
Or if you’re still reading because you’re a readaholic and it’s like crack and you can’t help yourself then I will make it easy. Click the X and close this post. You’re not missing anything and when it’s spoiled you’ll feel like crap. Click it. Buh-bye.
Anyone who wants to claim that any death in fiction is ‘unnecessary’ can go fuck themselves. Since when is any death at any time ‘necessary’ or not? Who are you to define when it is and when it isn’t? Some people say that deaths in fiction have to serve some purpose. To them as well I say a giant FUCK YOU. Deaths in the real world have no rhyme or reason, so why should they in fiction? Why should they? ‘It’s OK that you dad died of cancer, he died for a reason.’ Does that sound at all sane or logical to you? NO. Well, guess what? Deaths in fiction don’t have to be logical either.
The best deaths are the unexpected ones. Look at George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. Sure, it’s confusing as hell when you’re trying to figure out who the ‘real’ protagonist is, but those deaths and shocking and effective and they don’t make sense and they don’t happen for a reason and neither does death in real life.
What I did likeis that Tris made a huge mistake in once again being selfless to the point of recklessness and taking Caleb’s place in the final charge. Caleb was supposed to atone himself, but their atonement was done in words in the scenes beforehand, not in action. I always thought of Tris as a very action-orientated, violent girl, and I love her for that because I don’t think we have enough adrenaline junky teen girls out there in YA fiction that show more ways how a girl can be, that are completely unashamed to not be damsels in distress. However I do understand Tris’ motive for taking Caleb’s place, and as sad as I was that she died, I’ve read worse.
And true, sometimes I got lost on which character was narrating because their voices were so similar. That’s the reason for the docking of one star. I didn’t like the addition of the second narrator, and I also don’t think it was necessary. I think with a little more work and some creative writing the story could have been told entirely from Tris’ point of view, and I like the idea of the structural integrity by continuing with the lone narrator to keep the uniformity of the trilogy. I don’t think we needed the final scenes from Tobias, or if we needed the epilogue, it could have been delivered in any manner of ways: a report, a news item, a letter, third person omniscient.
I liked the fact that just when the rebels were escaping rebellion number 3? 4? Was it? They fell straight into another. It’s like the ripples on a pond. You escape one pond in which you’re a big fish, you become a small fish in a bigger pond. This is why I like my ‘Divergent is high school’ theory – in Allegiant they leave high school and go off to work in the big wide world, and it’s really more for the same, even though it’s so different.
People will fight for what’s right, if they feel passionately enough about it. That’s why we have wars in the first place. Wouldn’t it have been easy to have ended World War Two with a memory serum? I like that no matter where Tris turned, there was always more fighting to be had. Because that society is fucked up – it’s not ideal, it’s not wanted, and that’s why the story continued beyond her, through Tobias, until peace was restored. Then it was no longer a dystopian and the story could end.
And to all the people saying ‘I don’t need a happy ending but THIS ENDING SUCKED’. Well, suck it up, princess. That’s exactly what a non-happily-ever-after ending does.
Yes, I am still looking forward to the film a ridiculous amount.