Normally I write posts reviewing books as a way to encourage people to consider whether they want to read them or not.  Less often I write my posts geared  towards those who have already read the book I am talking about and I try to raise some questions for reflection on what was read.  This post is going to definitely be one of the latter.  In fact, please DON’T read further is you have not yet read Allegiant by Veronica Roth, as this will contain the mother of all spoilers.

This last book of the trilogy felt like a long time coming, even though Divergent and Insurgent were two of my faves, I had started to forget the storyline a bit when I started on this.   I felt a little like someone with amnesia who had to relearn all the important people in their life.  So to say the choice that author Veronica Roth made was shocking is an understatement.  I should mention that I typically avoid reading other book reviews because I want to not be influenced by others’ thoughts and impressions, my hope it to raise some reactions, points, questions that other’s have not.  I realize that saying something original might be a difficult role to achieve.  For once, I am tempted to read what others have said about how Roth decided to end this book, but the pain, and yes bitterness, over a beloved character has to fade before I can.

Did Roth make the right choice?  If nothing else, I have to applaud her bravery.  We live in a world where in books, TV and movies a character is killed off to heighten the action or tension of the story, but it’s usually a second banana.  Roth had already killed off some strong secondary characters from various factions in the previous stories, so I guess it might have been a choice of “go big, or go home.” 

Really, killing major characters is so rarely done, it’s basically taboo.  I mean we follow a main character as they grow and evolve.  We empathize, admire, or even grow to love these characters over time.  To kill one of them is to kill the myth of a happy ending, what we were raised to believe and hope every day to be true.  How many main characters were killed off can you name that have been killed in books, TV shows or movie?  Until Allegiant I can only name The Angels are the Reapers in this book genre.  In TV shows, I am struggling.  Oh there have been close calls, lots of main characters supposedly killed, but then brought back through some magic plot device such as Bobby Ewing on Dallas. Movies?  Yes, Thelma& Louise, but that was a choice, not something or someone else killing them.  

It’s a road not often traveled for many reasons.  Readers trust a storyteller not to guide us to fall in love and then kill off the source of that feeling.  This may seem somewhat ironic in this genre of book where by the very nature of being a dystopic or apocalyptic book it’s a known fact that there will be violence, suffering and deaths.   Maybe that’s what makes it all the more shocking, already immersed in all of those, the main character provides the one ray of hope and symbolizes survival.  To remove that forces a strong reaction and potential backlash.   One could argue that a writer who does that is just being realistic, but who wants to be that realistic?  In so many ways inside we are all still those little kids hiding under the covers who don’t want to see the scary monsters out there.  We crave the warm reassurance of people who use the phrase, “everything will be alright.”   How can we ever fool ourselves again about that when our sense of the world being alright was aided by the knowledge that this character was in the world?

I could go out on a limb and argue how could this story have ended in any other way?  Four might have had more sheer physical strength, but Tris was always the stronger one, in spirit and will.   How could Roth have been true to the character if Tris had allowed her brother Caleb to die for her and the others? Killing Four would have been the easier choice, though would have pissed many readers off, it would have been less disturbing.  After all, Four has made multiple mistakes, including one with serious consequences in this book.  He is a damaged soul and it might have almost seemed a moment of grace to let him go.

As much as many readers may have felt betrayed by the fate of Tris, for Tris to not make the choice she did would have been a betrayal of all we feel like we have grown to know about who she is.  Is it a mark of respect that Roth felt that we and she were strong enough to handle this?  Or is it like that famous line, “You can’t handle the truth” and because we aren’t as strong as we thought we were that this ending made us angry?   I wonder if Hollywood will be strong enough to handle the truth, after all the first book in Roth’s trilogy, Divergent, is about to be released as a movie. I can make a pretty good guess that they bought the rights to the series before Allegiant was finished.  In the CA zone where everything is superficial and made pretty, what will they do with this truth, change it?


5 thoughts on “Allegiant

  1. Tris’s choice was realistic in the situation, but the real problem is (1) there was no logical reason for the situation to even exist in the first place because the “suicide mission” was entirely contrived and ridiculously unnecessary, and (2) she was able to survive the mission anyway but the scene was contrived to kill her anyway just for the sake of having her die just to push the point.

    That is why people are annoyed. Not one iota of this storyline was actually necessary.

  2. I agree with you that her character would never have allowed her brother to die instead of her, but I was still really disappointed in the outcome of the book. Read somewhere her death may impact the $ potential of the movie (s).

  3. I agree with Michelle. My main concern was that her death was completely unnecessary. It’s not just the fact that she died, but the way that she died that pissed me and most readers off. Tris has survived the most ridiculous things and for her to be shot by David – a man who isn’t that scary of a villain to begin with – feels like a cop out. I feel like there wasn’t enough tension between her and David. I mean it’s only in this book that we meet him. He isn’t like her arch nemesis or anything. The worst part is when he says ” I’ve known about this plan all along.” And that doesn’t make sense, why should it be this moment that Tris gets sloppy and has her plans revealed. It didn’t seem that obvious that she was plotting against him to me. And what made David so sure that she would survive the death serum? That was a miracle within its self. If anything should have killed her, it should have been the death serum – what the suicide mission intended for – not some random villain added in last minute by the author to build suspense.

    • Sagine,

      You’ve made some great points. You are right that it’s almost a discredit to Tris to be felled by someone like David, she’s faced stronger villains, plus the fact that he was ‘waiting’ for her to get through the death serum. However, while I think the idea to kill the main character, while poorly executed, was still a brave choice. Even if it had involved a better plot line, the author was still risking the wrath of readers by making such a bold decision.

      • I agree it was a brave choice, however, I’m not sure if it really fit in the story. It feels as thought Roth only did it to distinguish Allegiant from other YA dystopian novels, not because it was a natural progression in the story. Now if Tris’s death was better planned out, would I still be upset? Probably. I just wish it wasn’t such a let down from previous installments where everything was not only suspenseful but well thought out.

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