“It doesn’t matter,” I say, more sternly than I mean to. “It doesn’t matter what’s out there, we have to see it for ourselves.”‘
It’s been quite a while since I read Divergent and Insurgent, and if I’m honest, I’ve kind of been putting off reading Allegiant, the last book in the trilogy. Whilst I loved Divergent, I found Insurgent to be a little, well, ‘meh’ I guess, and I started to worry that the trilogy would suffer the same fate as I felt The Hunger Games did: I loved the first book, thought the second was OK, but didn’t like the last book at all, and can barely even remember what happened in it.
However, I needn’t have worried. Where Insurgent let off the pace a little, Allegiant seemed to pick it up again, and whilst at first I found it hard to get into because I had completely forgotten how Insurgent ended (that’s how you can judge if I enjoyed a book or not – can I remember it a few months down the line?), once my memory was jogged a bit, I was keen to have the mystery of what was outside the city answered.
The book opens in the aftermath of Edith Prior’s video having been revealed to the entire city – in the video she explains that the city with its faction set-up is in fact an experiment, and that there is a world outside the city that is in turmoil and that needs their help. Following this big reveal, Evelyn (Tobias’ mother, leader of the factionless) has taken control of the city following Jeanine’s demise, and is attempting to abolish the faction system: an act that is met by opposition from many. Meanwhile an underground organisation known as Allegiant is attempting to recruit Tris and her friends for a mission to leave the city and discover the outside world they never knew existed.
The idea of this unknown ‘outside world’ really intrigued me, and I couldn’t help wondering if it would just be our own world, or if it would be somewhere completely different. The answers given were certainly not disappointing anyway, although I did find myself wondering what had been the point of setting up the entire world of the first two books, complete with it’s factions and rules, to then just of dismiss it as an experiment in the third book. It felt kind of like the way they tell you in school never to end a story – ‘and it was all just a dream!’
Also with the characters having been removed from the world of the first two books it seemed to completely change the tone, and whilst this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing (part of my problem with Insurgent I think was that the whole factions thing felt like it had gotten kind of stale and ‘old news’ by that point), the book seemed like an entirely separate entity.
In keeping with this entirely different tone, the book also makes another huge change from what has gone before: it is no longer narrated by Tris alone, but switches between her point of view and Tobias’. Whilst it gave more of an insight into Tobias’ character I did find it confusing as I would start reading the chapters he narrates and forget that it wasn’t Tris speaking until something was said about her in third person. I can’t say I really liked this new format, and I don’t really feel it added much to the book in the way of seeing events differently. I feel like it was just used out of necessity for the plot to work.
As far as the characters go, I also had mixed feelings about Allegiant. Whilst I enjoyed seeing more of some of the secondary characters like Christina, Cara, Uriah and Peter, and I liked a lot of the newcomers (Zoe was kind of boring, but I liked Matthew and Nita), I found that I didn’t like the main characters so much in this final book. I felt Tris became really whiny, and her endless bickering with Tobias was just plain boring. I had never been overly convinced by their relationship in the first place, but in Allegiant I did start to wonder why they even bothered. It seemed like at most points they were in conflict with each other, and this was punctuated only by the odd lovey-dovey, slightly cringey make-up scene.
However, I did like the strained relationship between Tris and her brother Caleb following his betrayal of her in Insurgent. The confused emotions she seems to feel for him of both love and hatred cause her to have a number of hard decisions throughout the novel, and I thought the way it played out was both shocking and compelling.
And that brings us to the ending. That ending. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about! I liked that it was so unexpected, and I was genuinely surprised by it, whereas I had expected some neat, fairly predictable conclusion to the trilogy.
Overall, whilst I felt Allegiant had many faults, I did enjoy it, and loved the fast pace and focus on action that it had. The complete new setting, and the many revelations throughout the book kept me guessing, and I think that despite its faults, the book rounds off the series nicely, and with a surprisingly unpredictable ending. If you’ve read the other two (and especially if you were like me, put off by Insurgent and were wondering whether to bother with the last book), then Allegiant is definitely worth a read!