If we are concerned with full disclosure then I should probably make it clear that I wasn’t expecting much from Allegiant. I was decently impressed with the first book, Divergent, but the second book, Insurgent, really missed the mark as far as I’m concerned. As a result, going into reading Allegiant I was pretty sure things were going to continue downhill from where the second book left off.
It turns out, I was only partly right, which in the end is probably a good thing. Allegiant is, from a standpoint of writing mechanics and pacing, easily the best of the three books. There were no dragging portions of the book that were difficult to plow through in order to get to the action. I feel like Veronica Roth has improved in her writing style and mechanics as well and relies less on various shock and awe moments to hide some slightly weak prose like she did in the first two books. Not that she’s a bad writer by any stretch, but in the first two books there were a few times when I felt she was struggling to get into words what she was trying to say. That sort of thing doesn’t happen in Allegiant, which made for a stronger reading experience across the board.
With that said, there were still a couple of strange things about this book that didn’t sit quite right with me. First off, the characters spent the entirety of Divergent and Insurgent living inside a city which they now know to be Chicago. But, in Allegiant for some reason after the first few chapters the author moves all of the action outside the city and keeps it there. The setting that had been built for the readers was basically set to the side and left behind for some reason. I understood where she was going with the story and why it made sense to move the characters to a different location, but that didn’t stop it from feeling incredibly alien to me as the reader. It came across as the author trying really hard to do something drastic to the story instead of as a natural progression of events.
The other thing I had a hard time with was all of the very spontaneous and aggressive make-out sessions between the two main characters, Tris and Tobias. I get that they are in love and that they are expressing their affection for each other. I’m also not a prude and don’t mind romantic or sexual scenes in the books I read, but after the first couple of times the kissing and tugging at the clothing and heavy breathing into each others’ necks just seemed gratuitous and rather unrealistic. But, with the target audience what it is, perhaps that’s just how it has to be. Like I said, those scenes don’t offend me or make me uncomfortable, but at least make them believable if you’re going to use them so often.
Ultimately, the fate of Tris, Tobias, and the rest of the characters seemed pretty solid in the end. I won’t talk much about it because it would be full of spoilers, but I thought that the author did a good job of balancing plot twists, character development, and closing off plot points in the final quarter of the book. There was some new character depth that was missing in the earlier books and all in all I felt like by the time I was done I had a connection with the characters I’d been missing earlier in the series. Were all of the plot choices spectacular? No, there is one I am not really sure I agree with, but overall the closing scenes held up well.
Reading this trilogy has been an interesting experience. It’s no secret that publishers and even Hollywood are trying to hold up these three books as the next great thing to follow The Hunger Games, and maybe if the first movie next spring is successful they’ll get what they want, but I’m just not sure. I don’t think Veronica Roth set out trying to be the next big thing, and I think she had a very interesting story to tell. However, I think the best part of her story was contained in the third book and if some of those pieces had been moved to the front it might have made for a stronger tale altogether.