Author: Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent, Book 3
Publisher: Harper Collins
Star Rating: 5/5
Date Read: October 23rd to 25th, 2013
Read Count: 1
*Warning, this review contains seriously major spoilers!*
I cannot begin to explain the emotional trauma I feel right now.
As this book hurtled to a close, all I could feel was the shock and the grief washing over me. And it just keeps coming back to me. I had to sit back, close my eyes and try to see past that. Why had Veronica Roth let this happen? It wouldn’t be without good reason.
Tris’ death is what has everyone talking at the moment. One of the biggest plot twists since Snape really was a good guy, and one of the most heart wrenching character deaths since Augustus Waters. We have been conditioned to think that, as readers, authors owe us happy endings. They can hover our favourite characters on the brink of death, and then bring them back (Harry, Sherlock, Artemis). But the authors are under no obligation to us.
Tris was Divergent. She was Dauntless and she was Erudite, but she was raised Abnegation. Despite the relief she may have felt when Caleb offered himself, despite that she had decided she did not want to leave, there was still that part of her in the last moment that knew she had the best chance of surviving. But Tris had brushed with death so many times and lived. There are only so many times you can flirt with danger that way. And after surviving the death serum, it is horribly ironic that she was killed by a bullet, shot from the gun of a man who wouldn’t remember what he had done, because Tris had managed to press the green button to release the memory serum.
The memory serum brings up a lot of ethical questions in this book. I know I was one who grappled with the decisions being made. What would I do in that situation? Is it right to decide who or what is to be sacrificed for the ‘greater good’? And is there any guarantee that the greater good will prevail?
It is important, I think, not to let Tris’ death overshadow the rest of the story, and the rest of the series. And it is also important to remember that this was a war. There were ‘breaks’ but overall it was a war. There will always be casualties in war. If readers think there are not, or there will be but not the protagonist, then the readers are naive. Allegiant was way past sugar coating war.
As for the rest of the story, readers are given more backstory and the real history of how the factions came to be and also (this has been a big point for me the whole way through) what happened to everyone else? The factions were not alone. There was some very complex but incredible world building and we find out more about Tris’ mother, Natalie. We see what life is like outside the fence. However, I feel like there should have been a little bit more focus about what was still inside the fence although I understand how overwhelming it all must have been for our characters, to find out everything they thought about their lives was a lie.
Tobias did not respond well to the news that he was considered ‘genetically damaged’ and I felt like this showed for a majority of the way through the novel. He didn’t take Tris’ doubts seriously, even when she turned out to be right. He grappled with this new way he felt he had to see himself, not recognising, as Tris did, that this did not make him a different person. He was easily swayed, in his overeagerness to challenge the authority he immediately saw as in the wrong. He really needed to slow down for a second and try to think things through logically. Reading half of this story from his POV was interesting and gave a different view of the same world. He was clearly still dealing with a lot of family issues, which brings me to what has seemed to many as a copout storyline: his reconciliation with his mother and the treaty.
I think Evelyn was tired. She had brought the factionless to power but I don’t think it was quite what she was expecting. She ruled with weapons and fear and anger and the burning for revenge for the wrong done by them, but I think that can only last for so long. She wanted a normal. I think that’s natural. She had lost her son because of it and it’s important to note, she was not evil. There is not a single character in this novel I would call completely evil. People have both good and evil in them, and its their choices that define them. Choice is an important theme in this novel. Evelyn chose to back down and offer a treaty for what everyone (except Marcus) wanted: peace. I think it makes sense that it took some simple pleading from her son to finally bring it on – I think the pressure had been building for a while.
The world Tris left behind will never be the same. It will take a long time for them to recover, to rebuild, much longer than can be given by the epilogue set two and half years later. It’s not a Happy Ever After, not in a long shot, and of course it’s not what anyone was expecting. But the vision Tris had of her mother, reaching out to her, makes me think that as much as it hurt me, she has done the right thing.
It’s going to take me a long time to get over the Divergent trilogy, and it may be quite a while before I can read them again. I hope I can, because I have honestly enjoyed the journey through the futuristic world that Ms. Roth led us through. We wouldn’t all feel so affected by it and be so connected to the characters if she wasn’t an amazing author. It was an excellent, excellent series and I will still be recommending to my friends, maybe with a box of tissues in hand. Thank you, Veronica Roth.