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2/5: Allegiant

Allegiant - Veronica Roth

Tris and Tobias escape the disintegrating world of the factions and factionless for somewhere a lot stranger...and very familiar.

They discover that the population of Chicago have been lab rats for a dozen generations, with an artificial faction system imposed on them in an attempt to breed superior humans. So, basically, they’ve been controlled by Nazis.

The outside world is complete with inferior jobs for those ‘genetically damaged’ (like Tobias) and better jobs for the pure Divergent like Tris. Roth mirrors the instability outside the experiment with the instability inside Chicago. She succeeds for the most part, but I didn’t need hitting over the head repeatedly with it for five hundred pages. I wanted to say, I get it thanks! Now what are you going to do about it?

And, oh, boy, did this book drag on! It did NOT need five hundred and fifty pages to tell this story. After two books of fast paced action and twists, this comes to a screeching stop and doesn’t get moving again until a hundred pages from the climax. I found myself picking it up and putting it down again ten minutes later because it wasn’t holding my interest. Nazis, bad, yes, internal revolution brewing, yadda-yadda.

Dull for the most part, seeing Tris and Tobias sitting around and not doing much. I’m sure they didn’t even jump off a train in this one. The passion between Tris and Tobias is very two dimensional, their lovers spat flat and forced. And Tris doesn’t seem to know how to hold Tobias’s shirt without taking a fistful of it.

New in this one is a split narrative between Tris and Tobias, which opens up some different plot lines and is a new way of seeing the world. Tobias, in particular, has the soul of a poet in some of his early descriptions of the world, an eye for detail that Tris misses. It’s nice to see the same things through his eyes, to see Tris as others see her. Except as the story went on, Roth seems to forget it’s him doing the talking and he ends up sounding like Tris. I read a sentence “Then she kissed me”, and I had to check it was Tobias talking at one point.

Then one of my most hated things happens in this book. Tris and Tobias plan to make a life with each other, after all this done. When someone says that, you know one of them will die (Yes, you, Sirius Black). I can’t complain, since I’ve done it in my own stories, but just for once I’d like someone to say that and survive.

So it comes down to which one of the two – Tris or Tobias – will die. It’s the only reason the last few hundred pages worked for me, waiting to see which one it was. And when it was Tris, I was surprised. She’s survived quite a bit and I expected her to be fine. I’m also glad it was Tris. Tobias seems a lot more solid as a character and interesting.

This needed to be a few hundred pages shorter and better developed at the climax.