How hard it is for *all* the books in a series to kick ass (and I’m not even talking about middle-book syndrome) is proven once again with Veronica Roth’s Allegiance. Divergent did kick some monumental butt, if you’re into no-thinking-too-hard-fun-entertainment-dystopian-adventure: it had a fierce protagonist in Tris, a fairly exciting love interest with Four/Tobias, it had action and adventure galore and the drive of the characters themselves was easily matched by the excellent pacing of the book. Divergent: SOOOO much fun! Insurgent, on the other hand, already totally disappointed in the pacing department: lots of running around, doing something, running around again, doing something again, all with very little focus. Result? A boring follow-up.
Allegiant, however, is even worse. Not only is the pacing in this book completely off – why have a 529-page book I wonder, when so little really matters or advances the plot significantly? – but what made the characters so kick ass to begin with, is completely undone by 2 things:
First, the weird choice to have a dual narrative all of a sudden: Tris and Tobias. Dual narratives are tricky, especially in the hands of an inexperienced (or not so gifted?) writer. The trick is to make sure that the voice of the narrators differs considerably enough so as to persuade the reader that, yes, this is another character seeing and experiencing things. That is not the case here. There is virtually nothing that distinguishes the voices of Tris and Tobias. I had to check repeatedly…who am I reading here? Never a good sign… Also, the dual narrative thing? Totally spoils your Big Ending, duh!
Second, undercutting the elements that made your main characters so kick ass in the first place. Seriously, Tobias? Wuss much? WTF is going on here? Does he even know what he wants? And Tris? OK, I get the stubborn bit of her character, ‘cause that’s what she does, but here we get petty jealousy behavior, and when she’s called on it (by Tobias), she basically shuts him out “you’re wrong, I’m right, accept it”. Then 2 minutes later, it’s kiss and make up time? Uhm.. yeah, way to go. Also, seriously, Tris: Little Miss Perfect much? Talk about one-dimensionality!
Also, this is supposed to be the conclusion to a series, right? So why on earth would you want to drag things out and introduce completely new elements (the whole genetics things, which is a) too ridiculously explained to make it believable, b) too much of a bother to explain here anyway), new characters who contribute NOTHING to the overall scheme of things (kill’em off? Oh, you did? See me care…) I mean, even the whole ‘Allegiant’-thing is not even what this book was about? Really? Why would this then be the title of your book? Seriously, why not just focus on… oh, I don’t know: the conflict between the factions and the factionless? I get it…it totally makes more sense to introduce a new conflict between Genetically Pure and Genetically Damaged…. :::sigh:::…
And the plotholes, OMFG, they are the size of Chris Carter’s ego! But more than just having plotholes, in hindsight, the plot and the worldbuilding was always so convoluted that it’s no surprise Roth got trapped in it herself. Does any of what happened in this book even make sense? I mean, look at it objectively. Do the math…or the science, whatever…
So no, it’s not the ending that makes this a weak book (I didn’t even care at that point, no emotions at all with regards to The Big Surprise). It’s all of the above: perspective, pacing, character err… assassination, plotholes. Maybe with Allegiant, the whole “dystopian hype” has finally died too… One can always wonder. Oh, that’s right, Hollywood first needs to milk the cashcow for another movie or 3… who knows, maybe they’ll also split this book in two like they’re doing with Mockingjay… :::insert massive eyeroll here:::.