I finally got around to reading the most talked about trilogy since the year 2011, which to nobody’s surprise belongs to the YA genre – Divergent by Veronica Roth. Lately I have been observing that this genre has been getting a bit more of the spotlight than it truly deserves. First the hunger games and now this. Well congratulations to Veronica Roth for getting the book highly publicized, but I wanted to see what the fuss was really about. Usually when I start a book with such high expectations, it more often than not turns out to be a huge disappointment by the end of it, but I have to say that Divergent didn’t make me want to shoot myself at first. Having said that and after having read Allegiant, which was released on 22nd October, 2013, I am thinking about buying a gun (any suggestions?). The best way to read a trilogy is reading all the books cover to cover and back to back. I finished all three books in less than 5 days and call me a bragger, but I am pretty impressed with myself (yay!). I am going to be talking about all three books in the series below so rest assure, this review is going to be lengthy and will have MASSIVE SPOILERS. So if you haven’t read Allegiant or the series yet, I suggest you click the cross icon that appears on the top right corner of your screen and fly away (buhbye!).
Now moving to my rating criteria:-
1. Plot : The simple reason why I liked the book Divergent was the premise. I liked the idea of how a society can be divided into factions, each having their own belief system and way of living. Of course this sort of system can prevail only in the book world because such kind of extremist thinking can never survive in real life. Well, it didn’t survive in the book itself. But the idea was intriguing and fascinating and since I love to escape reality, why not! Just because Divergent was the book it was, I went ahead with the series. Having said that I will mention here that there was a lack of world building in the first two books. The first two books takes place inside the fence and Varonica didn’t bother to explain many things about the world she had created. We get that when you turn 16 you have to make a choice as to which faction you want to be a part of, which in a way isn’t really a choice, but apart from that I didn’t get that many inputs on this fascinating world. Sure, she explained everything in book 3 – Allegiant but that much information needed time for processing. Also, the plot of book 1 and 2 didn’t really grow. They both were revolving around taking down Jeanine Matthews, who was the leader of Erudite and behind the damn serum that controlled the dauntless members. Like I said before Allegiant had way too much of information that was being dumped on us. But, there were also parts, which were irrelevant like the time Nita took Tobias to the fringe? What the hell was that for? to guard the effing door? After reading Divergent, we believe that the only problem in this society are the Divergents as they cannot be controlled. They fight it out and finally defeat Jeanine by the end of Insurgent only to find out that the actual problem is happening outside the fence, when this top-secret video footage of a miss prior gets played. Then, in the third book they declare that everything said by Prior in the video was a LIE. So basically, everything Tris did in Divergent and Insurgent was a waste of effort. Allegiant has a totally different plot from Book 1 and 2. Now it’s no more about the factions fighting amongst themselves ‘cos they have disbanded that system in Book 3, but now it’s about GDs’ and GPs’. Suddenly we are talking about genes and how something that is out of our hands and can’t be controlled is made the highlight of the last book in the trilogy. I found that a little bit ridiculous to be totally honest. These people call themselves really smart, like Erudite smart and they fail to understand that genes is just one factor of how a person is. You cannot blame every bad or good thing they do on their genes. Upbringing and culture makes a lot of difference and fighting over this was a major let down for me. I didn’t see this coming. There is absolutely no connectivity in the plot. She is coming up with new side-stories just to increase the number of books. I wanted the third book to be still about the struggle between the factions and wanted to see how she sees it through but that was not what was delivered (sigh). I knew that after the end of Insurgent, it’s going to be about the factions vs the factionless and deep down I hoped the ending of Allegiant to be the victory of the factions and how their society best worked in that system all along. But it was not that at all. All in all, the plot had issues and internal conflicts, which came to surface in Allegiant.
2. Character Development – Gosh, I have so many things to say in this category. Let me start with –
a. Tris – Everybody loves Tris. I like her (don’t hate me). I find her to be someone who is strong and brave and absolutely perfect. The absolutely “perfect” part came into being only in Allegiant. In Divergent and Insurgent, she made wrong choices. She didn’t foresee Caleb’s betrayal, she didn’t think twice before going to Erudite’s headquarters to sacrifice herself, she shot Will, when she could have disarmed him and ran off etc etc. She wasn’t perfect in Book 1 and 2 but in Book 3….BAM….she is freaking perfect. She makes all the right choices. It’s like she has this superpower to know what to do and when to do it and get it right all the time. The part when she reveals Nita and Tobias’s plan to Matthew, someone who she thought belonged in Team Bureau at the time was so shocking to me. I mean, how could she have trusted someone on the inside and told on Tobias and risk his life just ‘cos she didn’t buy into Nita’s plan, which was right btw but who would have known, given the circumstances. She had hard-core proof with the photographs and everything. I actually felt bad for Tobias in Allegiant since they had many conflicts to the point of breaking up and if Tris was right in doing what she did all the time, then that could only mean that Tobias was wrong all the time and he had also just learnt that he was not Divergent so that lead to more poor choices on his part. I know this will sound awful, but I don’t really see Tris as a real character. Meaning I don’t see someone like her in real life and I am not the type who is going to fall for the “I will sacrifice everything for your happiness” bit. I adore characters that seem believable. Given that she is brave to the point of marching to Erudite to sacrifice herself and then backing down at the last minute by saying that I want to live, that’s the Tris I liked. She is human afterall and she wants to live. No harm in that. But of course she didn’t really mean it ‘cos she sacrificed her life anyways in Allegiant. In Insurgent, Tobias went on and on about how stupid she was for doing things without thinking and being brave about it instead of being smart and I agreed with him 1000000%. You want to fight a war, you have to be brave but more importantly you have to be smart. The stunts she pulled through out the series was unforgivable by me and then she has the nerve to bombard him and even think of breaking up with him because he made one wrong decision of believing Nita, even though what Nita said was true but what she intended to do with Tobias was false. Nobody can be this sacrificing all the time. I am having a hard time comprehending her. I was sad that she died in the end but I will come to that later. After reading Vernocia’s blogpost where she explains why Tris was the way she was portrayed (pretty much everything I said earlier) is because she belonged to Abnegation and when her parents died, especially watching her mother sacrifice herself to save the day was a turning point in her life and she wanted to follow her footsteps and bla bla bla. I don’t agree with this justification because after having first hand experience of watching someone put their fight first and life second, she should have done the opposite. She should have known better than to keep playing with fire. Anyways there were some parts in the series regarding Tris that annoyed the hell outta me.
b. Tobias (a.k.a Four) – I was a fan of Tobias since Book 1. I thought his character was very strong, interesting and mysterious. He always knew what to do in order to watch his back and when the whole love thing happened with Tris, I kinda thought to myself, great! he will take care of her. She has nothing to worry. But then Allegiant happened and his POV was such a turn off. He starting sounding whiny, weak and kind of like a sissy. Everything that I loved about him in Book 1 and 2 went away. Now it was Tris who was calling the shots and telling him whats right and wrong and that totally made me upset. I’ll come to the POV part later in the presentation criteria. In Allegiant, when Tobias found out that he was not technically “Divergent”, he got so upset and insecure that he started behaving in ways that annoyed me to the extent of throwing my tablet twice on the floor. When Nita came into the picture and when Tris described her as pretty, I already started imagining love triangles forming and I thought Veronica would capitalize on that but thankfully she didn’t, although insecurity did play a role in the story. Another thing that made me upset was when Tobias went back to his Abnegation house after Tris’s death and wanted to consume the memory serum to forget that he ever loved someone or even met someone named Tris. That was it for me and Tobias. He had to be convinced by Christina, who I thought was one of the most strongest characters in the series.
c. Other Supporting Charatcers – My favorite character was Uriah and it burns me to know that he is not going to be there in the movie. From the minute he entered in Divergent, I loved him. He was funny, sarcastic, fun to hang around with, all in all a good buddy to have. I was really upset when he died in Allegiant and his death was all the more tragic given that his mother and brother had to pull the plugs. I was hoping till the last moment that he would make it but no! Vernonica likes to play her mind games with us. Christina was another character that I admired partly because she had many opportunities throughout the book where she could have thrown tantrums and cause problems but thankfully she came out of it soon. Cara felt like a cute, annoying sister that I never wanted. I have mixed feelings about Caleb. Marcus was your typical abusive father character. He didn’t bring anything else to the table apart from that. Evelyn is just mad. I mean she started a war against the factions in Insurgent and when his son comes and asks her to choose between him and factionless, she chose him. Why couldn’t she have just done that at first. I just don’t get how someone can just flip a switch and change their mind without any valid reason. Was the whole of insurgent a waste of time then? I admire Marcus for that because even till the end he maintained his evilness. Peter Peter Peter…what can I say about him. Well there had a be a bad guy turn good in this series next to all the cliche twists ever possible. I know I am being harsh about this but the twists and turns seemed forced and not justified properly. The sole reason why they were brought about was to extend the number of books and make it a trilogy. I didn’t like that.
3. Writing & Presentation – Well, the writing was very plain and simple. No rocket science, no beautiful, quotable lines or poems in there. Heck, it was so easy to read that I was convinced that you don’t really need to know that many fancy words to write a novel. The presentation was simple and easy. The Allegiant POV format was the only place where she went wrong. First, when I started the book itself and noticed the POV format, I knew that someone is going to die. Then watching people’s reaction on YouTube, I was convinced that someone is going to die. There were literally times when I was almost done with the chapter and had to switch back to see who’s POV I was reading. They both sounded the same. Hence the sissy, girlish Tobias comment before. I loved the last few chapters when Tobias describes about how he pulled her down from the net after she jumped first during initiation and that he had seen her before but not in the way that she truly deserves. Those two chapters were the highlight of Allegiant. Also the zip-line ash ritual was pretty cool and touching.
4. Ending – Aaaahh..The ending of Allegiant is what stuck with people the most. Those people don’t include me. I was sad no doubt about that. I mean when you spend days rooting for a character to accomplish a mission, you are bound to say, “Veronica I will kill you with my bare hands for taking Tris away from our lives” but I thought the ending was bad because of the way she died. She was taking Caleb’s place and Caleb was stupid to have allowed her to do this in the first place. When he told Tobias that he had to let her go because she was pointing a gun at him, I just lost it. How the hell is he an Erudite (anyone?). Who would be so stupid as to think that the person who is willing to drop everything and sacrifice her life in order to protect someone is going to shoot that same someone if he didn’t allow her to do it. If she had died under some other, maybe fighting circumstances, then I guess it would have been easier to buy but I can’t seem to get over the fact that Caleb could have stopped it but he didnt ‘cos he thought she was going to shoot him.
5. Overall – I think the series was hyped up and was an okay(ish) read. It was not a waste of time and I recommend everyone who is below 20 years of age to give it a go. I will be watching the movie when it comes out on 20th March 2014. Judging by the trailor, I am expecting a massive disappointment even on that front. Looking at the cast, I just don’t feel the book talking to me. Anyways, we shall cross that bridge when we get there.