So I was pleasantly surprised. It pays to go in with your expectations on the floor. I received a gorgeous gift story for Yuletide that explored Four post-Allegiant, and it convinced me to finally buy the book, which I read in a couple hours this morning (Friday). Allegiant redeemed Insurgent for me. It brought the world together, painfully perhaps, but well. As for plot holes, I found none large enough to drive a truck through, but then, I've been in comics fandoms where these issues are on a whole other level.
So here goes some meta, hitting point by point the issues I was worried about and the stuff that blew me away in this book. From the beginning, I went looking for spoilers because at the end of Insurgent, I felt there was logic fail, and I have little tolerance for that. Spoilers implied there would be plenty.
When we first met Evelyn in book two, several things were quickly established:
- Evelyn loved Tobias.
- As soon as she felt it safe, she reopened communication with him.
- She felt betrayed by the factions specifically because of how they failed her in her personal relationships with Marcus and Tobias.
- Every opportunity, she reached out to her son for reconciliation.
- She was jealous of Tobias' affection and loyalty.
Which is my way of saying, Roth extensively established the background for Evelyn's choosing Tobias over the city. It was beyond believable.
When I wrote up my Insurgent reactions, I noted then that I understood how he could get swept into Jeanine's mindset even though I hated him for it. The interactions between Tris and Caleb in Allegiant are spot-on. Caleb felt guilty and terrible but had been willing to sacrifice his family for what he truly believed was the greater good. I get that.
Because of that, the fallout here was perfect. Caleb did need redemption, but the suicide mission wouldn't have given it to him. It would have taken away the time he needed to do the actual hard work of redemption, as it says later in the book of Peter,
"change is difficult, and comes slowly, and that is the work of many days strung together in a long line until the origin of them is forgotten."
That's what Caleb needs and I'm glad Tris gave him the chance to get it. As soon as I read the scene where everyone looks at him and guilts him into "volunteering," all of my insides were screaming this isn't right, this isn't a choice. It's guilt, cold and hard and simple. Tris realized that and finally admitted it and remembered that she promised she wouldn't have walked him to his own execution. If she had allowed Caleb to go through with it, she would have done something horribly despicable and gone against every good part of her there was.
In short, I wasn't sure if the build-up would be well done or not. It was. I believed in the way things played out. It was necessary and not even a little bit. It was downright coldly necessary.
The Death Scene
So someone remarked about how she fights off the death serum and gets taken down by a bullet. WTF?
Again, I get it. After Nita, there was no way on heaven or earth I would have believed there wasn't someone in there guarding. She would've gotten shot at point blank range in the Weapons Lab or outside of it after she deployed the memory serum. Guards just outside the door, remember? Okay, memory serum might have saved her, but I really wouldn't have believed in it. This was a suicide mission, flat-out. I wouldn't have believed in anyone's survival going into that.
It was beautifully done. I hate the result, but I believed in it. 'Nuff said.
So there were also those that thought Four's characterization suffered. I didn't believe that going in and I'm further unimpressed by the sentiment coming out. When you're not reading the thoughts behind his actions, he is just as strong and uncertain and hurting and stoic as portrayed in book number one. When you are reading the thoughts in his head, ignore them for a moment and read what he does and says on the outside. Yep. Still Four.
You don't get abused for sixteen years without getting broken. You don't go through your fear landscape and cringe like a child from a horrific image of your father and have that feeling go away a few months later just because you're in the middle of a war. In short, just because we feel his fear doesn't mean we're not seeing the exact same thing we saw before: someone who is very afraid of what few things he's afraid of, so much he has no room for other fears, and ignores his fear when deciding to act.
I was reminded a lot of the first few scenes in Divergent where Tris looks at him and recognizes the instability in him, the mercurial impulse he often squelches. We see it in Allegiant, and I respect him no less.
I always loved the idea of the factions, though obviously they didn't work out well in practice, but they seemed to improve the cities where they were implemented. Think about it. It was focus, something the Bureau had little of. The Faction system pushed GDs to focus on the virtue inherent in their tendencies instead of the weakness. They focused on the good that came from their genes and how to use that good to its best and fullest to better their society and lives. In short, factions maximized the benefit of their genetic tendencies and helped to minimize the side effects.
Genetic Damage—Oh and Peter
Peter was the perfect example of someone who was truly genetically damaged. If he had been born Dauntless, he would have had a chance. That was his aptitude, that was his genetics, and that showed when he took the memory serum.
Allegiant redeemed Peter for me because he described so well the difficulty of himself. He grew up in Candor, which promoted honest living, which would encourage him to do what he wanted to. But what he wanted to do was bad.
"I'm sick of doing bad things and liking it and then wondering what's wrong with me. I want it to be over. I want to start again."
That is genetic damage in a nutshell. He had genetic tendencies that he was not raised to suppress, but he also knew something was wrong with him. So yeah, I buy this world. I buy that there really was an issue which caused the Purity Wars, though it obviously got skewed toward the victors.
And then there's the cities. Do they make logical sense to me? Oddly, yes.
Genetic manipulation took time to "take" so to speak. Generations. So they inserted the corrected/restored DNA into those in the experiments and then had to wait out the generations until that manipulation "took." In the meantime, the struggles GDs went through weren't going to just go away in the waiting, so they gave them cities and then got all high and mighty and forgot it was people they were trying to help, not a faceless "problem."
So yeah, I get it. I get it.
The book was extraordinarily satisfying and I reread parts and almost bought the hardcover at King Soopers, but I really want all three in paperback. I don't care for hardcover, too bulky, but I adore paperbacks. So there's that.
It's the first book in a long time that made me want to write. It also finally cleared up why I couldn't seriously and deeply fanfic in this world. I apparently needed an entire arc. Now, I've got so many plot bunnies, I expect a monster if I don't keep my head on original fiction.
That's my summary. I can't say I loved the book, but I can say I enjoyed it and was satisfied by it and am very glad I finally read it.