Realizing that nothing, truly nothing, is what it seems is hard. What makes it even harder is to have to deal with separating the lies from truth while being in an unknown territory, surrounded by people they don't know whether or not they can trust. Tris and Tobias learn the hard way that they cannot take the new people in their lives at face value. And the confusion is never-ending, from when they leave their faction-based society to the end, all the while learning that the world is a much bigger place than they had ever dreamed.
I saw some pretty negative star-ratings of Allegiant before I got the time to read it myself, and while I understand where those reviewers were coming from completely, I was actually amazed with this ending to a dystopian trilogy like Divergent, because I thought it really took guts to write it the way Ms. Roth did. I loved seeing how lost Tobias, Tris and their friends were once the factions were completely disbanded in their city. The way they didn’t know which way to turn, and how Tobias was torn between his mother and Tris, and he is the one with the most hesitations, from the beginning to the end.
Tris and Tobias managed to leave the city behind, through the border and into the big unknown. Once arriving, they were picked up by two people, one Tobias already knew, and one who knew exactly who Tris was. Allegiant is full of social and moral parallels, which I really appreciated, because really, I think we are ruining the world we live in these days. That is exactly what has happened in this series as well, and rather than trying to clean up their act, people are stubbornly holding on to their views, even when they can see that things are not working the way they would like them to.
Both Tris and Tobias have several really hard choices to make, and they both need to give – and receive – forgiveness. I thought the character growth for both of them was well done, and while there were some plot-holes, I was so immersed in the story that I couldn’t really care about that. The overall story, and the philosophical views it showed me were so strong that I think I could have forgiven more than I did. Society was an important part of Allegiant, because the way people were treating each other outside of the place we knew from Divergent and Insurgent was even worse than how the factions treated each other.
Maybe I’m weird, but I really thought the way things ended was pretty logical, and I don’t think I would have enjoyed Allegiant as much as I did if it had a happy ending. Sometimes, even while crying, I couldn’t see a different way to have the story end and still get all the points across as well as this. Of course, there are some things I would have loved if it was different, too, but I don’t think the actual dystopian and desolate feel to Allegiant, and the series as a whole, would have persevered if that was the case.
If you want a happy ending and a romance, you probably won’t enjoy Allegiant, but since I knew in advance that something was going to happen that had a lot of fans really upset, I may very well have steeled myself before I started reading. What I feel right now, though, is that I read a story about some very strong characters, who managed to see farther than their own well-being. Characters who were able to go forward with something even when it was not what they would have chosen if things had happened differently.
One of the things that appealed to me the most is the philosophical questions Tris and Tobias, as well as some other members in their group, asked themselves once they realized that they had been living a lie – that their whole society was a lie – and that they were like chess-pieces rather than human beings. Dealing with information over-load, and feeling so small compared to the vastness of the world, and trying to figure out everything that had been hidden from them added yet another layer to the dystopian landscape that was created in Divergent. It was also refreshing to see that Tris was able to keep her cool more so than Tobias, because he started to question everything about himself – up to the point when he started to think he couldn’t even trust who he was anymore.
Another important aspect of Allegiant is grief! And how the characters deal with it. In the first two books, loss and grief was a part of the story as well, but it became a bigger thing in Allegiant, almost tangible. The characters all had different things they grieved for, and one they all had in common – the collapse of their society, of their hopes and dreams – and in the end, they had something else that bound them tight together as well. Seeing the various ways they dealt with grief was also important to me, because there is no right or wrong way to grieve – it just happens, and the only thing you can do is to go with it. I did cry! But not a lot, and maybe not in the obvious places, either.
If you’re unsure about wanting to read Allegiant, I guess I’d just suggest that you wait a little while, until the first wave of unhappiness/happiness settles a little. As I said in the beginning, I totally get why other readers were so disappointed, but this ending just really worked for me.
“You’re not very nice,” I say, grinning. “You’re on to talk.” “Hey, I could be nice if I tried.” “Hmm.” He taps his chin. “Say something nice, then.” “You’re very good-looking.” He smiles, his teeth a flash in the dark. “I like this ‘nice’ thing.”
It’s stupid to miss a thing when there are so many people to miss instead, but I miss this train already, and all the others that carried me through the city, my city, after I was brave enough to ride them.
So small as to be negligible. It’s strange, but there’s something in that thought that makes me feel almost… free.
I sit on top of the sweater and examine my knuckles. A few of them are split from punching Caleb, and dotted with faint bruises. It seems fitting that the blow would leave a mark on both of us. That’s how the world works.
“Of course,” I say, and smile. “I would be honored.” If someone offers you an opportunity to get closer to your enemy, you always take it. I know that without having learned it form anyone.
People talk about the pain of grief, but I don’t know what they mean. To me, grief is a devastating numbness, every sensation dulled.
I have spent the past few days somewhere between sleeping and waking, not quite able to manage either extreme.