“But when I do feel all the strength go out of me, and I fall to my knees beside the table and I think I cry, then, or at least I want to, and everything inside me screams for just one more kiss, one more word, one more glance, one more.” – Veronica Roth in Allegiant
From Lauren’s Perspective:
I am going to write this, not as a separate review for each book, but instead as a collective. I read the first two books over a year ago and reread them before reading the final book in the trilogy. I feel that I don’t need to separate the books because they truly tell just one long story. It is the story of a girl named Tris.
I will begin by telling you how much I loved these books. I’m slightly biased because I love most Dystopian YA novels, of which I’ve read at least a dozen at this point, but this one, just like Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy, stand out above the rest. The writing is beautiful and poignant, the characters are flawed but likable, and the plot teaches the reader something about life.
Book one focusses on the very important theme of bravery. Throughout this story, Tris constantly finds herself wondering what it means to be brave. She questions her own bravery as well as those around her, and wonders if her choices in life are making her any braver than other choices might have done.
While learning all of this, Tris also develops her first friendships, her first crush, and her first enemy. She goes through many trials on her way to becoming a full “Dauntless” and while the reader can feel how hard the trials are she is suffering through are, it is also easy to predict that things are only going to get worse. Soon Tris stops asking whether she is brave or not, because her bravery is, time and again, put to the test.
Along with bravery, fear plays a hugely important role in this novel as well. Tris and the others must constantly overcome their fears, better themselves in order to make themselves stronger. Roth writes, “Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.” These moments of revelation are scattered throughout the novel in thoughtful messages that allow Roth to convey her message, but also allow the reader to learn the lessons right alongside Tris. You’re never sure what side you are on while reading these books. There are good and bad people in every faction, there are good people that turn bad, bad people that turn good, and that confusion could distract from the story, but it doesn’t, it helps you question your own moral standings and it asks: How important is bravery to you? The clear answer Roth wants derived from this book is that bravery is everything, being brave means being good, and smart, and selfless, and honest. Being brave means being everything.
Roth does a magnificent job of introducing characters as well. You love Tris from the moment you meet her because of her mousy ways and reluctance to choose between what is right and what she wants, you love her because she is not confident yet, but you know she will be. Later, when we meet Four, you are immediately drawn to his mysterious ways. He is always intriguing, never quite giving away everything that’s going on in his mind, but always saying or doing something that leaves you wanting more. Tris’s friends, Christina and Will are fun and energetic, and just what you’d want for someone like Tris. And Tris’s enemies are just what you’d expect, callous and calculating, despicable, but fun to read.
In the second installment, Tris continues along her path of self-destructive behaviour, hoping to find the answers she is looking for. Is she as selfless as her abnegation parents? What does being Divergent mean? By asking herself these questions, she leads us along a journey where she searches for answers about being selfless in the name of love, and sacrificing yourself in times of war. The whole novel pits her against herself (as well as many other enemies) as she attempts to discover who she really is, and whether that’s who she wants to be or not. Roth writes about Tris and Four, “We both have war inside us. Sometimes it keeps us alive. Sometimes it threatens to destroy us.” The fact that these wars that are happening internally and externally all because of the traumas of their pasts drives this story further and deeper into the realm of a stunning story. Roth’s beautiful writing sets her apart from other YA authors, she finds sentimental and passionate ways of making her story’s theme heard. The second novel in the trilogy connects everything Tris has learned in the first book and adds another level of life lessons to learn, near the end, she says, “I have done bad things. I can’t take them back, and they are part of who I am. Most of the time, they seem like the only thing I am.” It is this vision of Tris that we are left with as we enter the third and final novel of the trilogy. So far brilliant, beautiful, and thought-provoking.
Finally, we reach Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent, the book some fans (including myself) have been waiting ages to read. I feel the need to write: SPOILER ALERT here, in case anyone hasn’t read this, but I hope that those who haven’t read it won’t go searching to read reviews. All the same, I’ll try not to give it all away. Where book one talked of bravery, and book two spoke of selflessness and war, book three speaks of self-sacrifice and what it really means. Tris learned in Insurgent that self-sacrifice isn’t giving up your life for no good reason. She realizes the error of what she did when she walked herself into Erudite headquarters, and knows that that would have been squandering the gift her parents died to leave her with. The gift of her life. So in this book, we learn all about Tris’s search for the perfect way to honour her family, to try to forgive her traitorous brother, and to learn that bravery doesn’t mean giving up. Tris learns her lessons through another series of very hard tests and tough decisions, but as usual she comes out on top of it all. She finally begins to understand her purpose in all of this war, and act the part of “Dauntless” that intrigued her so much when she joined. Roth brings everything full circle rather epically, reverting us back to the themes of the previous novels, answering the questions both Tris and Four had about fear and about bravery. She writes, “There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life. That is the sort of bravery I must have now.” This beautiful passage puts everything that Tris and Four have gone through into perspective. Then Roth continues with her amazing ‘lessons’ that she treats to her readers through this fascinating story, “She taught me all about real sacrifice. That it should be done from love… That it should be done from necessity, not without exhausting all other options. That it should be done for people who need your strength because they don’t have enough of their own.”
Without going into anymore detail for worry of spoiling too much, I will say that I loved the way Allegiant ended. When I finished it I immediately messaged my friend to complain, “How DARE Roth do that!!!??” We complained to one another. But the more we talked about it, the more I began to think, maybe it was the right thing to do. There was really no other way for her to end her trilogy if she wanted it to share the messages I believe she was trying to share from the start. To me, Roth was trying to teach all her readers about the importance of bravery and selflessness, about the complicated nature of good and evil, about the evils of war, and about self-sacrifice. And although I was at first incensed, I came to understand and even accept the ending as something close to perfect. No ends were left untied, and of course in a story like this, there could never really be a happily-ever-after, because it was never that type of story from the beginning. To me, this book ended in a way that, was upsetting, sure, because you grow attached to each and every character, you want to watch them grow and see how they change, but the fact that we were all so attached just proves how good a job Roth did at portraying her characters perfectly. Any book that ends leaving the reader bereft with grief over a fictional character is a job well done, in my eyes. And I don’t think anything Roth wrote was meaningless, or done to get a reaction, I believe she truly wrote what she believed was right for the story, and for that I commend her. And you have to admit, Veronica Roth has got some guts!!!
Overall, I thought the three books were amazing. Some compare here to Suzanne Collins, and rightfully so, they did both write similar stories at around the same time. However, in all honesty, the books couldn’t be more different outside of their Dystopian nature, and both are well written, beautifully executed, and well received, so any comparison, I can only assume would be graciously accepted. If you only had time to read one series of the two, I would be hard pressed to tell you which one I prefer. I actually think, overall, that the heroine in Divergent outshines even Katniss Everdeen in her willingness to do what is right, where Katniss is sometimes forced into that position, Tris takes it on eagerly. And I also find the love story in Divergent more appealing too because there is no choice to be made between Team A or Team B, there is love there for sure, but it isn’t the number one driving force behind the book. I will say that Collins was better at pacing the action throughout her trilogy and had fewer dull points in between the action sequences, so that was easier to read. Basically, both trilogies are worth the read so don’t make me choose, because I can’t.
Plot – 4/5
Writing/Style/Form – 4/5
Characters – 4/5
Enjoyment/Entertainment Value – 5/5
Overall Score – 17/20