Oh man. Ohhh man. I read Allegiant the week after it came out; but I've been stalling on this review up until now.
The reason why is simple: because I've invested so much love in the Divergent series, and, like a parent whose kid brings home a less than satisfactory report card, I'm not angry with Veronica Roth after finishing it. Just disappointed.
I guess it's worth noting that a common trend in dystopian YA trilogies is a significant dip in quality from the first book to the second; and again from the second to the third. Even the massive juggernaut that is the Hunger Games trilogy suffers from this problem: if Mockingjay had been the first book in the trilogy, I guarantee you that it would not have become a global phenomenon. And maybe it was stupid of me, but I really, really hoped that Allegiant would be different.
I mean, Veronica Roth really seemed to care about her world and her characters. There was such a sureness and a sense of purpose in her writing, like she truly knew what was going on and wasn't just making it all up as she went along. I was so excited for her to pull back the curtain on the warring factions and show us all the corrupted glory behind it - and yet when the time came, she didn't deliver. Not even a little bit. In fact, I can think of literally nothing about this novel that didn't disappoint me in some way.
Tris and Tobias' alternating perspectives sounded great in theory, but in execution, it quickly became clear that not only was this not helping the story, it was actually damaging it. Roth's weaknesses were on display as I found myself flipping back to check who was talking every time there was a chapter break - that's how indistinguishable the main character's voices became. As for the rest of the characters; well, the less said about them, the better - either they fade into the background, meet some undeserved fate, or become completely 2-dimensional.
The plot, too, is underwhelming; serving up some heavy-handed allegorical lessons without the gutsy, meaty fun that accompanied the original clash between the five factions. Everything I as a reader believed to be important to the world of the series was systematically stripped away and devalued; and not in an awe-inspiring way. Instead, it just left me feeling confused, sad, and very much alone - rather like the characters who manage to squeak past Roth's merciless death count.
The only thing that truly stands out about Allegiant is its ending, and all that served to do was put the entire series in a new, depressing light. Some people might say that what she does is a bold move, but in reality it's just like the rest of the book: unfocused, heavy-handed, and ultimately empty.
The sad thing is, the Divergent series used to be my absolute favorite. Now...well, I'm not even sure if I'll see the movie. Sorry, V-Roth, but this effort was subpar at best.