Book Review: Allegiant (Veronica Roth)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Harper Collins UK

Pages: 576

Release Date: October 22nd 2013

Summary (from Goodreads):

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered – fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningliess. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend to complexities of human nature – and of herself – while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Review:

This is the final installation in a trilogy that has been pretty average for me. While this one does explain a lot, which was long overdue, it also felt really slow and wasn’t particularly enjoyable. The title felt really forced in to fit in with the others too.

The unusual thing about this book is that it is told from dual perspective: from Tris, as per the previous books, and also Four. As soon as I realised this, it felt like a big spoiler as to what was going to happen in the end – I guessed it straight away, so wasn’t really surprised by the climax, which was a shame.

I didn’t enjoy the dual perspective and didn’t really feel like it added anything to the story. The previous books told the story fine from Tris’ point of view, and Four’s just didn’t seem necessary. I also didn’t feel I could tell the difference between the two narrators very well: quite often I’d forget who was narrating and only realise once Tris called Four by name of vice versa.

Again, this book had too much focus on Tris and Four’s relationship. They were constantly arguing, lying to each other, falling out and making up, and it just didn’t seem like a great relationship to be in to me. I could have done without all that drama to be honest!

We get an explanation on why the factions are in place, and it did make a kind of sense, but it was so long in coming that it just didn’t really satisfy: I’d already spent two books thinking they were stupid, and any explanation towards the end just couldn’t cut it.

The ending is a brave move for a YA book and I appreciated that, even if it was easy to see coming. I still wasn’t impressed with the series overall, and it’s not something I’d really want to read again, or watch the accompanying films.

3

Book Review: Insurgent (Veronica Roth)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Harper Collins UK

Pages: 576

Release Date: May 1st 2012

Summary (from Goodreads):

One choice can transform you – or it can destroy you. Tris Prior’s initiation day should have been marked by victorious celebrations with her chosen faction; instead it ended with unspeakable horrors. Now unrest surges in the factions around her as conflict between their ideologies grows.

War seems inevitable; and in times of war sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge and choices will become ever more irrevocable. Tris has already paid a terrible price for survival and is wracked by haunting grief and guilt. But radical new discoveries and shifting relationships mean that she must fully embrace her Divergence – even though she cannot know what might be lost in doing so.

Review:

My main problem with this book, and the series in general is still the absurdity of the factions, but I won’t rant about it again here – see my Divergent review for that piece of fun.

This book had a lot more focus on Tris and Four’s relationship, which really didn’t do anything for me. I wasn’t really enthralled by their relationship in the first book, and it just got more boring here. Their up and down struggles just felt pointless to me, especially in the midst of all the drama – I don’t understand why characters focus on petty relationship things when their whole world is crumbling. But hey, maybe that’s just me.

This book felt a bit like a filler. After the set up of the first book and its climax, this one seemed to dip in the action and drama – there was a lot of time spent running between different factions and talking about what was to be done, when really I wanted something more to happen.

I think my favourite thing about the book was probably Tris’ character development. She’s still shaken after the events of the last book and finds it hard to shake off the guilt of what she’s done. It makes her reckless and rash and gets her in all kinds of trouble as she enters a downward spiral. It’s great to see a character suffering as a result of their actions rather than taking everything in their stride.

Having read all three books in a row, this is probably the weakest of the three for me, as it feels like it’s just a bridge between the opening and the end, rather than really driving the plot forward. The really key bits happened right towards the end, and I wish that could have been slotted into book three and saved us all a lot of Tris and Four back and forth.

3

Book Review: Divergent (Veronica Roth)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Harper Collins UK

Pages: 487

Release Date: May 3rd 2011

Summary (from Goodreads):

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Review:

This is a series that I’ve always meant to read eventually, despite not hearing brilliant things about it from my younger sister. When I saw all three on NetGalley I thought this was the perfect opportunity to finally read and review them.

Overall, I did enjoy this as a book. It’s a pretty interesting story and I liked Tris as a protagonist, even if I didn’t enjoy some of the others. She had clear conflicts and wasn’t Little Miss Perfect, which is always appreciated. You could see the contrasting nature fighting within her and, especially when she thought on her Abnegation life, how she tried to be selfless as she should be but struggled, and wondered if that made her a bad person.

I found a lot of the other characters just didn’t stand out to me. I felt like I was thinking of them as ‘cannon fodder’ y’know, expecting them to be killed off quickly so not getting very attached to what I saw of them. In fairness to me, I was right in a lot of cases! As for Four, and the relationship there, it was a little insta-love for my liking and I just didn’t see what was that attractive about Four – he seemed moody and rude, a proper Brooding YA Hero! I did enjoy his back story though, and didn’t see it coming.

There’s a lot of action in the story and it moved along pretty quickly. It does have a Hunger Games feel about it and I can see why it took off so well and has followed the classic 4 movies for 3 books thing that keeps happening a lot lately.

Those are my positives (mostly, I did slip into negatives a bit there). Now here’s my rant.

I just could not get my head around the factions. It felt silly. I like a good dystopian story, I’m normally on board with seeing different functioning societies, but this one just did not make sense to me. I’m writing this having finished the trilogy, and it makes a little more sense now, but I don’t think it’s really justified if you have to wait until book 3 to understand it.

In The Hunger Games I can understand the districts that people are split into, mostly because it sounds geographical more than anything. But in Divergent people are split into factions based on personality traits. Honesty (Candor), bravery (Dauntless), selflessness (Abnegation), knowledge (Erudite), and peace (Amity). They’re raised in whatever faction their parents are in, then get a chance to choose their own when they’re 16, based on an aptitude test and basically what they want to be. Which again, is silly to me. In this book, a fair few choose Dauntless and are clearly not cut out for it. And then they find out that only 10 of them are going to make the cut anyway, and the rest will have to become factionless (basically homeless).

I just didn’t get it. It felt silly and contrived and kind of ruined the story for me. It’s just so jarring having them talk about people as if they only have one element to their personality, when so many clearly don’t (but aren’t even Divergent, as Tris is, which actually didn’t seem like the big deal I thought it would be). Them having their own clothes and things just felt like a step too far as well.

Okay, rant over.

This is obviously a popular series, whatever I say, and despite my massive problem with the factions I did enjoy reading it. It’s just not going to rival something like Hunger Games in the dystopian YA world for me.

3