Allegiant is the final installment in the Divergent series, a young adult dystopia in which the society living in ruined Chicago is divided in 5 factions, each upholding their own values and codes of living. The previous installment left readers with a feeling of anticipation for the ultimate fight, as it had been revealed that the faction system was set up as an experiment and the Divergent were asked to go out and help the outside world.
Life inside of the city is full of discord, with Four’s mother having taken power and disbanding the factions, so it takes some planning for Tris, Four, and a few friends to plan their escape. Several struggles ensue, but almost immediately our group of misfits is found and brought to the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, where the long awaited conspiracy about their city is revealed. Long ago, the US government began altering people’s genes in order to make them better citizens, with disastrous consequences. In order to fix people’s genes, several long-term isolated experiments were set up to allow for a natural evolution over multiple generations. Outside of Chicago, the world is divided into the genetically pure (GP) and the genetically damaged (GD) who only tenuously live among one another. Tris is found to be GP, but while Four displays divergent qualities, he finds out his genes are still GD.
Although I did enjoy the book (and even liked some controversial choices), I cannot give it a very good rating. What happened to the revolution that was supposed to happen when Tris left Chicago? Nothing! They weren’t needed! I would have been okay with this twist if only the alternative was better than our heroes sitting around trying to figure out what to do with themselves.
This series claims to be in the genre of scifi, but all this talk of GP and GD is never explained on any scientific level. Every time the book says “genes” you could replace it with “magic” and it would have been more believable. And what are all these serums? Memory serum, truth serum, death serum… why can’t we teach teenagers to use scientific words, or, at the very least, not simplify all biochemicals to their most derivative purposes. It’s also very cool that Tris is the only person who can resist serums, but we never have any explanation as to why.
Tris and Four have alternating viewpoints, which is a first for this series. Unfortunately it was executed very poorly. Most of the time I couldn’t tell their voices apart. Most of the time they are together. And underutilized of all is that the differing viewpoints cause very little tension between two characters who are in love but are struggling in their new world.
In the end, I’m left wondering what message Roth was trying to communicate. Is love the ultimate answer, because that’s how Four saves the city in the final act? Was this a commentary on GMOs? Or government control? The characters never discuss science or politics. Mostly, I think this was a book about bravery and sacrifice, but the characters are simple and predictable, so those themes were less evident as well.
So overall, Allegiant was okay. I’d recommend it to those who have read and enjoyed Divergent and Insurgent and need closure, but so as you know, Divergent is as good as it gets.