Monday, November 25, 2013

Allegiant discussion post (All spoilers, all the time. You''ve been warned!)

I'm serious now, I am going to spoil ALL OF THE THINGS. And I want everyone to come by and help me, so if you haven't read the complete series, or if you intend to read it, then look away!

I am a very, very bloodthirsty reader. I cannot tell you how much I loved that Roth killed off Tris. Seriously. I can't think of one solitary book where the main character dies, that's popular. Oh sure there are a smattering of unpopular or artsy books where the main character is killed, but the absolute surety she would have had about how hated she would be for this move must have been seriously daunting. Especially if she intended to do it from the start. I mean the magnitude of popularity of these books would have made every single interview, signing, and fan interaction painful with the looming promise of their reaction to her death.  But outside of Roth's kahunas in sticking with such an unpopular move, I have some really strong reasons for loving this surprise twist.
   1-it is the ultimate playoff of Tris's upbringing versus her dauntless training. Nurture vs. Nature as it were. However, the way Roth brings the two together so seamlessly in her death is awesome. Not only does she have to be truly selfless without thought or hesitation she also has to be gutsy and brave.  But both of these things, both her Dauntless and Abnegation traits have to be second nature for it to work, because it all happens so fast she doesn't have time to think it through.  I like what Roth is saying about Tris and about the factions with this move. She's saying both of these traits are who she is, she is not Dauntless, Abnegation or Factionless, she is a product of her world and upbringing.
    2-It opens up the story so that Tobias can become his own hero. From book one, Tobias is just a planet orbiting Tris's sun, which works in a simple love story way, but is sad when you look at what a powerful figure he could become. 

"That's what he could be, if he trusted himself more," he adds. "If Four wasn't so plagued with self-doubt, he would be one hell of a leader, I think. I've always thought that."
"I think you're right," I say. "It's when he's a follower that he gets himself into trouble. Like with Nita, Or Evelyn."
What about you? I ask myself. You wanted to make him a follower too.
No, I didn't, I tell myself, but I'm not sure if I believe it.

I think the trick with Tobias is that he needs to loose Tris to discover what he's capable of. With her, he would always just be her follower. His character is one that has more possibilities for growth with her out of the picture, but only if she dies. Breaking up wouldn't work the same way, he needs to have her last, selfless act of bravery to egg him on to get past his victimisation and the habits he's formed over the years to protect himself from it.
  3-Totally beyond either of these things, Roth needed to loose an important character otherwise she would be flaking out on her world. With this last book, Roth has exposed her world as a bleak and very dangerous place.  Tris's rebellious plan for peace is a high risk plan at best, and if Roth didn't sacrifice characters for it to work then it would feel un-genuine to the readers.  And there is nothing worse then an epic struggle ending a series when the grand finale feels too easy.

There were a lot of things I loved about this final book, I liked how introspective Tris became and how her path of self discovery ended. Tris wasn't the warmest of characters in the beginning of this series and after completing Divergent I wasn't sure Roth could convince me to keep reading about her. Yet in each book Tris opened up more, softened a bit and learned a lot. I Ioved seeing her thought process on the small relationship issues in Allegiant, weather it was her sorting through her feelings for Tobias or working through her forgiveness for Caleb. I'm astounded that in three gritty, mostly rebellion filled books, Roth was able to soften this character into someone I could like, if not down right root for.  And instead of feeling crushed by the death of character when she died, I felt vindicated- Tris's death, and the way it happened, solidified for me what a true hero she had become.  If she were to survive and move back to Chicago and get a job and an apartment with Tobias it would have been considerably less poetic.

But I also really enjoyed the way this series went from a Tris-centric story, and gradually morphed into a Tobias-centric story.  Tobias was clearly a fan favorite after book one, and I would love to know if this was the plan all along or if it developed as she met fan demand with her Free Four short story.  Tobias was always the more interesting of the two characters, and I deeply enjoyed the slow switch in narration. Obviously this was also the only way Roth could have put an end on the story beyond Tris's death, but I liked the perspective change it gave on the world and their friends and family.  Tobias's view was always very different then Tris's and I think it helped show the various aspects of all the different rebelling sides, be it in Chicago or outside of it.

Finally I was impressed by how Roth carried off her story with in a story. Having her characters leave Chicago and discover an enormous new world in her final book was risky. Especially since so little was said about what was going on in Chicago while they were with the Bureau. Although I can see how she may have lost readers with this plot development, I think the series would have been considerably less epic without this element. Certainly other dystopian stories, like the Hunger Games, have had successful story arcs without revealing what the larger world picture is outside of their small pocket of society, but it was a refreshing change to see what the BIG picture looked like. Granted it was still only the US, but it gave the reader much more to think about outside of Chicago's small insular problems.  

It also introduces an element of big fish-small pond, big fish-big pond to how the reader views Tobias and Tris's actions. Neither will ever be recognised for the greater good they perpetuated, that Tris gave her life for, yet they've set a course of action that will hopefully create change far beyond their small society. They remain the heroes of their own story but just regular joes outside of it, and that might be my favorite element of all to this series. Because in the end aren't we all the hero of our own story but just a bit player in everyone else's?

What did you think? What did you love about Roth's wrap up and what did you despise. Feel free to moan at length! Especially if you disagree with me.


  1. I was devastated at first when Tris died, but I agree it really was the best way for the book to go. It was a brave move on Roth's part and it came across perfectly. I finished this book and just couldn't see how I could function anymore, the world would surely change. I was that blown away by it.
    I liked seeing Tobias grow but felt that the strong confident man from book 1 was getting a bit of a push over so I liked the fact that he had a strong ending, learning to live without Tris but still doing good.
    This book blew my mind and this is one of my favourite series now.
    I was upset that she killed Uriah though, that seemed like one more unnecessary death that could have been avoided. I kept hoping he would wake up at the last second.
    I wonder what becomes of it all in the future, or if Roth will revisit it sometime, carry on their story. What do you think - yes or no, leave it where it is. I'm torn. Love the epic conclusion, but I'm still curious.

  2. I agree with you that Tris dying was for the best. To me, it seemed like the ultimate expression of being who she was, who she'd always been. Had she let Caleb die, knowing that he wasn't doing it for the right reasons, then she would have regretted it for the rest of her life.

    Sometimes I found it hard to tell Tris and Tobias' voices apart in this book, but I did love the story and think it was satisfying.

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