Sunday, 29 December 2013

Allegiant, by Veronica Roth

1.5 stars

A disappointing and messy ending to what had been, up until this point, a decent little sci-fi series, in this instalment we find out what's outside the gates of the city as well as finding out that it wasn't worth finding out, some peripheral characters meet their ends and I struggle to care, Tris is a hypocrite who's not only never, ever wrong but a bit of a dick about it too, and Tobias gets to narrate his own chapters while I wish he wouldn't, as he's quickly revealed to be squirmy with fear and self-doubt, and I soon learn to hate his parts.

Starting in the aftermath of the Prior video, Tris and co have been arrested by Evelyn and the Factionless who've not only taken over the city and abolished the faction system, but banned anyone else from leaving too. Tobias is working for his ma, while slinking not at all stealthily about behind her back to secure Tris's release. Which is achieved through Tris doing what she's best at, and lying her head off.

Quickly joining the Allegiant, a secret club who want to stick to the city's apparent founding purpose and send a Divergent army out into the world, Tris and her friends (plus a few others) are soon hurtling towards the gate and the outside world. Which is where we start to learn that the whole series up until this point has been bollocks, that everything we think we know about Tris's world is a lie and, unfortunately, that the truth is a little nonsensical and not very interesting. There's no need for a Divergent army outside after all, and we're certainly not going to be seeing any apocalyptic battles any time soon. Instead we'll be stuck in a compound not far into a society that's still divided (over genetic purity, this time) where we'll be learning some dodgy stuff about genetics, meeting lots of new characters that I don't care about, finding out that Tris's mum had a boring love triangle, discovering that there's a Bureau for Genetic Welfare and that they're idiots, and deciding that it's totally cool to do something you think is evil if you're the one doing it.

**********SPOILERS BELOW**********

Turns out that the city is an experiment. The Government, having started screwing with people's genes in an effort to promote more desirable traits, screwed up and damaged them instead. This resulted in the Purity Wars, which in turn resulted in half the country dead. So the Bureau did a few 'corrections' and popped people into secure areas, cutting them off from the outside world in the hope that in several generations' time the bad genes wouldn't have just been passed down but would have healed themselves instead. They would know it was successful when a number of Divergent emerged, at which point they'd be scooped out to share their good genes with the outside world.

With Tris's city on the verge of blowing the experiment and Evelyn threatening to unleash a death serum on the population, the Bureau now want to re-set the city's memories and brainwash them back to square one. Angry that the Bureau would stoop so low as to steal people's memories, Tris proposes to stop re-setting the Bureau's memories instead. Trouble is, the resetting serum is in a room where the air is full of death serum, and so whoever takes on the task will be undertaking a suicide mission...

Whilst I hadn't expected the series to be able to live up to my expectations after the opener, having suffered a bit of a lull in Insurgent, I still hadn't expected to see such a big drop in quality. Tobias's chapters didn't add anything for me other than irritation, and at times sounded virtually indistinguishable from Tris. After two books getting us here, Roth had awful lot of information to cram in about how the world actually did work and didn't handle it particularly well, having our new characters take giant information dumps all over the pages. With everything from entering the outside world on making me want to yell at the book, I found that while I liked that Roth went where she did with the ending, and while in keeping with Tris's character, it was robbed of any punch by my having long stopped caring what happened to these stupid people and their stupid societies.

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