"'You know what Mom told me once?' he says, and the way he says Mom, like he didn't betray her, sets my teeth on edge. 'She said that everyone has some evil inside them, and the first step to loving anyone is to recognise the same evil in ourselves, so we're able to forgive them.'"
The strength of Allegiant is how it returns more to the formula that made Divergent a thrilling and entertaining story. Insurgent, while a better story than I initially gave it credit for, was almost a gap filler in between the two stories.
The main focus of Allegiant is about damage, particularly when connected to genetics, which is why I use the highly fitting quote above. The question is whether anyone can ever escape what they are, what their genetics are. Tris all along has had it confirmed over and over that being Divergent, having different genetics, makes her special. That compared to her others are different because they don't have the resistance to the serums that she has and so forth. Yet the question seems to be raised all throughout Allegiant: is it your blood, your genetics, that makes you special or is it the choices you make in regards to what you are born to be?
While this book is nowhere near good enough to be a 5 star book it, to me, was the best book in the series. It made a lot of 'sense' out of many of the previous mysteries and clarified areas I disliked in Insurgent. Sure, Veronica Roth's writing is nowhere near great. For one thing I can see when she 'tells the audience' ideas to a far greater extent than I can with Susanne Collins, and some places where things are meant to be tense and tight, they are written too abruptly which removes some of the necessary tension. Aside from these technical flaws I also disliked the handling of the romance which was, let's say, not the best aspect of the book. Yet for all the hit and miss elements
There are plenty of upset fans over the ending of this novel, yet for me it was a perfectly fitting and gutsy author decision. [spoiler] To kill off your main protagonist, the character everyone has been following and loving, is something not done lightly and it was handled well to fit in with the themes. I doubt G.R.R Martin will ever kill off his most loved characters even if it fits the natural progression of the story - though I dare him to prove me wrong.[/spoiler] There are other fans upset over the new pseudo-science in the book about genetics and so forth, used as explanations. Yet for me this series was never any good at all when it came to the science. It was obvious from book one that any attempt at explanation was there for the storytelling more than anything and that is what science fiction is for, to make up ideas and use them to tell a good story with themes.
I doubt I can express how this story unfolds without giving away spoilers. Suffice to say that the story comes to a natural conclusion regarding the origins of how Chicago became a world of disunified factions. As mentioned, the explanations for this be scoffed at by most scientifically minded individuals, but they are based in some facts.
[spoiler] There are genes which are seen in more aggressive individuals and not seen in more passive individuals for example. But the whole idea of people being genetically damaged to me was an idea used to provide an idea of how people can treat one another and work out ways to 'other' particular groups. In this world it was the GD (Genetically Damaged) and the GP (Genetically Pure) who were at war in this regard, with particular cities being caught in the crossfire as experiment cities. Cities used to create many GP individuals.[/spoiler]
In previous novels the Divergent were the special people with everyone else normal. In this book that gets turned on its head so that the Divergent are normal and everyone else becomes abnormal. For a full explanation of that, if you are a fan, what can I say but read the book.
Now, to close off this review. Which so far has been a bunch of rambling ideas loosely connected, I admit that. I guess what I am trying to express is that for a series I had almost given up on, this brought things back to a nice conclusion for me. Mainly because it had the ideas and the characteristics that I loved in Divergent: the psychological and philosophical attention to human nature. As I mentioned before, this is a novel all about damage and wreckage and learning to deal with that. Tris, special as she is, is shown in her worst and her best in this novel, her flaws laid out. Inside she is still the insecure individual who wants everyone to do what she wants. Four/Tobias is shown as that character motivated by his fear, by his lack of connection to his father, which will leave most young men tormented and insecure. But in the end, how the characters deal with their wreckage is what this book is about and I think it did that well. After all, we all have our baggage and our flaws - learning step by step to deal with it is part of living.
So all up, for all its clear flaws it was an entertaining read. Perhaps I found some of the themes in The Hunger Games to be better expressed or more nuanced, but I found this a better conclusion and a more fitting conclusion to a series.