When I first sat down to write my review of Allegiant, I was well on my way to over 750 words of why this book didn’t do it for me. It was a full on rant. But while I was showering last night, and processing everything – both what I had read and what I had written, I realized that while my complaints are still valid, they were also emblematic of something else:
I’m (temporarily) burning out on young adult fiction, I could say it’s just against the dystopian sub-genre, but frankly these are issues that often turn up in fantasy and other YA sub-genres as well.
Most of my grievances against this book are problems I have with the as a whole: the cliché of it all being a government plot; the grossly over-simplified science with the tinge of Eugenics that drives the entire plot along (murder gene, really?) the enforced notion of a black and white morality even when hints of a story that wants to be more nuanced peek through and finally an ending that while definitely brave on the part of the author (I will give her a standing ovation for having the balls to do what she did; the story called for it and anything else would have been a cop out) still manages to slide into optimism for the future. Can’t we have ONE novel where things might not actually improve?
The one complaint I will keep from that first draft is over point-of-view switching. The author stated she did so because she needed to do so to tell the story she wanted to tell. When an author changes the way she did it tells me that they couldn’t make their story work and you can’t convince me otherwise. I don’t think we gained much from the story being told the way that it was: first person is by definition a limited view point. If she wanted to give us insight into Four, either keep it in the short stories or she should have written the books in 3rd person omniscient instead. I see the change as necessary later on, but she could have pulled a J.K. Rowling and changed when absolutely necessary instead. It would have been more impactful. As it was, the two voices were so similar and they were interacting with most of the same people so it wasn’t always easy to keep things straight.
So after all that…can I recommend the book?
Personally, I’d be lying if I said this was anything other than a Skip It. But, in the interest of fairness I do recognize that I might be more biased than normal due to my burnout. So instead, I will give it a conditional Borrow It. Those reading the book for FourTris will probably enjoy it. If you were reading it for the world building or if you get annoyed by same kind of things I do, then you may or may not.
The series as a whole I will leave as a Borrow It and take on a book by book basis. Ultimately, like Hunger Games, I think the first book was the strongest. On the whole, I think that (despite my issues with that series) that it’s also the stronger series so newbies to the dystopian subgenre should start there first. Readers looking for more interesting fare should probably look for adult titles.