Veronica Roth discusses the end of Allegiant

If you’re read my review of Allegiant, you know that I was not happy with it. Not just because I didn’t like the ending, but because I didn’t feel it made sense. Veronica Roth wrote a post on her blog today (shared below) discussing  how she reached the conclusion and why she felt it was the only way (you can see her full post here).

Beware of SPOILERS

Veronica Roth wrote:

In my college creative writing program, we had a rule: during workshop, when your story is being critiqued, you aren’t allowed to say anything. This is to give your peers the freedom to interpret your work and point out the flaws in it without you shouting them down; it’s also because your defense doesn’t actually mean anything, though you might think it does. If your explanations and intentions are not clear to the reader, buried inside the text, that isn’t the reader’s fault, it’s the author’s.

Responding to readers’ comments about the Divergent books has always felt the same way to me, like it would just be me shouting other people down when I should be letting them speak freely, and as badly as some criticism hurts (and it does, because I’m only human, after all), I never, ever want that.

So that’s not what I’m trying to do here. A lot of people have been asking me why Tris died at the end of Allegiant, and what I do want to do here is answer that question as well as I can. But if you’re concerned about my voice imposing itself over your own, please stop reading this post– that’s the last thing I want. I don’t want to tell you how to read these books or even to tell you there’s one right way to read them. I just want to offer you some insight into how I personally found my way to this ending, if you’re interested in hearing it.
Before I get into it, I’m going to say a few things, though:

1. You are allowed—encouraged!— to continue to feel however you want to feel, or think however you want to think, about the ending, no matter what this blog post says. I’m the author, yes, but this book is yours as well as mine now, and our voices are equal in this conversation.

2. Just because I try to do something with my writing doesn’t necessarily mean that I do it well, so there is also room to say “Okay, I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t think that what you were trying to do worked.”

I’ve said before that this ending was always a part of the plan, but one thing I want to make clear is that I didn’t choose it to shock anyone, or to upset anyone, or because I’m ruthless with my characters—no, no, no. I may have been ruthless with other characters, in the past, but not with her, never with her. And I wasn’t thinking about any readers when I wrote this book; I was thinking about the story, because trying to meet the expectations of so many readers would be paralyzing. There’s no way to please everyone, because that mythical book with the ending that every single person wants can’t exist—you want different things, each one of you. The only thing I can do, in light of that fact, is write an honest story as best I can.

What happened to Tris’s parents at the end of Divergent was in some ways the catalyst for the rest of the series. Before that point, Tris had rejected her parents’ values and beliefs in a very tangible way by choosing Dauntless. She struggled throughout Divergent to reconcile two identities: her Abnegation identity, which Four points out to her, and her Dauntless identity. It’s just before her mother gives up her life that Tris figures out how those identities fit together, combining selflessness and bravery and love for her family and love for her faction all together under one umbrella: Divergent. It’s a moment of triumph followed by a moment of total devastation, when Natalie dies so that Tris can escape. And then Andrew follows soon after.

Tris’s parents’ deaths were revelatory moments, both for Tris and for me. For Tris, they seemed to awaken her to the power of self-sacrifice out of love; she later handed over the gun to Four rather than kill him, essentially giving her life rather than taking his. She said something in that moment about the power of self-sacrifice, but her actions don’t quite apply that power in the best way—letting herself get killed, at that time, was maybe noble from a romantic perspective, but wouldn’t have saved the Dauntless from being simulation-controlled zombies, and wouldn’t have saved Tobias from his own simulation.

For me, Tris’s parents’ deaths made me realize that though Tris had tangibly abandoned her parents’ faction, she was never quite able to separate herself from them, never quite wanted to; that the true struggle of her character, the one she had never been able to let go of, was to figure out how to honor her parents while still maintaining her distinct identity. That was her struggle in Divergent in a more subtle way, but it was also her struggle in a far more obvious way in Insurgent.

Tris spent Insurgent warring with grief and guilt in light of her parents’ deaths and of her hasty actions in shooting Will to save her own life (which is the opposite of what she does for Tobias, further showing that Tris hadn’t quite figured out how to be selfless at that point). The “selfless” acts she thought she was performing in Insurgent—charging upstairs during the Erudite-Dauntless attack unarmed, spying on Max’s conversation with Jack Kang without a weapon, and then handing herself over at Erudite headquarters even when she’s asked not to—were more self-destructive than anything. She rationalized those self-destructive acts by calling them selfless, but when she was about to be executed, she realized that her parents didn’t give their lives for her just so that she could die when it wasn’t necessary. She realized that she wanted to live.

She emerged from that near-execution with new maturity: she valued her own life, she wanted to solve problems without resorting to violence, she sought truth over destruction. That Tris had not quite figured out what selflessness was to her, but she had discovered what it wasn’t: self-annihilation.

That was how Tris was at the beginning of Allegiant. She was no longer risking her life for no reason. She was still struggling with her beliefs about selflessness—but this time, she was wondering whether Caleb, when he volunteered to go on the one-way mission to the Weapons Lab, was motivated by love or guilt. She struggled with whether it was ethical to let Caleb’s sacrifice happen throughout the rest of the book. And while she was struggling with his decision, she was also struggling with her own identity; her constant questioning about what selflessness is was inextricably linked to her sense of self, as it had been for the past two books. This struggle finally came to a head when she and Caleb were running toward the Weapons Lab, and she said this: “He is a part of me, always will be, and I am a part of him, too. I don’t belong to Abnegation, or Dauntless, or even the Divergent. I don’t belong to the Bureau or the experiment or the fringe. I belong to the people I love, and they belong to me—they, and the love and loyalty I give them, form my identity far more than any word or group ever could.” (455)

After that, Tris entered the same role her parents played when they died for her. She loved and gave her life for Caleb even after he betrayed her, the same way her parents loved and gave their lives for her after she left them for Dauntless.

But this time, unlike in Insurgent, the act wasn’t self-destructive. Tris’s peculiar relationship to the serums was that she was able to overcome them (like the Dauntless fear simulations and the Candor truth serum) unless on some level she wanted them to work (like with the Amity peace serum). So when she passed through the death serum outside the Weapons Lab and it didn’t kill her, that suggested she wasn’t seeking her own destruction. She was truly acting out of love for Caleb.

At the end, she had a conversation with David where she told him her beliefs about sacrifice, that it should come from love, strength, and necessity. That was a Tris who knew what she believed about selflessness. Who knew who she was. Who knew what she wanted to do. In each book she tried to emulate her parents’ sacrifice, and in each book she didn’t seem to understand what that sacrifice really was, until Allegiant. And it’s only in Allegiant, when she had a strong sense of identity, when she had a keen understanding of what she (and her parents) believed about selflessness, that her journey was over.

I thought about reaching out with my authorial hand and snatching her from that awful situation. I thought about it and I agonized over it. But to me, that felt dishonest and emotionally manipulative. This was the end she had chosen, and I felt she had earned an ending that was as powerful as she was.

In Insurgent, before she’s “executed,” she screams into nothingness, “I’m not done yet!”

In Allegiant, she asks her mother, “Am I done yet?”

And her mother says, “Yes. My dear child, you’ve done so well.”

I understand being upset about the loss of a character you care about, and I’m so glad you care about her, because I do, too. I am proud of the way this ending mirrors those of the other books, of the way it reflects the realistic (given the dystopian, dangerous setting) losses of those books, the way it shows what Tris is truly made of, and the way it concludes her hard-earned transformation. I think her love for her brother is beautiful, powerful.

I have heard a wide range of reactions to the book, and I accept and respect all of those reactions as valid. But my personal feelings about the ending haven’t changed. I will miss her, that Tris voice in my head. But I’m so, so proud of her strength.

**********************************************************************************

While I’m glad Roth took the opportunity to respond and applaud her attitude about the whole thing (because you know she’s taken a whole lot of crap for this book), I have to go with the #2 response she listed above: “Okay, I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t think that what you were trying to do worked.”

Monday’s Minutes

MM

Monday’s Minutes is my weekly post where I share what I’m reading and what I’m reading next.

WHAT I’M READING

Runner

Runner by Patrick Lee. I’m only a few chapters in, but so far I’m really enjoying it. It’s intriguing and fast paced.

WHAT I’M READING NEXT

An Untamed Heart

An Untamed Heart by Lauraine Snelling. This is an ARC I’ve had for a little while and I keep getting distracted by other books, but I’m determined to read it next.

What are you reading?

 

Resist by Sarah Crossan – 3 stars (out of 5)

Resist (Breathe, #2)

Synopsis from Good Reads:

The sequel—and conclusion—to Sarah Crossan’s Breathe. Three teen outlaws must survive on their own in a world without air, exiled outside the glass dome that protects what’s left of human civilization. Gripping action, provocative ideas, and shocking revelations in a dystopian novel that fans of Patrick Ness and Veronica Roth will devour.

Bea, Alina, and Quinn are on the run. They started a rebellion and were thrown out of the pod, the only place where there’s enough oxygen to breathe. Bea has lost her family. Alina has lost her home. And Quinn has lost his privileged life. Can they survive in the perilous Outlands? Can they finish the revolution they began? Especially when a young operative from the pod’s Special Forces is sent after them. Their only chance is to stand together, even when terrible circumstances force them apart. When the future of human society is in danger, these four teens must decide where their allegiances lie. Sarah Crossan has created a dangerous, and shattered society in this wrenching, thought-provoking, and unforgettable post-apocalyptic novel.

First off, I want to give props to Sarah Crossan for letting a series end at two books. These days so many YA books are just automatically trilogies – and often more. That’s not to say that some series don’t deserve to be, but more often than not I find that the story just becomes agonizingly long and drawn out way past the time I’ve stopped caring about the characters. I think that Breathe deserved another book and we got it, but Crossan told the story without drawing it out, even though she easily could have.

Resist picks up where we left off in Breathe and is told in multiple 1st Person POV from Alina, Bea, Quinn, and Ronan. Ronan’s POV is new to this installment and since it’s been awhile since I read the first book, it took me awhile to get a handle on who he is and why I should care about him. But once I got a little further into the book he became one of my favorite characters.

There’s a lot of additional characters introduced when Alina, Silas, and the rest of their small group that escaped The Grove makes it to Sequoia, a fortress they believe is part of the Resistance. Basically none of these characters were likable in the least, but they weren’t really supposed to be. I liked how we discover it isn’t actually part of the Resistance and their leader, Vanya, is crazypants. But I think a little less time could have been spent there since not a whole lot happened.

I did not like that Quinn and Bea were separated for almost all of the book. Quinn even says once towards the end when they split up yet again,

“We keep bloody leaving each other,” I say, which wasn’t part of the plan. The plan was to find Bea and never let her go.

However, I did like that the focus of this book was towards the war between the Ministry and the Resistance and Sequoia, and not so much on the romance. Because if it’s focus was the romance then there definitely would have been a love triangle between Bea, Quinn, and Ronan. Instead, it’s just hinted at, with Ronan realizing it would be a lost cause since Bea has always had a thing for Quinn.

*SPOILER*

I wasn’t happy that Alina died in the end. I recently read another book where the main character died and it was poorly done and ridiculous. At least in this book, though, it made sense with the story. Where in that other book (I don’t want to spoil it for people who haven’t read it so I don’t want to name the book) the heroine died basically because her own hasty, ill-advised plan failed, Alina’s death is not of her own making. She doesn’t set out to be a hero or make a big sacrifice. She’s thrown into a situation where there’s only one way out to save the pod and she does it. Where I would’ve been much happier if Crossan let Alina live through it – and she could have – I can understand the decision to kill her off. Also, while Alina is a main character, she not the main character. I would’ve been way more mad if Bea had been killed instead.

*END OF SPOILER*

Overall, I enjoyed Resist, but was left a little unsatisfied. Where I’m glad Crossan didn’t try to squeeze another book out of it, I felt like we could’ve used just a little more story. I would’ve liked to have seen what happened to the secondary characters at the end of the book, other than just the couple we did see. I would recommend this book to anyone who read Breathe and would recommend the series to those who enjoy Dystopian YA that’s light on the romantic clichés.

 

Trust in Me by J. Lynn – A quick review

Trust in Me (Wait for You, #1.5)

Synopsis from Good Reads:

It’s Wait for You as you’ve never seen it. Trust in Me lets you in on Cam’s side of the #1 New York Times Bestselling story.

Cameron Hamilton is used to getting what he wants, especially when it comes to women. But when Avery Morgansten comes crashing into his life – literally – he finally meets the one person who can resist his soulful baby blues. But Cam’s not ready to give up. He can’t get the feisty and intriguing girl out of his head.

Avery has secrets, secrets that keep her from admitting the feelings Cam knows she has for him. Will persistence (and some delicious homemade cookies) help him break down her barriers and gain her trust? Or will he be shut out of Avery’s life, losing his first real shot at the kind of love that lasts forever?

I think I may have actually liked Trust in Me better than Wait for You. I enjoyed the extra scenes of Cam with his family and friends a lot. However, I was disappointed in Cam’s POV from some of the scenes we already know from Wait for You. Most of them didn’t really add anything, other than Cam thinking Avery is awkward or beautiful. Or detailing his, ahem, anatomical reactions to her. I also was disappointed that not all of the scenes of Cam and Avery together were in this book. For example, the whole middle part of their trip to his house for Thanksgiving.

Overall, though, I enjoyed this book. It came out the same day as Allegiant and it took me 3 days to finish Allegiant because I kept getting distracted by this book. I think I would give this book 3 stars. I was going to give it 2 just because I don’t usually enjoy New Adult fiction and I gave Wait for You 2, but this was better than that and I enjoyed it way more than I did Allegiant. I would recommend this book to all those who read Wait for You.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth – 2 stars (out of 5)

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)

Read a synopsis here.

I was SO excited for this book. I had already decided that it would be wonderful. I wonder if I would’ve disliked it as much if I had lower expectations for it. Because I really didn’t like it. 2 stars is being generous, but since I loved the beginning of the series I just couldn’t bring myself to give it less.

Before I start with the spoilers – because I really can’t honestly discuss this book without spoilers – I want to comment on the writing style. As we all know by now, multiple 1st person POV is my favorite. Allegiant is told through alternating chapters from both Tris and Four’s 1st person POV. It did not work. The voices were not different at all. When they were in a group and not just in their own head, I had trouble remembering who’s POV it was. Even when they were just in their own heads, Four still sounds exactly like Tris.

While I liked having Four’s POV for the sake of getting more story, the multiple 1st person just didn’t do it justice. I also didn’t  like that it meant so much of the story was told from Tris and Four being away from each other. More on this to follow…

For those that don’t want to be spoiled, I will just say this. Allegiant starts out fast paced, but then slows down. If you’ve read the series so far, I would still recommend that you read it, but it’s one of the worst endings to a series I’ve ever read.

SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT!

Back to the thought from above. Four (this book has me thinking of him as Tobias, but I liked Four from Divergent better, so I’m going to refer to him as such) and Tris had a lot of strife in Insurgent, but seemed to reconcile at the end. I was not looking for more strife between them in this book, but that’s what I got. Yes, they ultimately reconciled and that was good, but so much of this book was them spent away from each other or fighting when they were together. And it all seemed so pointless. They act like adults in every other area of their lives, but when it came to their relationship, they really are just teenagers.

I started to dislike Four a bit in this book. He stopped being the damaged but strong guy we all fell in love with and just focused on being damaged. So much of the time was him feeling sorry for himself. Yes his parents suck and obviously left him with scars, but he was such a great character because even though he still struggled, he was able to overcome it and became this really great, smart, thoughtful, strong guy. In Allegiant he just totally backslid for almost the whole book.

I felt like most of the time there was just too much going on. New characters. New government. Genetic Damage. Revolutions. Experiments. Serums. The Fringe. Lies, lies, and more lies. And none of it was really done that well, either.

I also thought Tris’ death was totally uncalled for. First off, I think it’s dumb to kill the main character in any series and that it was basically done for shock value. The whole second book was basically dedicated to Tris trying to sacrifice herself to make her parents proud and then realizing that was wrong. And then in this book she does just that. There was a lot of lead up to this, a lot of talk about sacrificing for the greater good and that it’s only worth doing if it’s in the name of love. So she takes Caleb’s place because she loves him even if she can’t forgive him for his earlier sins and that’s supposed to make us feel like her death is very meaningful. But it’s not. The whole memory serum plan and the need for a sacrifice just seemed so contrived. I really do not see the purpose of killing her off at all.

So overall, I was super disappointed with Allegiant. I felt like the biggest questions – about the Divergents and the Edith Prior video and their world in general – were answered almost right away and then a new, way less interesting plot took over. I didn’t think  it was possible for the end of a series to disappoint me more than Requiem (the Delirium series) did, but I think this book did it. So read this book if you’ve already invested in the series, and then go back and read Divergent and pretend Allegiant doesn’t exist. That’s what I plan on doing.

Top Ten Tuesday: Character Names I Love/Unusual Character Names

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish are Character Names I Love/Unusual Character Names.  I’m going to split these up between the two.

NAMES I LOVE

1. Magnus Bane – The Mortal Instruments series

2. Augustus Waters – The Fault in Our Stars

3. Étienne St. Clair – Anna and the French Kiss

4. Dimitri Belikov – The Vampire Academy

5. Adrian Ivashkov – The Vampire Academy / Bloodlines (I apparently have a thing for Russian names)

6. West Grayer – Dualed

UNUSUAL NAMES

7. Cricket Bell – Lola and the Boy Next Door

8. Penryn Young- Angelfall

9. Renesmee Cullen – Breaking Dawn

10. Plutarch Heavensbee – Catching Fire/Mockingjay

Monday’s Minutes

MM

Monday’s Minutes is my weekly post about what I’m reading and what I’m reading next.

WHAT I’M READING

Another Little Piece

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn. So far I’m a little disappointed by this book. I thought it was going to be a kind of psycho-thriller, but it turned out to be paranormal. Which doesn’t make it bad, it’s just not what I was expecting (or wanting). I thought about giving up on it early on, but I’m far enough in now that I’m interested to see how it ends. And as far as I can tell it’s a stand-alone and not a series, which I’m happy about because I have far too many series already on my plate to start a new one.

WHAT I’M READING NEXT

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)

ALLEGIANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It comes out tomorrow. It’s the first book I’ve ever pre-ordered. I can’t even tell you how excited I am to start it. Apparently there are some people who already got it somehow and are posting spoilers galore so I am steadfastly avoiding anything regarding it online. So excited.

What are you reading?