There are two types of Divergent fan – the angry and the blind.
Don’t get me wrong, Divergent was glorious. Given the choice between it and my copy of Wuthering Heights, both dangled over an open fire in a very Fahrenheit-esque manner, I think I would let Heathcliff burn before Four. This doesn’t seem to say much; my Wuthering Heights is a forsaken creature: broken spine, dog-eared, highlighted and underlined, violated as only an exam text can be, and putting it out of its misery would probably be the best thing. But symbolically, it means a lot. I promise.
Unfortunately, like many YA sagas, the succeeding instalments were squibs. Allegiant was in fact, a horror show. And by that, I do not intend the colloquial meaning, but an actual, honest to God, bloody mess. Probably a result of pressure on authors to churn out sequels, and quickly. But that’s a rant for another time folks!
Finishing Allegiant, I was tearful and fatigued. Having not slept for approximately three days, I felt understandably cheated. I was emotional, and this state was not helped by a lack of Ben & Jerry’s, which would have undoubtedly soothed my aching soul.
So with just cause outlined and this intermission:
We may begin.
If I don’t need to know it, then I probably don’t want to
Roth’s dystopian Chicago was great, until she attempted to explain it. This is so for three reasons:
One – it was unnecessary. I understood that the fence was there for a reason, but I didn’t care what was on the other side. I could have lived in ignorant bliss; I could have written ten Divergent fan-fictions without ever feeling the need to walk right on by Amity’s compound and into the great unknown beyond.
It can be described in terms of a feral cat, a well-meaning human and bathwater – I am cat, Roth is human, text is bathwater.
Roth tries, and fails, to slot her world into our reality, as if she’s trying to turn the trilogy into a series of cautionary tales condemning genetic modification. Veronica, darling, not all literature needs an overarching “message” to make it relevant. Besides, this “message” wasn’t all that convincing. Genetic modification has its uses, it’s not all bad.
Now, this might have been forgiven if it was done seamlessly. Hence, problem number two – the explanation is ridiculous. So this Divergent dystopia is a projection of our future, right? Then it must abide by our rules, period. If people with mutated genes reproduce only with each other, the intention being to eradicate said mutated genes, expect a bad time. Far from generating ‘divergence’, you’re going to make a load of really mutated genes, because that’s just how biology works. Immediately fixing the problem would have meant preventing those pesky mutations from infiltrating the gene pool at all – which enters into the loaded territory of eugenics / genocide. The other option would have been to allow the mutated population to reproduce as nature intended to breed out the unwanted genes – meaning (gasp) letting the experiments out into wider society, where they may go forth and multiply.
Worse than the inaccuracy itself, three, the decision to use it over all other possibilities. Even Carroll’s it-was-all-a-dream clause was less frustrating. There could have been anything on the other side of that fence. Roth chose the real world. It may have been the only explanation she could think of, but this brings us right back to my first point. If there isn’t a valid explanation – don’t give one.
Badass to Nag, Saint to Stonecold Bitch
Tobias becomes a nag, and Tris loses all things endearing about her – essentially.
Something was lost in translation between Divergent and Allegiant. Somehow, and somewhere Four, Tris and pretty much everybody else either had a complete personality overhaul. Evelyn stepping down from her presidential post ring any bells?
Four the badass became Tobias the whinge. And, though I’d like to say this devolution was a product of Roth’s inability to voice a male narrator, he was already doing my nut in by the end of Insurgent. The petty arguments, the jealousy, the poor decision making – all out of character and not at all Dauntless. But the nail in the coffin? His decision to throw what can only be described as a tantrum over the loss of his divergence. A tantrum which should have resulted in firm talking-down from Evelyn, a cup of juice, and a nap.
Though he is still fine as hell.
And when did Tris get so cold? She could be forgiven her petulance in Divergent; when I was sixteen I was still letting my mum pack my lunch and do my laundry. And if that saintly woman was here with me now, there would be few objections. But when in the hell would Tris, Abnegation and saint-in-training, ever let her (disloyal shit) brother sacrifice himself? As if she would let him take any of the sacrificial glory – she would happily and without hesitation volunteer to throw herself into noxious gas and bullets to walk the high road. You know, like she did for the past two books on numerous occasions, without anybody else’s life on the line.
I categorically deny the necessity of Tris’ death
We all knew something was amiss when Tobias became part-narrator of Allegiant, but we held out hope, maybe Roth just wanted to mix things up a bit?
Like hell she did. She intended to do that which no author dared.
I get it, Roth wanted to prove a point: Tris was Abnegation all along, selfless to the core. It was symbolic, cyclical, an allusion to Christ, a representation of her definitive and conclusive character development – but oh lord, why did you kill her like that?
Did you consider my heart Veronica? My young, fragile heart?
I understand why Roth chose to kill Tris, and if done correctly, it would have been powerful – the ultimate display of strength. Jack letting Rose hog the floating door, Juliet stabbing herself for Romeo and Romeo poisoning himself in return, Gatsby taking the rap for Daisy; but it wasn’t organic. Roth should have just let the floating death gas actually kill Tris. I mean, god, she did all that to be shot, with a gun, and by David no less? I assumed the girl was meta-human after all that – talk about a low blow. This situation was engineered so that Tris could take an ultimate hit for the team, so she could become completely selfless, the Jesus of Roth’s dystopia. And yet it failed on all counts because Tris’ death was so obviously rushed and unnecessary.
A bit of trivia to finish: what’s worse than killing a character off? Killing a character off badly. Take note.