Saturday, October 24, 2015

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I woke up one October morning, got the kids off to school, and picked up my coffee and my Kindle. Allegiant had downloaded at midnight and I was eager for the grand finale of the Divergent trilogy from Veronica Roth. I read through the morning and at lunchtime was finished. Handkerchief, please! I thought Veronica was brilliant. I hurried off to post my 5-star review on Amazon.
I was shocked to see so many 1-star reviews. Do young adults not have the ability to appreciate great writing even if they don't like the ending? While some reviewers rightly pointed out some loose ends that were not tied up and had some legitimate questions about certain plot details, review after review was the venting of children who were angry because the writer did not do things "their way." If you can do better, kids, please write your own excellent series of novels. I will be glad to read them and give them a fair-minded review.
What follows is a spoiler-free review to give you a taste of the book. Start at the beginning of the trilogy, though!
In Divergent, Veronica Roth introduces us to a city organized around five groups. Each faction values one virtue above all others. At age sixteen, at a Choosing Ceremony, young people must choose to join the faction in which they were raised or transfer to another faction, leaving family behind forever. Those who fail initiation into a faction become factionless, and live as outcasts, doing the jobs nobody else will do. Those who have aptitude for more than one faction are called "divergent" and are in danger of death from certain leaders who fear them for their ability to think and act outside the boxes built for them by the founders of their community.
Tris Prior is divergent. She also discovers secret after secret as we follow her through the books. In Insurgent, the secrets really pile up and the characters have to sort through many questions, such as:
  • Who can be trusted? Anyone?
  • Who/what is worth dying for?
  • What kind of world do we want to live in?
Veronica explores themes such as heredity versus environmental factors, the ethics of experimentation on human populations--especially without informed consent of all participants, obedience to government versus obedience to moral principles, and the nature of love, e.g. do we just fall in love, or is it a choice we make every day? This is a lot for young adults to process, but the questions are important. Allegiant asks these questions and shows some possible answers.
I recommend this series to teens and older. Because of the important questions they ask, these books could be a good literature unit for homeschoolers. I also recommend it for family reading. I look forward to my daughters reading this so we can discuss it together as we have so many other books.