Okay first of all I want to say that this:
I was so afraid that we would just keep colliding over and over again if we stayed together, and that eventually the impact would break me. But now I know that I am like the blade and he is like the whetstone--
I am too strong to break so easily, and I become better, sharper, every time I touch him.
STOPPED ME IN MY TRACKS AND STABBED ME RIGHT IN THE SOUL, FUCKING HELL. SO GOOD. SO. GOOD. Removing it from Veronica Roth's custody and re-assigning it to Artemis Crock IMMEDIATELY. SO. GOOD.
ANYWAY, ON TO THE BAD STUFF AKA LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE. JUST GO AWAY IF YOU LIKED THIS BOOK BC WE CAN PROBABLY NEVER TALK ABOUT IT AND I WILL JUST PISS YOU OFF.
[THIS POST KEEPS GROWING BECAUSE I KEEP THINKING OF NEW THINGS THAT MAKE NO SENSE. THIS BOOK GETS WORSE THE MORE I THINK ABOUT IT. This post is my masterpiece of rage. I will be perfecting it until I die.]
-TRIS DIED. I address that first only because it is the BIG SPOILER coming out of this, not because it was a huge problem for me or even something that impacted me hugely. "IS SHE FOR REAL DEAD?" I asked, flipping ahead to see the POV heading on future chapters. "MAYBE SHE'S FOR REAL DEAD." And then Tobias found out a few chapters later and I'm sorry but I was so far past giving a fuck about anything at that point that I just LAUGHED AND LAUGHED AND LAUGHED and gave ZERO fucks. And then there was that TWO YEARS LATER epilogue where he's carrying her ashes around and SORRY BUT I CRACKED UP AT THAT TOO BECAUSE DIVERGENT!TOBIAS AND ANIMORPHS!TOBIAS CARRYING AROUND THEIR DEAD WARRIOR GIRLFRIEND'S ASHES WAS TOO MUCH SYMMETRY FOR ME. ALL OF THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE.
-But also I should say that because people on Twitter are NOT SUBTLE AT ALL and the internet has 100% forgotten how not to pass spoilers on or that one person saying something cryptic might not be a spoiler but EVERYONE SAYING DIFFERENT CRYPTIC THINGS offers a pretty conclusive picture: I WENT IN ASSUMING FOUR WOULD DIE AT THE END, BC I KNEW PEOPLE WERE OUTRAGED ABOUT SOMETHING BIG, AND WHAT ELSE COULD IT BE? But then by the time I was like 200 pages in I stopped believing he died, because I was screaming "THIS BOOK IS SO FUCKING STUPID" out loud at least once a chapter, and I thought maybe the big problem with Allegiant was just that ALLEGIANT IS FUCKING TERRIBLE.
-FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, VERONICA ROTH: WHEN IT CAME TIME TO CHOOSE WHICH YA FRANCHISE FINAL INSTALLMENT TO EMULATE, WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK MADE YOU THINK "WELL, I THINK I'D LIKE TO COMBINE THE IMPOSSIBLY UNWIELDY AND OVERLY AMBITIOUS POLITICAL ASPECT OF MOCKINGJAY WITH THE EIGHT BILLION NEW CHARACTERS NOBODY GIVES A FUCK ABOUT FROM THE LAST THIRD OF BREAKING DAWN" AND THEN ACTUALLY COMMIT TO THAT THOUGHT? Imagine this book in the universe where she decided to emulate the THE TRIO GOES ON AN EXTENDED CAMPING TRIP aspect of Deathly Hallows instead. Stop and think about Tris, Four, Christina, Uriah, Peter, and Cara hiking through the post-apocalyptic Chicago metro area and trying to piece together what happened, finding the Fringe first, and THEN discovering the compound. THINK. ABOUT. THAT.
-Actually, think about the compound not existing at all, because fuck EVERYTHING ABOUT THAT. Fuck all of those new characters and the amount of time that was spent on them at the expense of Tris' friendship with Christina or Peter's continued ambiguous development. WHERE THE FUCK WAS CHRISTINA IN ALL OF THIS? I HAD NO PROBLEM WITH HOW MUCH CARA THERE WAS BUT THERE WAS SO MUCH MORE CARA THAN CHRISTINA! AND THEN THIS HAPPENED:
"You don't know what she would hate; you didn't know her, you--"
"I know enough!" she snaps.
Legit fuck everyone in the world for this exchange. Fuck EVERYONE IN THE WORLD. YEAH. EVEN YOU. EVEN THE PERSON WHO BAGGED YOUR GROCERIES LAST WEEK. FUCK EVERYONE. I can buy Four lashing out like that I GUESS but LOLOLOLOL AT CHRISTINA ALLOWING IT AND BORDERLINE ENDORSING IT. FUCK THAT AND FUCK THE WAY HIS GRIEF IS ALLOWED TO ECLIPSE HERS. FUCK VERONICA ROTH FOR IGNORING THEIR FRIENDSHIP FOR THE ENTIRE BOOK AND THEN UNDERCUTTING IT LIKE THIS. FUCK EVERYTHING.
-Seriously though, SO MANY NEW CHARACTERS WITH UNKNOWN MOTIVATIONS AND AGENDAS. God fucking damn it. You dreamed too big, Veronica Roth, and your book is incredibly shitty because of it. Here is a thing I said about the first two books!
Roth did a CRAZY good job of establishing personal conflicts AND larger political ones and tying them together and balancing them and giving all of them thoughtfully-weighted stakes and making the repercussions of everything feel local
We go from the upheaval of the Factionless takeover - where Jeanine's corrupt regime (which replaced Marcus's corrupt regime) is about to be replaced by a potentially equally corrupt one headed by Tori but is instead replaced by a definitely equally corrupt one headed by Evelyn, and then there's the trip to the compound, where EVERYONE IS A FUCKING DICK, and also everyone is a genetics bigot, and they have SINISTER SECRETS and CAN'T BE TRUSTED because THEY ARE CORRUPT, but they're representative of a society that is corrupt overall, but there's this rebel faction among them that wants to take them down, BUT THE REBELS ARE ALSO CORRUPT AND CANNOT BE TRUSTED, and it is Hour Three of The Dark Knight levels of FUCKING EXHAUSTING, and Roth lets it get SO BIG and SO COMPLICATED and then doesn't honor that? Liiiiiiiiiiiiike after five billion pages of QUESTION EVERYTHING, HOW WILL WE EVER FIND THE TRUTH OR KNOW WHO TO TRUST, they just make a couple of intuitive leaps and selectively decide what pieces of which group's story is true, and THAT'S THE PLAN AND IT'S NEVER PROVEN WRONG? BECAUSE TRIS IS JUST NEVER WRONG? And after you spent two books getting invested in the central conflicts of Tris' city, ALL THAT SHIT JUST PLAYS OUT IN THE BACKGROUND FOR THIS ENTIRE BOOK?
AND THEN THE GOVERNMENT IS JUST LIKE "YEAH OKAY WE'LL STOP BEING DICKS ABOUT GENETICALLY DAMAGED PEOPLE IN CHICAGO NO PROBLEM" AND EVELYN AND MARCUS AGREEING TO A TRUCE IS SOMEHOW ENOUGH TO USHER IN PERFECT HARMONY IN A SOCIETY THAT IS FUCKED TO THE CORE AND PRONE TO POWER SHUFFLES. COOL. GREAT. Also the book kept going on and on about the sheer vastness of the world as a whole without ever ONCE addressing what the fuck other countries did when the US was like WE'RE GONNA START RUNNING A BUNCH OF GENETIC EXPERIMENTS, WHAT COULD GO WRONG? / OH GOD, THE PEOPLE WHOSE DNA WE TAMPERED WITH ARE KILLING US ALL / EVERYONE LOOK AT THE FUCKED UP NEW SOCIETY WE BUILT FROM THE RUINS! Really? The rest of the world just stood for that shit and was like YEAH OKAY CARRY ON! [Yeah, okay, probably.]
I'm not even clear on what happened at the end, although to be fair, I was skimming HARD. Tris died and was considered a dangerous rebel by the government, and she died IN THE WEAPONS ROOM WHERE SHE WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE, right at the time of the "freak accident" where everyone in the compound lost their memories, and the government responded to the release of a chemical agent during a rebel attack on the government facility that represents the entire country's hope for the future with "oh, yeah, definitely seems like this was an accident - what's that? Nobody remembers anything but they DO remember that we should end the Chicago experiment and stop being dicks to GDs? Seems legit." AM I SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE THAT THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT IN THIS UNIVERSE IS LESS OBSESSED WITH NATIONAL SECURITY THAN THE ACTUAL UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT THAT ISN'T RECOVERING FROM A CATASTROPHIC CIVIL WAR? When the corrupt and shitty government in your dystopian nightmare future seems implausibly lenient compared to its real-world equivalent, you have a problem. Two problems, really, your shitty worldbuilding and your shitty government.
-And ALSO there was the weird Truman Show aspect of it? In this ONE RESPECT it might actually have been interesting for the book to mimic Mockingjay, but the whole aspect of people in the compound knowing who Tris was and following everything that had happened to her was raised and then dropped JUST LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IN THIS DAMN BOOK. IDK, the cameras were too weird relative to how much they helped the plot; if they were council access only it would probably have been better but the way it was like entertainment that anyone and everyone could check in on was SO WEIRD because you'd think seeing things like the Abnegation massacre would have stopped at least SOME people in their tracks.
-RE: TRIS IS JUST NEVER WRONG. Um, fuck just about everything that happened with Tris and Four in the first, like, four hundred pages of this book. SHE'S JEALOUS OF NITA? HE'S JEALOUS OF MATTHEW? FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER? [PS speaking of Matthew I thought there was some to-be-revealed point to the constant mentions of his absent supervisor but LOL NOPE!] SO MUCH ANGER AND DRAMA AND CONFLICT LIKE VROTH JUST THOUGHT "I NEED TO ALMOST BREAK THEM UP BECAUSE REASONS." I specifically said this about Tris and Four after I read the first two books:
Tris and Four are ALWAYS not telling each other shit and KNOWING that the other person isn't telling them something and eavesdropping on each other or doubting each other tactically, but it's always in this great way where no matter what happens they're both like I LIKE YOU SO MUCH AND I NEED YOU SO MUCH AND I'M BETTER WITH YOU BY MY SIDE, IT'S SUCH A BUMMER THAT WE HAVE TO BE AT ODDS RIGHT NOW, HOPEFULLY WE GET PAST IT SOON BUT IN THE MEANTIME FUCK YOU! I LOVE YOU!
AND THAT WAS SO INTERESTING AS A DYNAMIC AND A SOURCE OF CONFLICT! The way that they could be at odds politically and tactically without being at odds emotionally was fantastic! They were always lying to each other and going behind each other's backs and pissing each other off because they couldn't agree on how to handle things but it only ever affected their relationship in the sense that THEY COULDN'T BE ALL OVER EACH OTHER BECAUSE THEY WERE MAD ABOUT SOMETHING UNRELATED TO MAKING OUT, and then here we had all of these overblown fights about NOT RESPECTING HER and JEALOUSY and I DON'T KNOW IF I CAN EVER FORGIVE YOU like a) Tris hasn't also done some super questionable shit? b) Tris isn't fucking CONSTANTLY just deciding to trust people even when Four is like I VOTE NO? OKAY. WHATEVER. THIS WAS RESOLVED ADEQUATELY FOR WHAT IT WAS BUT IT ALSO SHOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED.
And re: Tris doing questionable shit, UM @ THEM WIPING THE ENTIRE COMPOUND'S MEMORIES. It's an entire working city! Zoe said they're all raised there from birth so they can train for their roles all their lives! Which means there are kids and families at the compound! What's the population there compared to the experiment population in Chicago? There's ZERO consideration of collateral damage, just the more general question of whether it's ethical to unleash the memory serum on the compound to prevent it from being used on the city.
-EXTRA LOL AT THE JEALOUSY THING. LIKE...NEITHER OF THEM HAVE EVER MET AN ATTRACTIVE PERSON BEFORE? AND THEY ARE SUDDENLY OVERWHELMED AT THE THOUGHT OF THE OTHER PERSON BREATHING THE SAME AIR AS SOMEONE ATTRACTIVE? OKAY. HAD TO GET SOME KIND OF HALF-ASSED LOVE TRIANGLE IN THERE FOR YA FRANCHISE BINGO OR WHATEVER.
-If Veronica Roth wanted to write some half-assed social commentary about the government turning its back on a huge chunk of the population and then blaming them for the social problems brought about by that malicious neglect, I'M PRETTY SURE SHE COULD HAVE JUST WRITTEN A SELF-IMPORTANT TUMBLR POST ABOUT THE ACTUAL UNITED STATES THAT WE ACTUALLY LIVE IN. Oh, if a GP person kills a GD person and claims they were provoked, they can get away with it? WHAT A GREAT THING TO JUST LUMP IN AND NOT EVEN TRY TO DEAL WITH IN A RESPONSIBLE OR THOUGHTFUL WAY DESPITE ITS OBVIOUS AND DISTASTEFUL IMITATION OF ACTUAL HORRIFYING CURRENT ISSUES.
-MIDICHLORIANS!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is a Star Wars joke. I am referring to the fact that Divergent people are just NORMAL HUMANS instead of people with superpowers who can see the Matrix for what it is, and everyone who's not Divergent has fucked-up genes. Way to take the central hook of your entire fictional universe and tediously explain the science behind it over and over again until it was as uninteresting as possible. Good job. Fine work. I fucking never want to hear another word about genetics again, oh my god, just stop, I want to get my own DNA removed I'm so sick of it.
-I'M ALSO SICK OF SERUMS. JESUS CHRIST.
ETA HERE IS SOME SCREAMING I EMAILED KENDRA ABOUT WHY THE SERUM STUFF WAS DUMB:
DEATH SERUM will never stop being the dumbest fucking thing ever because did civilization just forget about poisons/chemical weapons in general that all they have now is DEATH SERUM? BUT IT'S EVEN DUMBER THAN I THOUGHT IT WAS, because of the revelation that there is nothing actually special about Divergent people. BUT THEN WHY THE FUCK ARE DIVERGENT PEOPLE SERUM-RESISTANT? Like for the various faction serums you could argue that they were made to be used on people with damaged genes, so it's not just Divergent people but basically any normal human from the outside world who can resist it. So Tris isn't a special snowflake, she's just more like the people on the outside than the people in Chicago. Whatever. Fine. BUT THEY DRIVE HOME OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN THAT NOBODY IN THE WORLD CAN RESIST DEATH SERUM, AND THEN TRIS DOES. SO APPARENTLY SHE IS A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE? IN WHICH CASE WHY BOTHER TALKING ABOUT DNA FOR THIRTY YEARS WHILE EXPLAINING THAT SHE'S NOT SPECIAL? And then it's all moot anyway because right after she resists the death serum she gets shot and dies THE END!!!!!!!!
NOTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK HOLDS UP UNDER SCRUTINY! IT'S SO BAD! EVERYTHING ABOUT IT IS TERRIBLE!
-Expecting anyone to give a fuck about the death of a secondary character that you ignored for most of the book after you KILLED OFF YOUR PROTAGONIST/POV CHARACTER is pretty dumb. RIP URIAH. VERONICA ROTH DID YOU WRONG.
-I SPENT A LOT OF TIME BEING ANNOYED ABOUT THE UPDATE TO MAMA PRIOR'S BACKSTORY? It mostly turned out okay, through the journal entries, but LBR I still much prefer my Deathly Hallows style version of this book where while they're hiking through the wasteland formerly known as Cook County, and Tris has an actual written journal of her mother's that she found hidden in her old house, and she finds out all about her mother growing up in Dauntless and choosing Abnegation instead and how she felt about her life. LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IN THIS BOOK, VE-RO WENT HUGE WITH NATALIE'S BACKSTORY AND THEN DIDN'T COULDN'T SCALE HER DEVELOPMENT OF THE STORY TO MATCH. I did LOVE the parts where Tris mused about whether her time in the Fringe influenced her decision to choose Abnegation and her dedication to helping the Factionless, though.
-There were a handful of instances of Tris just...weirdly not understanding things? Like when Zoe shows her the photo of her mom at the compound and David tells her it's from when her mother came back to the compound to visit and then like TEN CHAPTERS LATER it's some huge revelation that her mom was from the compound? WHAT? Ditto when she sits in on the council meeting and they're like "sooooooo, reset everyone's memories?" and she's like "OH MY GOD I NEVER IMAGINED THEY WOULD DO THIS" even though it's exactly the thing Matthew told her they would do? WHAT? WHO? WHAT? I FEEL LIKE I'M TAKING CRAZY PILLS.
-Also just in general this book was a thematic MESS interspersed with all kinds of really forced PEARLS OF WISDOM and things that were meant to sound great as standalone quotes that DON'T FIT INTO ANY KIND OF LEGIT CONTEXT? Like on the plane when Tris is all WHEN YOU'VE SEEN THE THINGS I HAVE, THE ONLY FRONTIER LEFT TO EXPLORE IS UP. Okay. You've left downtown Chicago for the first time in your life and gotten as far as O'Hare and found out that the outside world is bigger than you EVER, EVER, EVER could have imagined, and that the parts of it you were aware of represent a NEGLIGIBLE PORTION OF EVERYTHING THERE IS, but the only frontier left to explore is the sky. Okay. Definitely.
OTHER DUMB THINGS THAT SEEM TO EXIST SOLELY SO THEY CAN BE SOLEMNLY POSTED TO TUMBLR WHEN TEENS ARE FEELING DEEP:
"Sometimes I feel like there is so much to be afraid of, and sometimes I feel like there is nothing left to fear." I know that Nita has NO IDEA what she's talking about but also one of the really interesting aspects of this entire fucking series is the way that even in this fucked up nightmare world, the things people are most afraid of are often things that are irrational or mundane? FOUR IS LIKE THE GREATEST DAUNTLESS BADASS EVER TO LIVE AND HE'S AFRAID OF HEIGHTS AND ENCLOSED SPACES. TRIS IS A SUPERHERO [no she's not! DNA!!!!!!!!!!!!!] AND SHE'S AFRAID OF BANGING. [That is another thing that I loved in the other books that felt off in this one!] But they're also afraid of super big and messy and fucked up things, too! That's the point!
How have I never realized before that for all the strong, kind parts of Tobias, there are also hurting, broken parts?
Actually, file this under TRIS INEXPLICABLY ACTING LIKE THINGS SHE KNEW ABOUT ARE BRAND NEW INFORMATION.
To me, when someone wrongs you, you both share the burden of that wrongdoing - the pain of it weighs on both of you. Forgiveness, then, means choosing to bear the full weight all by yourself.
That goes on for a bit, and Tris says she only ever wanted Caleb to take the burden of his betrayal off of her, and she's not sure if she's ready to shoulder it all by forgiving him. Okay. Cool. Very deep-sounding philosophy about forgiveness. ONLY IT IN NO WAY MESHES WITH WHAT WE KNOW OF HOW ANYONE ELSE IN THIS SERIES HAS DEALT WITH FORGIVENESS AND GUILT. SEE: THAT TIME TRIS KILLED WILL. SEE ALSO: TOBIAS FEELING RESPONSIBLE FOR URIAH GETTING BLOWN UP.
-Also on the book being a thematic mess, Roth SERIOUSLY blew the opportunity to use the dual POV to set up a legitimately interesting and powerful Tobias arc. She clearly had the right idea about it, and she would very occasionally hit just the right note on connecting his father's abuse to how readily he believed he was damaged because he wasn't Divergent, but she DID NOT PULL IT OFF AT ALL. NOT EVEN A LITTLE. There were like two moments that landed perfectly and then she went right back to everything being a giant complicated mess.
-FUCK URIAH GETTING BLOWN UP AND NEVER COMING OUT OF HIS COMA. FUCK IT. FUCK IT SO MUCH.
-FUCK THE WEIRD DECISION TO DO NOTHING WITH PETER FOR THE ENTIRE BOOK AND THEN GET SUPER HEAVY ON HIM AT THE END.
IN CONCLUSION: THIS BOOK WAS GARBAGE. I wasn't into it at all in the very beginning [slash actually I was confused as fuck in the beginning and had to go re-read the end of Insurgent and also pull up the Divergent wiki for reference], and then I got into it when Tobias was going all double agent on Evelyn and making plans to get Tris out, and then there were like FOUR HUNDRED PAGES where nothing happened other than exposition and exploring and a whole bunch of overly confusing TRUST NO ONE bullshit and I was seriously thinking about just skipping to the end or never finishing at all but also I couldn't let the book win so I just screamed "THIS IS SO DUMB" a lot, and then they actually started doing stuff and it was almost interesting again [although I couldn't help but think that taking out the compound and re-entering the city would have been MUCH MORE SATISFYING coming off my imagined Deathly Hallows ripoff version of the book], and then LOL TRIS DIED LOL SO MUCH LOL SO HARD HAHAHAHAHAHAHA OH MY GOD. TRIS DIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TOBIAS GOT AN APARTMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE END!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ETA: I just remembered that there was a second thing in this book that I liked: When Four writes her a note and addresses it to VI and signs it IV. THAT WAS AMAZING. SO ROUGHLY A QUARTER OF A PAGE IN THIS 544-PAGE MONSTROSITY WAS ON THE LEVEL OF THE FIRST BOOK.
This entry was originally posted at http://dudski.dreamwidth.org/1462936.ht