Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Allegiant (2013 Read)

I suppose I am now at a place where I can write about this awful book.

So, this review is going to be chock full of spoilers, just thought you should know.

When I first learned that Divergent was going to be a series I was incredibly angry at the fact that I’d fallen for the YA trap again. I loathe when books carry on for decades so kids can buy more books/the book companies make more money and everyone feels so satiated. I loathe series of any kind and hate that I fell for this series hard.

So, when an ending like the ending this series has occurs I usually find myself ready to cuss at the heavens through my puddle of tears as I throw the book across the room or vow to burn the author in effigy. None of that has happened, why? Well, while a crap ton of people die and I MEAN A LOT of people die I felt close to none of them--I neither liked nor disliked them. That includes irrational, fierce Tris.

Yeah, I said it. I’ve never liked Tris. I looked at my old reviews to see if this was actually true and I noticed that I gush about Four and give accolades to Tris. From the first page of the first book her character never changes. Even in this last book, she’s still trying to prove that she’s right, she’s still trying to prove to herself that she’s stronger than everyone. I didn’t buy it. Even worse, I didn’t care...wait, I don't care. Hence, the problem with writing this review.

So, I’m reminded of one of my favorite post by Veronica Roth, Likable Schmikable in it she talks about how she doesn’t have to like a character in order to appreciate something. She said that she doesn't mind if characters aren't likable as long as they are "fascinating. Complicated. Believable" I realized at the end of Insurgent that she was holding to true to her word, she was trying to make characters that were fascinating, complicated and believable and there are aspects of these three tenets in her first two books. At the end of the series not only is she holding true to her word, but she must believe that the rest of the world feels that way too. Most importantly she thinks that she has given us enough fascination, complication and belief to make us buy the whole lot. In some ways I may be too old (ie. English major, English teacher, well past the years where YA fiction may be applicable to my life) and in some ways, I think she isn't an experienced enough writer to pull off what she needed to so I would feel vested in the story and her characters past the first book.

I joined this conversation on Goodreads so I could talk about it. The question and subsequent discussion can be found here, but here's the break down of my major points:

1] I have never been more disappointed in a writer, his/her story line or character development or lack thereof. The fact that Tris would die at the end shouldn't have been news to anyone, Roth sets us up with that from the very beginning.

2] The ending is deplorable in its execution and weak in its explanation. Her blog post only proves good writer has to defend their book. A writer who's afraid of losing the money because there's a whole hoard of people who no longer want to watch the movie series does though. 

3] I think to rewrite the ending to suit a certain audience is just as bad as manipulating a series to suit a certain audience. There is no win. I wish this book would have come out after the movie. I wish I would have read this book after the movie. Veronica Roth already took away from her story the second she started this book without giving it a thoughtful conclusion. I will not be watching the movie. I am done with Veronica Roth...And, while I hate to bash someone who wrote a book and published a book and who is more successful at being a writer than I will be (writing is bravery after all), I like what one of my friends said, "Ok Veronica, you've had your fun. Now go back to Northwestern and get that degree. You still have lots to learn about writing." 

4] Veronica has lots to learn about audience and awareness...every good creative writing class does tell you to take the criticism, I'm assuming that also means "don't blog about it." 

So, I now have three books on my "I hate your guts out" List:

1] The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
2] Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackray
3] Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Trust me, this book doesn't even deserve that company, at least those books mean something in the canon of literature and the foundation of man. I hate those books because they are written so well they make me feel for the characters, the setting, the situations. They are made to serve a purpose. Heck, she isn't in the same league as Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, or, gasp, Stephenie Meyer. And, if I throw Stephenie Meyer in there, at least those books and its author are what you see and they perform in a way true to their genre/character development/audience awareness. Edward, Jacob, Bella and the crew are fascinating, complicated and believable and act within the confines in which Meyers places them.

I dislike this book because it doesn't seem to be as thoughtful as the other two, and, yet I'm supposed to believe that it is. Divergent is one less movie I am chomping at the bit to go see...I have to like my characters, to like my story and the tasty, conflicted Four won’t be enough for me to sit through it.

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