From Allegiant to Divergent
There are NO spoilers in this post because I haven’t read the trilogy.
I’ll admit that while I saw Divergent and Insurgent in bookstores, I didn’t pay any attention to Veronica Roth’s trilogy until I saw the reaction to the final book in the series, Allegiant. I followed the distressed cry from Twitter to her Amazon page where I was stunned to see a sea of 1-star reviews despite it being on the bestseller list. While others have since come out in favour of the book, this random review sums up the 1-star reviews:
I finished this last night and afterwards I felt just dead inside. I absolutely hate when a series ends leaving me feeling unsatisfied and even, in this case, angry. I feel kind of betrayed by the author.
Is it wrong that I’m now going to read the series just to see what is making people this upset? And that the titles so perfectly invert in this trilogy, with fans showing great allegiance to Divergent, uprising a bit with Insurgent, and then parting ways with the author on Allegiant?
I think it’s impossible to read without expectations, especially when we’re emotionally attached to the characters. We want Harry Potter to win over Voldemort. We want Bella to end up with Edward but for Jacob to be happy too. But could we have been okay with an ending where Voldemort escapes, or even worse, triumphs? What if Bella remains human with Jacob while Edward lives in a distant vampire coven, narrowly escaping a world she realizes she doesn’t really want to be a part of for eternity?
As long as the story makes sense and the characters make choices that ring true, is it fair to put our expectations on the author and not accept the story as it’s told to us? Is it fair to lash out because it the book doesn’t fulfill our desires? There’s a difference between being annoyed by an ending and feeling betrayed by an author. Or, as this reviewer states:
I have never been more disappointed in the last book of a series than I was reading this book. Normally I reread a series at least 3-4 times. Because of this book I will never read this series again, no matter how much I loved the first two books. They are ruined. Forever.
As people are deeply ensconced in writing their own books for NaNoWriMo, it begs the question: Is the job of author predicting what people want and giving it to them, or is it showing them a story they could have never told themselves?
I know nothing about the Divergent series, though I’m excited to start it soon. Perhaps the ending simply doesn’t ring true; that the characters act… out of character. I will obviously be reading it differently than any of the people who followed it from its inception since I’m going into it to figure out what was so upsetting about the ending. And perhaps by going into it with that attitude, I won’t be able to be disappointed by the ending? Perhaps that’s the way we should read all books?