It hit me today that both Allegiant and Captivated by You (which we’ll be starting after Sweet Valley High is done) both alternate points of view between the two love interests. We didn’t even plan for this!
Allegiant Chapter 1: Tris
When we’d last left off, a woman named Edith Prior (who Tris helpfully points out shares her last name) revealed that she was about to forget who she was in order to become part of the experiment that led to the whole Divergent series. I would explain this experiment to you, but I really don’t fucking get the point of it. Neither does Matthew really, because it is the most ill-conceived experiment ever, but here’s Matt’s take on it. [Matthew says: You should really read it if you want any hope of understanding what’s going on in this book, but TL;DR, everything is a science experiment, but a shitty one where instead of having a control group, they gave all the subjects guns.]
Christina and Tris try to figure out how Edith is related to Tris, and it manages to take what is meant to be this massively interesting reveal, a reveal that the rest of the story is meant to hinge on, and make it as boring as anything else we’ve read thus far:
“Is she a grandmother or an aunt or something?”
“I told you, no,” I say, turning when I reach the wall. “Prior is—was—my father’s name, so it would have to be on his side of the family. But Edith is an Abnegation name, and my father’s relatives must have been Erudite, so . . .”
“So she must be older,” Cara says, leaning her head against the wall. From this angle she looks just like her brother, Will, my friend, the one I shot.
If I’m this bored and the book has only just started, I can only imagine what I’m in for. [Matthew says: Welcome to my life when we started the first book.] Like Veronica Roth doesn’t even think we can remember Will or that Tris shot him because she knows we probably fell asleep while reading that scene and all the minor characters blur together. Never mind that even if you managed to only stay awake for a small fraction of the first two books you would have inevitably encountered Tris angsting over this.
Luckily, there is a much needed reminder about what the fuck is actually going on with the plot:
My ancestor, and this is the inheritance she passed to me: freedom from the factions, and the knowledge that my Divergent identity is more important than I could have known. My existence is a signal that we need to leave this city and offer our help to whoever is outside it.
I still do not get why people had to form factions and start breeding until Divergent people appeared…I mean, haven’t we established that pretty much everyone is Divergent? I still don’t even understand what sets Tris apart from anyone else, and yet she’s the only one who can save the mysterious people outside the city…somehow? This whole plot just sounds like someone wrote an outline for a story and never really bothered to fill in the plot. Teenager finds out she’s super special because of X and this means she has to do the super important Y and save the day while falling in love with Z.
Tris let’s us know that she and her pals have been locked up by Evelyn for the past few days and Fourbias still hasn’t come by to see them. In the chaos that happened completely off-screen, though, Fourbias told Tris to trust him and do as she was told.
Allegiant Chapter 2: Fourbias
Fourbias immediately shows up to see Tris and co, and his narration reads almost exactly like Tris’. They both think in stupid metaphors, cliches, nonsensical phrases, and the most straight-forward and bland narration imaginable. They’re truly made for each other. Well, that or Veronica Roth can’t figure out how to distinguish two characters. [Matthew says: I partly disagree. I found that Four’s narration read pretty differently from Tris’s. But it’s because his prose is EXTRA full of overwrought, flowery, metaphorical language, so I agree about the “it’s not good” part.]
There is a wavering expression in her eyes, like she is a heap of leaves about to be scattered by the wind. [Matthew says: Case in point.] “What’s happening? What took you so long?”
She sounds desperate, pleading. For all the horrible memories this place carries for me, it carries more for her, the walk to her execution, her brother’s betrayal, the fear serum. I have to get her out.
Cara looks up with interest. I feel uncomfortable, like I have shifted in my skin and it doesn’t quite fit anymore. I hate having an audience.
I think that about sums it up. Heaps of leaves = wavering expressions. Skin never fits our characters. Events have to be reiterated to us every 30 seconds.
[Matthew says: I do, however, want to take a quick moment to say that the book actually managed to change my mind on something I thought was stupid. Tobias, of course, isn’t in trouble because his mom rules the world now (ugh, MOM), and there’s an interesting moment where he reflects on how people treat him:
Tobias Eaton was a shameful name, and now it is a powerful one.
I mean, the prose isn’t interesting, but I’ve come around on the Four/Tobias/Fourbias silliness, and I actually kind of like how the evolution of this person’s name has been used as a tool for developing his character. It’s still not well-written, and he’s still an insanely boring character who errs towards the bad kind of unlikeable, but I’m actually gonna say that I kind of like how we built up our understanding of him as we got closer and closer to his real name. Okay, praise over. You can stop skimming now!]
Fourbias also sums up what’s happening with the rest of the plot:
I slide my hands into my pockets. “Evelyn—and a lot of people, actually—think we shouldn’t leave the city just to help a bunch of people who shoved us in here so they could use us later. They want to try to heal the city and solve our own problems instead of leaving to solve other people’s. I’m paraphrasing, of course,” I say. “I suspect that opinion is very convenient for my mother, because as long as we’re all contained, she’s in charge. The second we leave, she loses her hold.”
That is a fair point from Fourbias, but on the other hand Evelyn has a point here too. I wouldn’t want to help the people who started these idiotic factions in the first place. Like if Veronica Roth was outside the fence right now, and I was supposed to mysteriously help her, I’d be like, “Fuck no, I’m not leaving my bed to help the person that thought this series was a good idea. BASED ON MY VERY LOOSE UNDERSTANDING OF DIVERGENCE, I’M TOO DIVERGENT FOR THIS SHIT.” [Matthew says: Right?! I have no idea what I want to have happen, because both options sound super unappealing! Which I guess is one way to create moral ambiguity, but “confusion resulting in indifference” isn’t really the most well-regarded way to do so.]
Fourbias let’s us know that he is here under the guise of breaking up with Tris, and then he lets her know that even though it seemed like things were starting to get going in the series, actually there are just going to be more fucking truth serums. Can we please, oh please, stop with the serums? For the love of Christ there has to be another way.
I’m not sure I want to offer myself to them to solve humanity’s problems, whatever that means. [Matthew says: Incidentally, “whatever that means” is the shortest summary of this book’s plot yet.]
But I do want to leave, in the desperate way that an animal wants to escape a trap. Wild and rabid. Ready to gnaw through bone.
That metaphor would actually be completely fine if it wasn’t entirely undermined by the preceding sentence. “I don’t really want to help anyone outside the fence, and I don’t seem to care about this at all, except actually I want to leave MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THE WORLD.” You can’t be desperate to leave while being completely indifferent to finding out what’s outside the fence and all the things that go along with that. [Matthew says: Unless you’re reading this book, in which case “desperate to leave” means “desperate to put this book down”.] You can’t be expressing a complete lack of urgency and then convince me in one sentence that, no, actually you are ready to gnaw through the bone, or whatever the equivalent here is meant to be.
Fourbias reveals that he came to warn Tris that she needs to think of a lie to exonerate her and her friends so they’re not tried as traitors for showing everyone the Edith Prior video. Why even bother with this truth serum shit if Divergent people can lie under it so easily? Let’s just do something different with the storylines already, please.
Fourbias angsts about what a good liar Tris is and how she’s lied to him soooo many times (and then he lists two times that she’s lied). But then they make out so it’s obviously fine. Christina is appropriately grossed out by the happy/unhappy couple.