For the love of Tris Prior

By Evangeline Jennings

In the midst of our New Year celebrations, I confessed that although I’d received a whole bunch of brand new books for Xmas, there was one I had to read first – a birthday present that had sat unread by the side of my bed for several months.

It was Allegiant, the long-awaited third and final volume in the Divergent series, that I had somehow felt unable even to open. Why? Because I was worried it might ruin the series for me.

My friends and I discussed the book and several confessed they hadn’t read it either while others hinted at spoilers and I screamed at them to SHUTUP! SHUTUP! SHUTUP! SHUTUP! SHUTCETERA.

In the end I promised to read it and report back. So here we go. Laurie, Tee, this is mostly for you. Oh, and yeah. SPOILERS!!!!1111

I have a real problem with the massively popular YA dystopias – Pretties, Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent – their worlds are never real. They don’t convince. At best they’re allegorical and require a vast suspension of disbelief. And sometimes when you think about it, they’re just plain crap – twelve districts, my ass. However, the story-telling and characters earn my forbearance.

With Divergent, of course, it’s all about Tris Prior. In a novel I may soon be hawking around literary agents, my own first person present tense heroine of sorts says something like this while reading the first book on her school’s summer reading list:

The chocolate melts in my mouth and I fall further and deeper in love with Tris Prior, Veronica Roth’s unlikely pint-sized warrior hero.

I wish I could see myself in Tris, but I can’t. Physically, we’re alike – except she’s blonde and white. Like her, I learned to fight and took my share of beatings but at heart, I’m no hero. I never will be.

Some of that’s me talking – and yeah, I know I’ll prolly have to edit it out at some point – but I love Tris Prior and I know I’m not alone.

So as soon as I reached the point where Allegiant split its POV to add Tris’ boyfriend Four as an alternate narrator, I knew Tris was going to die. I haven’t read any reviews but I assume a lot of fans were very unhappy about this. I don’t think I am.

I think I’m impressed with Veronica Roth’s courage.

In Allegiant, Roth goes all out to justify the unfeasible dystopic world she had created and to explore – or at least discuss – Free Will and Determinism in a world created by and obsessed with a Mengele-like approach to the human condition.

She also stays true to what I have assumed is her Christian message in allowing Tris finally to complete her act of sacrifice. She tried, if you recall, in Insurgent but this time it’s time different. It’s not out of desperation and she doesn’t fight it (“I’m not done yet!), but she does it on her own terms out of love, strength, and necessity, for the love of the brother who had sinned most grievously against her. And she seems ready to let go – “Am I done yet?” I like to think it’s no coincidence that Tris’ best friend is called Christina – come on, it’s barely even an anagram – or that she’s the survivor who will help Four pick up the pieces.

I must confess I kept looking for ways that Tris could stay alive. Hoping Roth had been cunning enough to write a killer twist and deliver a happy ending. But I knew she wouldn’t.

I should also confess I cried for Tris. Several times.

So. Yeah. I wasn’t disappointed. Allegiant wraps up the story with integrity.

On the downside? I found Four’s voice indistinguishable from Tris’ and – tbvfh – I simply don’t like Four all that much. I guess I’m just the wrong kind of girl.

Tris Prior died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.


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