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article imageReview: Can Divergent, a series not for teens, be saved by the producers? Special

By Ruth Hull     Mar 29, 2014 in Entertainment
Chicago - The FIRST Divergent movie is great fun and better than the book, but will the final installment result in teen suicides, bad AP scores and a dumbed-down public? Can the sanity of Divergent viewers be saved with a new ending to the series?
The annual rate of youth suicides averages 4600 and the average annual rate of youth self-inflicted injuries is 157,000.
The teenage years can be tough. During the teen years, there are pressures to be part of the in-crowd, do well in school, look awesome, and find the right boyfriend/girlfriend. It is a time when kids are fighting off depression over broken hearts, poor grades, social cliques, family tensions and difficulties fitting into the changes in society. Additionally, there are hormonal changes, acne, inferiority complexes and shyness. Though most teens make it to adulthood, very few teens are free from thoughts about suicide. Many young people, and older people too, find solace in books, frequently identifying themselves with characters they like. Most YA (young adult) writers strive to live up to the expectations of their readers, knowing they owe their success to their fans.
Judging from the reactions of readers of the Divergent series, a great many readers felt that Veronica Roth had betrayed them. Many of these felt she set them up to love characters, just so she could break their hearts as she turned around and killed off the very characters she had gotten them to love. Reading reviews and speaking to readers, it was apparent that the majority of Roth's former fans were not happy campers when it came to her final book in the series. Many lamented that there was a time limit on returning the first and second books to the store.
Here are some examples of the reaction to Veronica Roth’s final book Allegiant in the Divergent series: 'Allegiant' ending inspires some angry fan reaction and Reader Reactions to ‘Allegiant’ Are an Online Fandom Horror Story.
Following are the top three reviews at Amazon.
2,185 of 2,326 people found the following review helpful
[ 1 star out of 5] Why Allegiant is one of the worst books I've ever read
By Penny on November 16, 2013
...
First, let's address the elephant in the room that is the topic of most discussion about this book: The ending. I want to make very clear that I am not a person who needs a happy ending in a book, nor did I even really expect one in this series. I don't read books because I expect to see "...and they lived happily ever after" on the last page. In fact if this book had ended with some flash-forward to the house and kids like certain other series did, I would have been just as annoyed. That's lame. I don't need happy. What I do need and expect, from any book, is an ending that makes sense and satisfies the story.
This ending was not that ending.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The real reason I give this book one star is because the book, as a whole, was awful. I'm sorry, but this is one of the most shoddily written books I've ever read in my entire life. And I say this as someone who absolutely adored the first two books in this series. I say this as someone who read Fifty Shades of Grey ... and Allegiant has officially taken that book's place as the worst book I've ever read. And I debated somewhat on that, but I decided that Allegiant wins because, while Fifty Shades was an affront to literature indeed, I don't actually wish I could go back in time and unread it. I wish to the heavens that I had never read Allegiant.
...
The whole BOOK was crap.
Now, I don't think all the blame for the absymal nature of this or any book falls squarely on the author. I think when a series is an established success, the editors and publisher likely don't feel the pressure to crank out a truly quality product since they know it's going to be a bestseller regardless. This book really needed three or four more rounds of rewrites before it should have ever been allowed to go to print. It reads like a rough draft. Guaranteed moneymaker or not, I can only assume the editors were drunk when they let this through.
1,506 of 1,612 people found the following review helpful
[1 star out of 5] Read if you enjoy being depressed and disappointed
By Kala TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Amazon Verified Purchase
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.
I loved Divergent. The book had its faults, but I really fell in love with the whole story, the characters, the romance between Tris and Four, the Factions, etc. I read and re-read Divergent probably 8-10 times. I bought the audio book version as well. I was SO PSYCHED about the movie! I bought Insurgent and devoured it as well. It didn't have quite the same magic for me that Divergent did, but I still loved it. So I was REALLY psyched to read Allegiant.
And maybe my hopes were too high.
...
Sorry, but this book was awful. I wanted to love it. I REALLY wanted to love it. I was willing to deal with all the weird genetically damaged stuff. I was willing to deal with the complete dismantling of Four's character. I was willing to deal with a lot, but [spoiler removed]' pointless and needless death... NOPE. This death felt like it was here for shock value only. So the author could be "edgy" and "different.
Unfortunately, all she did for me is ruin the entire series. I won't be re-reading Divergent or Insurgent anymore. I won't be re-reading Allegiant. And I definitely won't be seeing the movies that I was once so excited for. Knowing how depressingly it ends ruins it all for me
1,032 of 1,162 people found the following review helpful
[2 stars out of 5] Boring, repetitive and monotone
By MomoMonique on October 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Amazon Verified Purchase
I know everyone is harping on the ending, but that isn't even the problem in this novel. I don't expect much YA novels to be Hemingway, or Rowling even, but reading Roth's monotonous and continuously stilted, short sentences for the duration of this story made me long for some artistic flare. A bit of purple prose, even.
My main problem is that Roth, for having decided to alternate POVs to both Tris and Tobias, has created no discernible tonal differences between the two. Neither develop a distinct personality and that leads to a boring read. If each chapter title did not state whether it was in Tris or Tobias' view, then I would not have been able to tell who was the narrator, aside from situationally figuring it out. Both viewpoints really do read that similarly.
...
Finally, about that ending. I give a lot of leeway to authors. They can do whatever they want, even if it devastates me, as long as it serves a purpose. In this case, I don't see how the ending served the story for the better except for "shock-value," mainly because the end is filled with too many plot holes. Plus, by the time I even reached the end, I was already bored to apathy.
And just to be clear, my low-ish rating of this novel was not affected by the ending. I found the rest of the novel to be far more problematic.
A review at Debbie's blog notes:
The biggest controversy over Allegiant by Veronica Roth, the final book in the young adult dystopian series that started with the novel Divergent, is not the worst thing about it.
It’s not good, but not for the reasons most fans are flipping out over it.
Some fans are already writing up PETITIONS (groan!) to demand Roth rewrite the ending. Some are actually tracking her down at book signings and complaining to her face-to-face. Some are being total jerks about it, hiding behind the anonymity of the internet to say some hateful things about her, which is not cool, EVER.
But petitions and negative reviews aren't the worst part of the fan reaction. Some fans actually threatened Veronica Roth over Allegiant. These reactions are extreme but the real problem seems to be that the book was misplaced into the YA (Young Adult) section of book stores. Perhaps it would have been better suited for the geriatric section of book stores where the readers have had more years of experience with badly written books written by people lacking in any knowledge of their subject matter.
The movie version of Divergent does depart from the book in a significant way towards the end, perhaps a precedent for what can happen in the final motion picture installment. This provides some hope to angry readers. To AP instructors and biology professors, the possibility of reining in the unscientific science provides hope. To teen suicide counselors, the possibility of an altered ending also provides hope. If Tris could overtake Jeanine in a physical fight in the movie version, then certainly she has what it takes to survive the nonsensical fate Veronica Roth has in store for her. Think about it producers: social responsibility, shareholders' profits, and the possibility that viewers will see the final movie more than once and later purchase the DVD.
In questioning viewers, I was surprised to note that the majority of those present in the theater hadn’t read the books. Apparently a lot of readers stayed home while the bulk of those watching the movie had little knowledge of the plot other than the hype or what they had seen in the previews. Only about 10 to 20% of those viewing the movie had read one or more of the books and the vast majority of those at the theater who had read the third book were hoping for a changed series ending.
One of the things that Veronica Roth does well is write love stories. Readers love Tris and Tobias, especially with bits like Tobias’s line in Insurgent, “You die, I die.” The love between these two and Tris's ability to survive all her challenges in the first two books and most of the third is what makes the story so enticing to teens and other readers. This is also a large part of what makes the developments in the third book even more revolting to much of Roth's fan base.
Also offending readers is Roth's inability to write different voices for Tobias and Tris in Allegiant, making the readers double and triple-check the subtitles as readers point out that they can't tell if it's a girl or guy speaking from the content. Perhaps everyone missed the point of the split perspective. Maybe Tris and Tobias are the same person with a dissociative identity disorder and delusions of separation. As the history changes with great regularity, maybe the personal history of these two was also false and Tobias/Tris just thought he/she had two separate families. Most of the teen readers do seem to have a stronger background in science than Ms. Roth and are aware that inbreeding isn't the proper fix for genetic disaster. Of course, maybe it is the inbreeding that caused the difference between Tobias and Tris to be undecipherable in the third book.
Even domestic violence victims were not impressed by the reference to the abuse perpetrated by Marcus on his wife and child as the books didn't go anywhere that plot, other than as an unsatisfactory explanation of why Evelyn deserted her son.
So that viewers have a better reaction towards the third movie than readers did towards the third book, here are three possible alternative endings for the producers to consider:
1) Tris and Tobias, upon discovering what's behind the Chicago experiment, go find a science professor and bring him/her to teach third grade biology to the real genetic mutants who are running the Bureau of Genetic Welfare.
2) Tris and Tobias take away the psycho voyeurs' memory-wiping serums, death serums, truth serums and kill-your-neighbor serums, give them some dolls and tinker toys and place them in padded cells.
3) Allegiant is just a simulation. The real third installment is still on it's way.
Note: Here is a recommendation that has been suggested for AP Students: If you think the ending of Allegiant makes sense, skip the AP biology exam. The “1” will kill your chances of getting into most colleges.
More about Dirvergent, Allegiant, Insurgent, Veronica Roth, Bad science
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