Make America Read Again

I disagree with Laura Bush on plenty, but I cheered all the way when she said this:

The power of a book lies in its power to turn a solitary act into a shared vision. As long as we have books, we are not alone.

Not enough of my friends read, and it’s tragic. Reading is hands-down one of the best stress-relieving, knowledge-instilling, and relaxing activities out there. Yes, I’m still bitter that looking at your phone during a party is fine but reading a book isn’t.

So to the two of you who read this, my current reading list is here. I’m thinking of writing a “2016: Reading Recapped” post, but honestly, anything with 2016 in it sounds terrible.

Fiction

Non-Fiction

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare A Problem From Hell by Samantha Power
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr We Believe You by Annie Clark & Andrea Pino
Emma by Jane Austen The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer
The Help by Kathryn Stockett Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Maximum Ride by James Patterson Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene
Dune by Frank Herbert White Trash by Nancy Isenberg
2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clark Strangers in their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild
Solaris by Stanisław Lem The Depression Cure by Stephen Ilardi

Books and the Water Works

Two things first:
1) New blog layout–YAY! It was bound to happen someday, grey is boring. Plus I’m still happy Purple Wedding happened 😉
2) This isn’t really meant to be a book blog, more like Deeps rambles blog. Problem is when I have free time (which really isn’t that often), I read. Hence the book posts 😀

Anyways…

When it comes to books, I’m usually not someone to react with tears. For a while, after reading countless Amazon reviews saying “this book made me cry like a baby”, I thought I was just an unusually cruel person. If anything, I would roll my eyes and start browsing for fanfiction to cure withdrawal symptoms of a book being in the last series.  Once in a while, I go to online discussion posts and see how everyone else reacted.

At least this was the case with Mockingjay. On August 24, 2010 (notice how I typed the date from memory–yes I was that worked up over reading it the second it came out), I entered Barnes and Noble, grabbed a copy, paid for it, and ran. While attending my school orientation and waiting in lines, my face was covered by that book, effectively shutting out welcome-backs from everyone.  After finishing the book on the way home, I barely had time to process what happened before I lost custody of the book to my brother for the next few hours (the disadvantage of having a sibling who also reads). Harry Potter became my Mockingjay-withdrawal antidote…that is until school started and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was stuffed down my throat.  

But here we go…

Deeps + Books = Tears List

1.The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

It wasn’t character deaths that brought it on–rather it was the tragedy of the whole situation, with Morgaine’s actions driven by her belief in the Old Religion (despite her good intentions) causing much of the destruction that occurs. 
2. If There Be Thorns by V.C. Andrews

I always have a soft spot for characters with rough childhoods, and this was the case here. Bart was–as some fans eloquently put it–a “spoiled brat”, but his sense of not belonging and feeling alone was what got to me. Plus it explained many of his motivations in the sequel, Seeds of Yesterday
3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Yes, Heathcliff was awful, but his tormented soul and the fact that he was the only character who made the book interesting ultimately won me over. And, as Tyrion Lannister says, I also “have a soft spot for cripples, bastards, and broken things.” Probably one of the reasons I’ve sworn never to watch a film adaptation of the novel—I doubt any of them can do justice to this character.

4. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

I was doing my homework for this during sophomore year, and the execution scene hit me out of no where. Seeing this character moving from being an alcoholic to a savior was one of the few redemption arcs I actually found believable.

5. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Theo Decker’s childhood was no easy one, and the complexity of his character, coupled with some of his most depressing moments, had me bawling at the end.

6. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

I cried because it knocked Harry Potter off UK’s bestseller list–but that doesn’t count does it?

Guess so. No but with all due honesty, I lost my faith in humanity at that moment. Interestingly enough The Fault in Our Stars, the Harry Potter books, and Hunger Games books didn’t make it up here—I seem to be more worked up over characters digging their own graves rather than people shooting them into one. A Storm of Swords had me cursing and swearing rather than crying. I think the only book which got thrown across the room was Brisingr since it was so disappointing (well that whole series was to be fair).

But yeah, for any internet surfers who stumble on this post, did any books get to you like these did for me? Or do you prefer World of Warcraft to ebooks? Sound off in the comments!

V.C. Andrews Tribute–and Petals on the Wind Review!

Not even half of my VCA collection. Judge me all you want.

I may not be a 90s kid, but the V.C. Andrews fever didn’t escape me (V.C. = Virginia Cleo; yes it was a woman behind a man’s name).  After flipping through Tarnished Gold on the library bookshelf in ninth grade, the scandalous behavior depicted (somehow) fascinated me. I ended up borrowing Flowers in the Attic and managed to finish it within a night. While it seemed as if I was the only one in my school reading them (incest and family drama did not appeal to my friends–though interestingly enough many of them are Game of Thrones fans right now).   One Amazon review described the books as “a bag of potato chips” and I have to agree.  The books weren’t the best writing I’ve read—not to mention the dialogue had me cringing sometimes.  Yet, the family dynamics and the emotions conveyed were so compelling that I couldn’t help but binge-read them all and recap them on my old blog.  As of today, I’ve read the following V.C. Andrews books:

Dollanganger Saga:

  1. Flowers in the Attic
  2. Petals on the Wind
  3. If There Be Thorns
  4. Seeds of Yesterday
  5. Garden of Shadows
Stand Alone:
  1. My Sweet Audrina
Casteel Saga:
  1. Heaven
  2. Dark Angel <–hands down my favorite VCA novel
  3. Fallen Hearts
  4. Gates of Paradise
  5. Web of Dreams
Cutler Saga:
  1. Dawn 
  2. Secrets of the Morning
  3. Twilight’s Child
  4. Midnight Whispers
  5. Darkest Hour
Landry Saga:
  1. Ruby
  2. Pearl in the Mist
  3. All that Glitters
  4. Hidden Jewel
  5. Tarnished Gold
Logan Saga:
  1. Melody
Notice how all of these (for the most part) are in publication order–and how a few of them are published after V.C. Andrews died. When V.C. Andrews died in 1989, the Andrews estate employed Andrew Neiderman to write stories under Andrews’s name and continue her “storytelling genius”. Flowers in the Attic, Petals on the Wind, If There be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, My Sweet Audrina, Heaven, and Dark Angel are all Virginia’s works. According to several sources, Garden of Shadows, a prequel to the Dollanganger Saga, was incomplete at the time of Andrew’s death and was completed by Neiderman prior to publication. 
And initially–at least in my opinion–Neiderman managed to preserve some of Andrews more brilliant storytelling techniques. While fans might not agree with me on this, I quite enjoyed Garden of Shadows and felt it was necessary in the Dollanganger Saga; I’ll never be able to pinpoint where Neiderman picked up the novel after Andrews died. Twists in family trees and betrayals formed the backbone of the Cutler series. While the Landry series marginalized character development and chose to rely on archetypes, the research Neiderman dedicated toward capturing such a captivating setting made it one of my favorite series. However, after reading Melody, I realized I had read this story before; story lines were repeating themselves, only this time with one-dimensional characters who were not particularly likable.  I decided to fast-forward a bit and tried reading The Heavenstone Secrets (2009)–only to stop midway; the whole innocent vs sinister sister plot–I had read that already in Ruby. The main character getting pregnant after rape? Web of Dreams, Darkest Hour, and Tarnished Gold. The villain dying after getting pushed down the stairs? My Sweet Audrina. None of the newer books presented new ideas–or titles for the matter:
Oh wait…

Awks.

At some point, the originality of the ghostwriter novels had died with Andrews. One possibility could be V.C.A. only written so many outlines; once those were out, the ghostwriter went off original ideas while trying to include V.C.A. elements. Also supporting this is an interview with Neiderman that indicated that the Cutler series were mostly from Andrews’ notes. To add insult to the injury, close to the release of Lifetime’s Flowers in the Attic adaptation, Neiderman announced the release of a two-parter companion novel to the Dollanganger Saga titled Christopher’s Diary; the novels narrate the events of Flowers in the Attic through Christopher Dollanganger’s point of view
I could delve into literature-based arguments and how another point-of-view should only be used if there are additional details necessary for the storyline, but that’s beside the point. Why is it acceptable for authors to start profiting by writing fan fiction off another author’s work? Why does publishing have to be so desperate to sell instead of write? I really don’t think this book is necessary, and to a certain degree, I feel its offensive to V.C.A’s original work. Thank goodness George R.R. Martin has forbidden a ghostwriter from picking up A Song of Ice and Fire in the event of his death. But anyways…

The Movies!

Yeah it was only a matter of time I could go without discussing these. I was actually glad Lifetime decided to follow through with this project; after seeing both movies trend on Twitter, I realized how huge and long-lived the V.C. Andrews fandom was.  Given the 1987 disaster, I actually enjoyed the Lifetime adaptation and its faithfulness to the book. That being said, my reservations about this movie were depicted in my brother’s take: besides hiding in his blanket during the incestuous scenes, his reaction read “what’s the big deal?”  Most of the horror and character development wasn’t translated on-screen.  Major characters, such as the twins, were virtually non-existent.  I was hoping some of these issues would be remedied in the sequel film Petals on the Wind.

Well, turns out hope is a b!tch.

On the positive side, the performances were stronger than ever. Despite a cheesy, unrealistic script (even by V.C. Andrews standards), Rose McIver (Cathy) was able to flesh out a multifaceted character. The star of the movie, however, was hands down Bailey Buntain (Carrie) who managed to depict a lost girl’s suicidal path with more than just tears. I had mixed feelings about Heather Graham’s (Corrine) child-like approach to her character in the first film; her descent into madness, however, was so powerfully done—even if it only took five minutes.

However, ultimately, flaws from the first film–and new ones to boot–brought this film down.  There simply wasn’t enough time to summarize a book that covers approximately fifteen years of twisted family history.  This reflected in the choppy direction, with characters and story lines going nowhere until the last fifteen minutes. While the omission of characters such as Paul Sheffield was understandable, given the time constraint, certain additional characters such as Sarah (Christopher’s girlfriend, not mentioned in the book to my recollection) were unnecessary and just wasted screen time.  Corrine’s point-of-view wasn’t needed either; yes, I get that Heather Graham is an amazing actress, but it just detracted from the film as a whole. The Christmas ball scene at the end was so anti-climatic in comparison with the book; it was years of betrayal and revenge coming to a confrontation–and yet it felt so diminished in the film.  Part of this has to do with Cathy’s character being silenced, with her fierceness and passion barely depicted. While the performances were great, the script and direction took away from what could’ve been a redeeming ending to 90 minutes of boredom.

But as they say, between movie and book, pick book (unless it’s Lord of the Rings–then pick either). Oh and as a #TBT (whatever that stands for), here’s a graphic from one of my old Flowers in the Attic blog posts!

Cringing at the editing, but more or less the book in a picture.

It’s been a while…

Wow

It’s been a while…like a few…..months D:

Luckily I have a summer to finish Fifty Shades. That’s not to say I haven’t been reading–I’ve actually been spoiled by great reads lately.

But here’s a snapshot of my latest hobby!

Yup–I’ve been overworking my camera! The result of taking graduation photos for everyone…

But anyways, book catchup!

Books

Legend by Marie Lu

Final thoughts: I have a stigma against dystopian novels ever since they seem to be on every bookshelf after The Hunger Games was published.  Needless to say, my standards for this book were quite high. I was quite taken by the setting Lu created and how class differences and biological warfare were both addressed.  Both the main characters (June and Day) were compelling and their viewpoints distinct.  This series definitely has potential–though the forced romance nearly ruined it for me (two characters who barely know each other make out within a week of seeing each other—really?). But overall the series dodges many dystopian cliches, so who knows maybe the sequels might change my mind!

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Final thoughts: I highly recommend this book to anyone who can read or listen to an audiobook. This book explores vulnerability and how overcoming fear of it can yield other benefits. This book is one of the few I’ve stumbled upon that addresses the modern celebrity complex and identifies the flaws in today’s thinking. Overall, it’s a must-read for anyone.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Final thoughts: Renaming this book Catcher in the Rye: Modern Edition wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate, but Theo’s compelling narration and descriptions of basic human sentiment, ranging from void to absolute loneliness, hold the book together.  This book nailed the stages of grieving so well, while bringing in some Darwinian elements to boot. Highly recommended.

A Sword of Storms by George R.R. Martin

Final thoughts: Valar morghulis. But hands down the best book in the series–worth the 1000 pages and the squinting due to the smaller-than-usual font.

Currently reading:
Fifty Shades of Grey
Guns, Germs, and Steel
A Feast for Crows

Need to start:
Outlander (I’ve heard GREAT things about this book–I hope they’re true!)

TV Shows

Sherlock Season 3, Episodes 2 &3 :


Final thoughts: 
Yays:
This season did an excellent job humanizing Sherlock as a character, rather than dismissing him as an intelligent yet arrogant prick. 
Mehs:
I love Moriarty, but when is the man going to stay dead?
The pacing of the episodes seemed slower than usual. One aspect I love about Sherlock is the thrill of the ride; I understood why that wasn’t possible in the second episode (the setting didn’t allow it), but the third episode could’ve changed that

Once Upon a Time Season 3B:
Recap for this coming soon!

A Winter’s Tale:Week #2–Kings, Sherlock, and Queer-baiting

Books

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin <–COMPLETE!
Final thoughts: Compared to A Game of Thrones, the pacing of the book felt different, given that the majority of characters weren’t at King’s Landing anymore. But different isn’t necessarily bad, and in this case it certainly wasn’t.  The second installment in A Song of Ice and Fire was as compelling as the first, even though it felt like one of those “transition” books, setting up the battles and conflicts for the third book. Given that when I went into the bookstore to purchase Book #3 (A Storm of Swords) only to be told that I’d have to purchase TWO books because it was that long (J.K. Rowling, I forgive you for the eleven year old back damage resulting from your books in my backpack), I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be writing about Book #3 for a while… 

Character verdicts:
  • Sansa: You clever, intelligent girl.  Keep this up and maybe you’ll be sitting on the throne yourself.
  • Arya: Love you too but..what on earth are you doing right now?
  • Jon: You’re hot, but I really don’t care what happens at the Wall. Sorry.
  • Daenerys: You were barely in this book. Me=not happy.
  • Theon: Jerkface. You have your moments where I almost feel like feeling sorry for you..but then you ruin it with your whining.
  • Catelyn: BAMF. I can forgive you for stepping all over poor Jon.
  • Tyrion: It’s impossible to hate this guy. His scenes with Cersei were the best.
  • Bran: You showed that jerkface Greyjoy right. Hopefully I’ll be seeing more of you in Book 3.
  • Davos: Couldn’t we just have Melisandre do the narration instead? She’s so much more interesting and badass. 
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins <–COMPLETE!

Final thoughts: There’s more of this book coming in another post, but I want to dish out the main thoughts here. I nearly swore off young-adult after my disastrous experience with Allegiant. However, after reading some classics for fun, I was desperate for contemporary English. This book changed my mind–it was everything a YA adult novel should be: optimistic, promising, and sassy at the same time.

Still Reading

Guns, Germs, and Steel
Fifty Shades of Grey

Going to start:
Legend by Marie Lu
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

TV Shows:

Sherlock Season 3, Episode 1

(Warning: Spoilers up ahead!)


I had been waiting for this episode for over a year…needless to say I was quite anxious. The Sherlockian fandom had high expectations for this episode, but many were satisfied–including me (the series premiere reminded me again why Mark Gatiss is my favorite Sherlock writer).

Favorite Moments:
  • John punches Sherlock’s face…twice
  • John getting rid of that mustache..thank goodness.
  • Sherlock’s epic troll in the train–I cried tears from laughter and based on posts pouring in from tumblr, I doubt I was the only one.
  • The Sherlock/Molly kiss: I don’t watch Sherlock for ships and frankly don’t really care for who ends up with who, but man…those two had some amazing chemistry. And of course..
  • Mary! Sherlock’s not big on its female characters, so having a woman in the mix who’s defined as intelligent and kind was encouraging. She grew on me pretty fast.  Amanda Abbington playing her too also helped 😉
  • Anderson: Seeing Anderson’s face of shock made the episode for me.
Ugh moments:
The queer-baiting in Sherlock sadly hasn’t disappeared…all the references to Sherlock as John’s boyfriend were as prominent as ever (Watson’s scene denying he’s gay to Mrs. Hudson for instance, the Sherlock/Moriarty imaginary kiss).

Let’s rewind a bit…

What is queer-baiting? To quote this definition, which I believe covers it quite well:

Queer-baiting is what happens when a series wants to attract a queer audience without alienating their homophobic/transphobic audience. They introduce a character that queer people can relate to. They use the details and feelings common to queer people’s lives to make it very obvious to anyone who is queer, that the character is also queer. They know that because there is very little queer representation in media, queer people are going to latch onto this character, and therefore latch onto the series. However, they never let the character actually come out. When the homophobic/transphobic part of the audience starts to realize that the character is queer, the writers add something to reassure them that no, of course the character is straight. 

Wait, when did that happen? Quite a few times actually…

  • Series 1, Episode 1:
    • JOHN: You don’t have a girlfriend, then? 
      SHERLOCK: Girlfriend? No, not really my area. 
      JOHN: Mm. JOHN: Oh, right. D’you have a boyfriend?
      JOHN: Which is fine, by the way. 
      SHERLOCK: I know it’s fine.
      JOHN: So you’ve got a boyfriend then? 
      SHERLOCK: No.
      JOHN: Right. Okay. You’re unattached. Like me. Good. 
      SHERLOCK: John, um … I think you should know that I consider myself married to my work, and while I’m flattered by your interest, I’m really not looking for any … 
      JOHN (interrupting): No. No, I’m not asking. No. 
      —- 
      ANGELO: On the house, for you and for your date. 
      SHERLOCK (to John): Do you want to eat? 
      JOHN (to Angelo): I’m not his date. 
      ANGELO (to John): I’ll get a candle for the table. It’s more romantic. 
      JOHN (indignantly, as Angelo walks away): I’m not his date!
      ——
      The repeated references to Sherlock and John as a couple in the first episode of the show immediately appeals to those who wish to see a gay couple on TV.
  • Series 2, Episode 1:
    • JOHN (quietly): Who … who the hell knows about Sherlock Holmes, but – for the record – if anyone out there still cares, I’m not actually gay. 
      IRENE: Well, I am. Look at us both.
      —–
      Note that after this, a love story between her and Sherlock begins to develop. The dismissal of a queer-character’s sexuality is also an issue.
  • Series 3, Episode 1:
    • JOHN: We’re getting married–well I’m going to ask anyways. 
      MRS. HUDSON:  So soon after Sherlock? 
      JOHN: Well yes. 
      MRS. HUDSON: What’s his name? 
      JOHN: It’s a woman. 
      MRS. HUDSON : A woman! 
      JOHN: Yes of course it’s a woman
      MRS. HUDSON: You really have moved on have you? 
      JOHN: Mrs. Hudson, how many times..Sherlock was not my boyfriend. 
      —–
      The fact that this issue is still being brought up is beyond humor–rather it’s doing the exact same thing as Series 1, Episode 1.
It’s just a joke, lighten up. The number of regular LGBTQ characters on television is 3.3%, [1] down from 2012. Pretending to have characters on television that identify as such, but in reality are not just to garner an audience from the LGBTQ community, is not cool.

Pshh..Mark Gatiss and Andrew Scott are both gay, why would the show do this? Entertainment is a business. Given that 10% of the USA and 1.5% of the UK identify as LGBTQ, the show needs to appeal to this audience in order to boost ratings.

Traitor! You complain, but then watch the show? I don’t think watching the show is necessarily supporting its problematic themes. I enjoy Sherlock for its plot, excellent acting, and thrilling mysteries; however, I am not so happy about its poor portrayal of women, persons-of-color, and its queer-baiting.  I think most if not every film/television production is problematic in terms of racism, sexism, etc (see Racebending for some excellent explanations on this). It’s important to keep these things in mind when experiencing entertainment, especially given their real-life significance.  Idealizing a show just because it’s entertaining is never a good idea.

A Winter’s Tale: Week #1!

Cartoon by A.K. Renganathan

Books:

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
Thoughts: Theon is a jerk. Tyrion is awesome-sauce. And Catelyn Stark, you are my new favorite character.

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Thoughts: I’m glad Diamond chose to focus on an evolutionary perspective before diving down into historical details. Looking forward to reading the rest.

My Story by Elizabeth Smart<–COMPLETED!
Final thoughts: After reading Jaycee Dugard’s autobiography, I was looking forward to read Elizabeth Smart’s account of her kidnapping and recovery. Despite the occasional dryness in between chapters, I wasn’t disappointed. Smart’s book emphasized how she managed to stay intact during her kidnapping and not lose herself. Compared to Dugard’s account which focused on her captivity and experience, Smart emphasized the importance of family and divine belief. While Smart chose not to focus on the legal circumstances of the case, her story was nonetheless both moving and inspiring.

Verdict: If you want an account of the Smart case and how Elizabeth was found, this book doesn’t dish on that. But a survivor’s tale? Most definitely.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth <–COMPLETED!
Final thoughts: Oh dear where do I begin. I remember walking away from Mockingjay feeling depressed, betrayed, hurt, yet satisfied, knowing the trilogy ended the best way it could. As I wrapped up the last pages of Allegiant, I double checked the title page to make sure I was reading Veronica Roth’s work.  (Read more…)

TV Shows:

Elementary Season 1 Episode 21, 22, 23, 24


SPOILER WARNING for above episodes

Thoughts: Every time I mention the series to friends, I get a blank look or a “Sherlock-traitor”  response. I love Sherlock, don’t get me wrong, but for all you Sherlockians out there, in terms of modern-day Sherlock Holmes adaptations Elementary is a close second. The season finale didn’t disappoint and neither did the series as a whole. I remember initially being peeved about the series; Watson was a woman, the series was in New York instead of London, and Lestrade was absent. It felt like the world was ending–no exaggeration intended. But since I’m all for crazy ideas, I decided to give the pilot a shot and ended up watching till the end of season one without any moments of hesitation.

Here’s why:

  1. A man and a woman can be friends: The one concept which TV-shows fail to get is that a man and a woman can have a completely platonic relationship (CW I’m looking at you). Elementary distinguishes itself that way, and while Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu have some amazing chemistry, the idea of friendship makes their banter and more intimate scenes even more touching.
  2. The female characters: Finally a show with a female character whose storyline doesn’t revolve around a love story. Joan Watson, well-educated, respected, and unwilling to put up with Sherlock’s occasional B.S. is both heroic and flawed. And she’s portrayed by Lucy Liu–need I add more? Moriarty, a foil to Watson, is charming yet unpredictable at the same time. I thought no one could top Andrew Scott, but Natalie Dormer might best that in future episodes (according to promotional videos, Moriarty will return next year!).
  3. The mysteries: One of the downsides of BBC’s Sherlock is the overplay of Moriarty. Don’t get me wrong–I love opportunities to give Andrew Scott more screen time.  But given the number of Arthur Conan Doyle works featuring Moriarty in comparison with five out of the six Sherlock episodes focusing on Moriarty-related scenarios, it was hard to believe that only one character could be responsible for the majority of London’s police crises. Moriarty is more of a subtle figure in Elementary, allowing her to make the major entrance the character deserved. 
  4. Watson: Watson was never a character who accompanied Holmes for the sake of company–he was a true partner in Holmes’s cases, making observations and taking accounts when needed (The Hound of the Baskervilles if you don’t believe me). That’s what Elementary gets right–Joan is instrumental toward solving several of the cases, even outsmarting Moriarty in the season finale.
Verdict: Season 2 here we go!

Allegiant: Why I’m facepalming

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

*SPOILERS, LOOK AWAY NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT*

Oh dear where do I begin.

I remember walking away from Mockingjay feeling depressed, betrayed, hurt, yet satisfied, knowing the trilogy ended the best way it could. As I wrapped up the last pages of Allegiant, I double checked the title page to make sure I was reading Veronica Roth’s work. Given how compelling both Divergent and Insurgent were, I knew my expectations to the final installment of the trilogy were quite high. However, Allegiant failed to meet the “worthy of a reread” mark.

Let’s start with the dual perspectives. I found myself incredibly annoyed that every couple of pages I had to flip back to check whether I was in Tobias’s head or Tris’s. There was no differentiation in tone, no indication of who was speaking. At some point I wondered why Stephenie Meyer could pull off different points of view (yes I hated Breaking Dawn but I will give Meyer this–Jacob’s voice was distinct from Bella’s), but Veronica Roth, who wrote two satisfactory novels, couldn’t.  The only purpose of the dual perspectives was to explain the ending–which didn’t help with redeeming the book overall.

In light of all the scientific plot holes involving evolution (isolating populations won’t result in reversal to a less deleterious trait i.e. divergence–the founder effect doesn’t work that way) and the baseless relationship conflict that had Tobias and Tris barking at each other for a hundred pages, I was hoping that the ending would somehow redeem the truckload of a mess I had just pulled myself through.

Before I address the conclusion that has fans sending Veronica Roth quite strongly-worded tweets, I admit it–I cheated. Like any other overly-excited fan, I scrolled through Tumblr until I hit the spoiler tag. Yes, I cursed in different languages. I face-palmed. I screamed. But in the end, I realized its potential. After all, the Divergent trilogy are all war-based stories. The idea of the narrator and main character of the series dying was both realistic and fitting, and I knew that it could be well written and suiting for the conclusion at the same time.

Then I read the book.

It was interesting how there was no Plan B suggested for the suicide mission; when trying to overpower a political system, minimizing losses is essential. So why does no one propose an alternative plan that could potentially evade death? Besides that loophole, the main problem stems from the timing of Tris’s death. When a character dies, it usually means one of two things: a) He/she died a tragic figure or b) He/she completed his/her journey and died in the process or as part of achieving a goal. Veronica Roth, when asked about Tris’s death, said that her journey was complete as she had acted in the ultimate act of selflessness.

Sorry, but…since when is going on a suicide mission and leaving everyone you love selfless? Since when is acting on recklessness and mindless self-sacrifice (a flaw repeatedly pointed out by Tobias) rather than overcoming it character development? Completion of a character arc doesn’t necessarily call for death, and in this case, the arc was both incomplete and the death unnecessary as it didn’t accomplish anything.

Sydney Carton died to relieve a life of shame. Jim Casy died for Tom to initiate his journey (and for Steinbeck to call out the political system during the Great Depression). Aslan died to save Edmund and to save Narnia. Tris died to save Caleb (who–by the way–didn’t get his redemption arc) while not completing her journey.

The last book of every series is extra-susceptible to criticism due to anticipation and the fact that all story arcs are at a close. But given the poor plotting and character development, I think it’s safe to say the Allegiant criticism is quite valid.

Verdict: For such a promising series, the final installment was a disappointment.