I had heard rumblings about the ending of the third book being unsatisfying long before I decided to read the trilogy. And so, I gotta say, I am conflicted on how I feel about the ending of it. So, spoilers abound after this paragraph – be warned if you ever plan to read the books. (Although if you just plan to watch the movies, I have a feeling that the third movie will stray pretty far from this, so you will probably still be safe.)
The most noticeable thing about the third book that separates it from the previous two is that the book alternates between the viewpoints of Tris and Tobias/Four, when the first two were solely from Tris’ viewpoint. I feel like this was only necessary because Tris dies near the end when saving the world, and so in order to continue the narrative, there needs to be someone to take over and explain what happens after her death. Otherwise, it’s not that great of a literary device. I don’t learn much about Tobias from reading his first person viewpoint. The chapters are actually indistinguishable, and I frequently had to check back to see which person I was reading about. The whole issue would have been better handled using a third person omniscient narrative throughout the whole trilogy.
However, I am torn on how I feel about the death of Tris in general. First, it seems unfair to the reader to take this journey with a character, to have them die, especially when we have been with her first person viewpoint for most of the trilogy, and then just switch to the other viewpoint that was inserted in a kind of sloppy way. I love having a tough protagonist that happens to be female, but I just don’t know how I feel about her sacrificing herself at the end. I think it would have been more effecting for Caleb to jump in at the last minute and sacrifice himself. But then, it also shows that Tris is a strong person, capable of loving someone that betrayed her, of overcoming so many obstacles, and yet choosing the scary path. But then, her death is sort of an “oops”, as she is shot on her way to wipe the memories of everyone, including her attacker. Wouldn’t just a shot that caused her to black out and then awaken later be just as dramatic? Especially if Caleb had come in and stopped her from being killed.
Needless to say, I have mixed feelings on the whole thing.
There are a lot of ideas and world building going on in this installment, but it is just a lot of info dumping. We are told about so many things but very little of it is actually explored in any meaningful way. Both Tobias and Tris each take a separate trip to The Fringe (which is definitely never explained and reminded me of some Afghanistan desert by the descriptions), but I’m not sure what the purpose behind it was, other than to show that this new America is very fractured. Speaking of America, why does no one care about the rest of the world? They talk about how tiny Chicago is on the map compared to the entire Earth, but never mention what is going on in parts other than the United States. We don’t even know what kind of government oversees the Bureau. And if the Bureau oversees several experiments, why is the headquarters right outside Chicago? So many questions.
In the end, the story had a lot of good potential, but the ending was not satisfying.
This book fulfills the trilogy requirement for the challenge.