Rating: 4 stars
Review Contains Spoilers
Veronica Roth's trilogy, centered on youths living in a dysotopian world, ends with readers possibly wanting to throw their e-readers or books against a wall. Then again, that's not new after reading Divergent and Insurgent.
Roth's novel is based in Chicago, which is divided into factions, based off desirable personality traits. For every pro there's a con though: Dauntless (brave but reckless), Candor (truthful but not always tactful), Amity ( peaceful but passive), Erudite (intelligent but lacking compassion) and Abnegation (selfless but constricted). At the age of sixteen people are initiated and can choose the faction they want. Tris chooses Dauntless but her official test results are inconclusive, which means she's Divergent and so is Four, her mentor turned boyfriend. Being Divergent is tricky in a world where factions are so tightly enforced.
By book three we learn how the factionless and Divergents clash with the rest of the population. A video is released featuring one of Tris's ancestors. The video claims the Divergent can save the ailing population outside of Chicago. So Tris, Four and their friends set out to find answers.
Readers find out a Purity War wiped out the country's population long ago. Tris, Four and co. are not aware the United States even exists. Airplanes, tablets and other cities are completely foreign to them. At an abandoned airport turned compound they meet the a bureau responsible for controlling and aiding their factions-which also includes some pretty nasty secrets. The main characters find out the government tried to fix negative personality traits by looking at "damaged genes" and finding people with "superior genes" and building communities around these issues. Propaganda is rampant.
The novel is told from Tris and Four's point of views which sometimes is confusing. Without giving much away, readers find out Natalie Prior's complete backstory and see Four come to terms with his parents. I found it hard to believe Natalie remained connected to her mentor, who turned out to be a murdering creep. Four's development with his messed up parents worked out well, especially in terms of moving on and forgiveness.
My biggest issue with the book concerned a possible plot hole. We find out the government has been manufacturing and using different kind of serums on Chicago's community--serums that reset memories and could even kill if need be. At the end the compound's officials are exposed to the reset serum so they can be told a different view of history to start over and break away from the damaged gene mentality. However a higher level of government exists and I find it hard to believe they didn't notice and revolt against the memory reset. Was Chicago just allowed to start over separated from the rest of the country? Unrealistic but somewhat of a happy ending in my opinion.
As for the biggest reveal, we do see a main character die, obviously. It was pretty obvious who it could be after certain events and emotions are revealed. I was not happy with the ending but did not hate it. On that cryptic note, my review will end with some deep pondering: the whole book's theme focused on love, sacrifice and bravery and how people are capable of showing these emotions regardless of genes. To me that makes up for the plotholes and ending, regardless of factions and damaged genes.