An Open Letter to Veronica Roth

Published 11/11/13 by:

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****This post contains spoilers as to how the third book of the “Divergent” series ends. If you have not finished “Allegiant” then please refrain from reading.****

Dear Veronica,

I feel the need to start by saying thank you. Thank you for “Divergent”, and everything it gave me as a new middle school teacher. When it came out, I was in my first year of teaching sixth grade English. I bought five copies so I could teach it to a group of  boys that just were not buying into the whole reading thing despite my best efforts. These boys were capable. They were unchallenged by choice. They needed the right conversation starter. You know what did it? Fear landscapes. So thank you for writing a book about romance, bravery, choice, and fear landscapes. It was one of my favorite teaching moments I’ve ever had.

This is where my love fest for you ends. I finished “Allegiant” an hour ago, and I’m so outrageously disappointed. It’s a testament to you how upset I am, because it shows how much you’ve reeled me in. I am a guppy in the land of factions. I’m a guppy whose heart is broken and deflated. “Allegiant” did that to me. You built Tris into this absurdly brave girl. This girl who had strong beliefs, desires and loyalty. As a reader, I knew how vulnerable she could be because of the circumstances she put herself in, but when you had her die for Caleb, and a cause she barely knew anything about, I was enraged. What sliced me open even more is that while people lived peaceful lives after Tris’ sacrifice, no one was a success. If you’re going to kill your badass protagonist, then it better be for some insanely awesome greater good. Four living a boring life with his mother that he should’ve never forgiven? Awful. Christina working as an outreach coordinator for people in transition? Mediocre. Caleb working in a lab? Predictable. Everything was so mundane in the end, for a series that was so triumphant until “Allegiant” breathed its last breath. I was, and will continue to be devastated by this lackluster closing.

In the spring of 2007 I was a senior in college, and I was taking a class called “Fiction of the Modern”. We read the likes of James Joyce, Djuna Barnes, and D.H. Lawrence, and dissected their novels into smithereens. It was a fairly enjoyable class, that often skirted the line of being too cerebral. The Erudite would’ve eaten it up. The professor of the class was also my advisor, and she was a bookish British woman who rarely veered from the syllabus. One day, we were discussing the assigned novel of the week, and she bestowed upon me one of the most intriguing literary ideas I’d ever heard. She said, “the mentor always has to die in order for the hero to be actualized. That’s why you should’ve known that Dumbledore was a goner.” This was news to me because evidently I didn’t take enough “hero’s journey” courses in my career or watch enough “Star Wars”.  Anyway, my point is, that my gut told me that Christina, Tris, Four or Caleb had to die before “Allegiant” was over. My previous adoption of this mentor dying philosophy convinced me that Four, Tris’ guiding force, her Dauntless teacher, would die in order for her to be independently accomplished. I also assumed that you were foreshadowing when  you included Four as one of the narrators in this last installment of the series. I think a part of it is that I’m a sucker for the build them up to shoot them down process. I guess I just didn’t think you had it in you (as an author) to kill a 16-year-old girl.

Here’s the rub: it’s your series. It’s not mine. Tris and Four felt like family the way that very few other novel characters have to me, so I have to be reminded that this is your story that I’m a witness to. It still hurts. I wanted so much more for Tris and Four. Apparently I shouldn’t have assumed that you wanted it all as well. What did you want? For Tris to finally be Abnegation? For Four to finally have a mother? If that had been clear from the start, then maybe I would be more accepting of this ending, but this guppy feels gutted.

Disappointed, but still with gratitude,

Kaitlin

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