First of all before we continue please note: If you have not yet completed either of these trilogies and are intending to, then DO NOT READ. MAJOR SPOILERS. This is not an article I could write without such a thing. This is a fairly simplistic comparison incidentally, don’t expect deep and meaningful commentary on, well, anything. This is purely me enjoying myself.
So, two of my favourite YA Dystopian trilogies. Both of which had endings that divided opinion. Both of which are highly popular, being made into movies, have rabid fans and give great reading experiences. I loved both – despite not being fond of one ending and thinking the other perfect, I could not pick between them. So lets take a look.
For Book One I’m considering our protagonists. Katniss in The Hunger Games and Tris in Divergent.
They are both equally compelling – Katniss risks it all to save her sister from the horror of the games and Tris leaves behind everything she has ever known in order to try and find herself. Both find themselves in a fight for survival. Both adapt, learn, make friends, make enemies, suffer tragedy and loss and do so in a very readable manner. Both of these kept me up late…
At this point Katniss was my favourite. Perhaps because she suffered more here (I mean who DIDNT cry at the death of Rue and her reaction to it) and at the end was left with a fierce determination, and a hardened heart. By the end of book One Tris was less affected (in my reading mind) and still had a way to go before events overtook her in a way that made me truly worry for her soul.
As far as story goes you have two terrific premises executed brilliantly. There is no way I could say that Suzanne Collins or Veronica Roth have the edge there. The only edge I can give is that I would not like to be anywhere near the world of the Hunger Games but I kind of liked the idea of becoming Dauntless….
And onwards to part two, here I’m going to consider that very difficult thing – the “middle” book. Hard to get right one imagines, you have to walk the line between keeping up the standard, quality and readability of Part One, whilst making sure people want to read part 3 and growing your characters in a realistic and compelling way. Not easy. Not easy at all!
Here I definitely gave one of the books an edge – for me personally, Insurgent wins this round. Because of the “set up” and the character development.
Suzanne Collins opted for pretty much doing the same thing again – back to the Games, even with a little twist, felt way too much “been there done that” for this reader. Still the writing was superb and I was still right there – and this is the book where I picked the guy I was going to root for out of the two choices Katniss had – Yes. I went with Gale. Who did you go for?
Insurgent however, I felt, moved the story along in a much more engaging and fascinating manner. Tris evolved and you started to understand her, know what choices she was going to make and why. Her relationship with “Four” moved in a realistic way (I was still unsure whether I liked him much or not) and the division amongst the factions was superbly written and highly addictive. Then, at the end, when Ms Roth gave us a teaser of why the factions ever came into being and what “Divergent” might actually mean in real terms I was hooked. I was ready. Ready for Allegiant….and to find out what exactly was outside the fence…
And here we are. Down to the wire folks! In the divided opinion stakes here is mine…you can take it or leave it – if you think I’m insane you may well be right so I won’t hold it against you! And if you differ from me utterly and completely then thats GREAT! Both these authors have given us things to debate. To discuss. To argue and get het up over. Who can ask for more. And this is YA fiction? Astounding….Here we go.
MockingJay wins the day for me. Hands down, no prevarication, absolutely and completely. Upon reading the last few words of Mockingjay I lay down and cried. And cried. Walked round in a daze for a few hours, totally bereft. Absolutely inconsolable that there would be no more. Because…..Nope, lets talk Allegiant first.
Upon reading the last few words of Allegiant I threw it down, shrugged my shoulders, metaphorically said “meh” and carried on with my day. Only later did I even bother to consider over much why I felt that way. And this is why. For a start, the promise of the end of Insurgent was not acted upon for me. A rather generic “its in the genes” explanation just did not cut it. Tris will save the world because she has perfect genes? This reviewer said it best for me and I can’t say it better. So have a read. Then prepare for a rant from me….and a COMPLETE SPOILER FOR BOTH
Then Veronica Roth killed Tris. In a move that was probably meant to be dramatic, mind blowing and make you cry she did something that had been blatantly obvious to me from the very first moment I read the dual POV’s in Allegiant (and honestly could “Four” GET any more whiny whingey and woe is me?) I knew that we would need someone other than Tris to take us to the final denouement otherwise why make such a huge change to a method of writing that had worked so well up until now. And for me she did it in rather a blase fashion – Everything Tris had learnt and evolved into up until now seemingly having taught her nothing. She kind of gave up. Now I’m not saying that killing Tris was completely the wrong way to go…if done right it would have been a STUNNING conclusion. But for me it fell flat. She survived everything including the thing that kills everyone else, yet even with her totally awesome kick ass weapons and fighting skills she was taken down by a desk jockey in a wheelchair. I mean what? Really? Yeah ok then…
Plus “Four” didnt really grieve. Or do anything much for the whole novel apart from moan about stuff and get in the way. And previously he had been so cool. Strong. Certain most of the time…Yes sorry. No good. NO GOOD! Sigh. Ah well…..
So MockingJay. Yes. Loved it. I can see why people didnt (and indeed why people DID love Allegiant) but I LOVED it. Because from the start EVERYTHING Katniss did came from a place of wanting to protect her Sister. And yet Primrose dies anyway. My heart broke. It broke for Katniss. It broke for Primrose and the fact that she would not get to live in the brave new world Katniss had fought so hard for. It broke. Thinking about it again now it still brings a tear to my eye. And Katniss at the end. So broken, so bereft, so sad yet still standing strong. Perfect end for me. PERFECT.
So. Both novels peppered with amazing characters, in very different settings, within worlds we cannot imagine. Two strong female protagonists who you get behind, love, hate, root for, adore….Terrific writing from both authors. For me one fell at the final hurdle but…..
I would not dismiss the “Divergent” trilogy as unworthy in any way. Because we ALL read differently. I would recommend both trilogies as highly as each other – because how you feel about the endings will very much depend on how you have read the books, and how the characters have solidified in your mind. There is no “wrong”. Both Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth gave us their vision – how we interpret it? Thats up to us. Each individual reader will have an individual opinion. The above article was mine.
Happy Reading Folks!