The third novel in the Divergent trilogy, Allegiant starts where the last book, Insurgent, ended: an experiment of genetic engineering is revealed as the cause behind the narrowly-defined human factions that used to control post-apocalyptic Chicago, Amity, Abnegation, Candor, Dauntless and Erudite. Now the factionless masses have risen up to take control of Chicago in the wake of a bloody faction war, and those who used to belong to factions have begun to start a rebellion against the government leader, Evelyn, who is the mother of the protagonist Tris Prior's love interest, Tobias.
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Tris, a member of the Dauntless faction and a leader in the past battles to stop the Erudites from controlling the city, is invited to join this new mutinous group of faction members who don't want to live under Evelyn's rule. This group is called the Allegiant. Tris agrees to go on a mission for the Allegiant if they help save her brother, Caleb, who is about to be executed for turning traitor and serving the Erudite leader (and antagonist) Jeanine. Tobias and Tris, with help, manage to break Caleb out of prison and bring him safely to the Allegiant camp. Caleb, Tobias, Tris and their friends then escape the city of Chicago on a train, narrowly avoiding their pursuers, and begin their Allegiant-ordered mission to explore the world outside of Chicago. They begin to encounter other former Divergents that they knew during their training, or lost family members, who they all assumed to be dead. Slowly, the truth about the origins of the factions of Chicago emerges in more detail than was known before. The reason why the government began experimenting with genetic engineering was so that they could come up with a more moral society, but instead the results of the experiments were unbalanced and one-sided human beings with no real moral center. That was how cities like Chicago became cut off from the rest of the population, so that the genetic damage could "play itself out" and result in Divergents entering the population.
Tobias, who is not Divergent but still faction-pure (in other words, still genetically damaged), joined another non-Divergent in a misguided attack on the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, and while it is unsuccessful it causes a rift between Tobias and his girlfriend, Tris. While Tris is initially lured into helping the Bureau in its efforts to stop the Allegiant forces from destroying Evelyn's government, Tris soon realizes that David is willing to remove the free will of the people and wipe their memories with a new serum in order to stop the upcoming war, and Tris then realizes that Tobias' attack on the Bureau was justified. Tobias, Tris and their friends decide to use the memory-wiping serum on the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, though whoever retrieves the serum will most likely die due to the traps in the security system, and so Caleb - Tris' brother, who betrayed her and all her friends - volunteers for the job in hopes of winning Tris' forgiveness, which she says she might give, holding back her emotions. The rest of the group inoculate themselves against the memory-wiping serum and set out to save the city and inoculate it as well. But not everyone has hope. Peter, who has betrayed the Dauntless group before as Caleb did, thinks he has no hope, and begs for his memory to be wiped. Tobias does it for him, and his mind and memories are erased completely.
Meanwhile, Tris ends up breaking into the chamber to release the memory-wiping serum herself, after Caleb is unable to do so after being caught by guards. She has always been immune to serums as a true Divergent, and this saves her life. David and his guards happen upon her, but she manages to trigger the serum release just before David shoots her, killing her. Tris' death is shocking, one of the most shocking parts of a very adult and sad and serious trilogy. I was not expecting it.
The rest of the group is grief-stricken and angry, and Caleb tells Tobias that Tris didn't want to leave him. Tobias tries to use the memory serum to wipe his own memory and stop grieving for Tris, but Marcus and Christina convince him not to do it.
The epilogue shows the city a couple years later, with peace finally settling and and the Divergents multiplying. Tobias is haunted by what has happened to him still, but begins to come to terms with what has happened. Caleb has moved on too, regretting his actions but not out of love for Tris. The other Dauntless have settled into the new peace, trying to rebuild their lives and mostly succeeding.
Best part of story, including ending:
I loved the writing and the uncompromising dedication to gritty realism, unlike other teen dystopian novels like The Hunger Games. Nobody survives unscathed, and it's heartbreaking to see teenage warriors with the kind of PTSD that these characters have.
Best scene in story:
The bittersweet, emotional scene in which the dying Tris sees her mother's spirit. In an echo of Tris' near death in Insurgent, when Tris yells that she hasn't finished her life's work, the dying Tris in Allegiant asks her mother "Am I done yet?" and her mother assures her that she is.
Opinion about the main character:
Tris' bravery and her dedication to what was morally right.