The Unpopular Ending

Despite all my endeavors to become a published author, I will always be a book fan-girl first and a writer second.  No question.

The recent release of the final book in the Divergent Trilogy, Allegiant, generated much gleeful jumping on my bed.  As soon as I completed my dreaded exam, I crawled into the reading cave.  Yet for once I cracked open a beloved book with apprehension.  The early reviews for this book were not good.  Devoted fans were unhappy – so unhappy there were evil rumors spreading about threats against the author.  What could have derailed this
series’ cult-like following?
The Unpopular Ending!

No spoilers, I promise.  But I’m pretty sure it’s common knowledge by now that the target audience for this trilogy, tween and teen girls, were pissed off with the ending of the final book.  They read tons of paranormal and dystopian trilogies, all of which feature a strong girl coming of age under dire circumstances.  This girl becomes more than a character to them as she rises up against oppression and kicks serious butt.  She’s the best friend / mentor / older sister they wish existed in their own lives.  They worship her as she lives a thrilling adventure they can only imagine during their boring school days.  And of course there is always a sexy guy or two, thrust into the same struggle, so the protagonist can fall in love and have even more at stake as the danger escalates.
I know, I just described pretty much every series in the young adult section of your local book store.  We all know how this story is supposed to end.  Kick-butt girl and sexy boy work together to win against all odds.  Bad guys are destroyed.  Fallen comrades are mourned.  Kick-butt girl and sexy boy ride off into the sunset to make babies together for future spin-offs.  Reader shuts the book with a sense of closure, free to move on to a new obsession in a new series.

I won’t disclose how this book deviated from that formula.  You’ll have to experience it for yourself.  What I will tell you is that I loved every second of this series.  Veronica Roth crafted amazing characters who morphed before our eyes. Tris grew stronger both physically and mentally as the series progressed, but still showed her compassion and love along the way.  When she encountered an impossible decision near the end of the series, there was only one choice the protagonist I knew and loved would make.  Anything other decision would’ve felt like a sell out.  And any other consequences for her actions would’ve felt contrived.  I’d have called shenanigans.
Bravo to Ms. Roth for making the tough decision to stay true to her characters.  I understand why teenagers, with all their hero-worship of celebrities and characters, might be outraged.  The happy ending is key to their personal happiness.  As an adult, I found the ending bold, thought-provoking, and beautiful.  This reader is still haunted by Tris’s story weeks later.

About Jennifer Kay

Jennifer Kay is a KidLit author and Structural Engineer. She has a VCFA MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, is an SCBWI Rockford Network Rep, edits the SCBWI IL Prairie Wind, and belongs to Mystery Writers of America. Jennifer works as a writer, freelance editor, literary agency reader, and creative writing teacher.
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