Unhappy Endings

December 12, 2016 Off By Elaine Arias

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Divergent saga.  You’ve probably heard of the films, but they were based on a trilogy by Veronica Roth.  The premise – teenage girl lives in heavily segregated post-apocalyptic Chicago, learns to fit in with another group while learning how to “fight” and falling in love with some guy – sounded like Lois Lowery’s The Giver and…well, probaby Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy but that book’s premise wasn’t entirely original (see Stephen King’s The Running Man and Battle Royale by Koushun Takami).

The first film adaptation did fairly well, but the other two films in the saga did not.  Now the final part of the film saga, Ascendant, is in limbo because the studio does not want to blow a lot of money on a movie that won’t do well (as of right now, it’s going to be a TV movie).  I thought this was interesting.  The last two films of the saga are based on one book, Allegiant, which is an annoying trend, and the ending of Allegiant may be one reason the film didn’t do so well, and might also be one reason for the studio’s hesitance in making a theater-quality film (as opposed to a made for TV movie).

Spoilers ahead….

As I mentioned earlier, the main character, a teenage girl named Tris (her name was Beatrice, but she changed it), lives in a segregated city.  It’s not segregated by race or religion, but personality traits.  These are called factions.  Tris was born into Abnegation (charitable people who live selflessly).  The other ones are Amity (peace-loving, non-violent hippie farmers), Candor (people who always tell the truth, otherwise known as people who have absolutely no filter), Erudite (smart people) and the Dauntless (silly goth-punk adrenaline junkies who are supposedly the city’s security force).  The story starts out with Tris, her brother and other teenagers at some coming-of-age ceremony where they choose the faction they’d like to be with permanently.  Tris chooses Dauntless.  Her brother chooses Erudite.  She eventually learns that she’s Divergent – a person who can easily fit into more than one faction.  This is bad, of course.  She spends the story trying to figure out why it’s so bad and what happens to Divergent people.

Anyway, the rest of Divergent is about Tris training to join the Dauntless faction permanently, falling in love with one of her Dauntless trainers and learning a bit about the society they live in.  Insurgent is about Tris and her crew fleeing Chicago.  Allegiant is about learning the truth behind the faction system and how to fix everything, and this is the big spoiler – Tris sacrifices herself for the good of everyone, of which is true to her Abnegation upbringing and her Dauntless side.

Now this is a YA series, so of course, fans everywhere were very, very angry over the fact that Tris died in the end.  They clearly wanted a “happily ever after” ending where Tris and Four (real name Tobias) pledge themselves to each other for eternity, or even get married.  Even Katniss and Peeta end up married with children at the end of Mockingjay, the last book in the Hunger Games trilogy.

I personally thought it was ballsy and brave for Veronica Roth to end it the way she did.  Tris clearly did not commit suicide, so it’s not as if Roth is promoting suicide.  I know it’s tough to kill off characters, and it is probably really tough to kill off a main character.  However, if the story calls for it, go for it, and as I said, I respect her for it because it’s unexpected, especially in YA.

I don’t want to tell people what to think.  If you don’t like it, that’s okay.  But authors should write the story as they feel it should be, not to pander to audiences.  It won’t be real if you do.  I wasn’t terribly bothered by Tris dying, but I’ve been sad at the deaths of characters before, so I understand how they feel, but I’d never be angry with the author, and I wouldn’t demand they rewrite it or write off the author or the book series because of it.