Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Happy Book Birthday, ALLEGIANT & My Farewell to the DIVERGENT Series

Disclaimer: Yes, I've finished reading the whole book today. No, there are no spoilers here, and it's not a review, but if you don't want to have any hint of an idea of what your emotions might be like at the end of the book, you might want to wait to read this. 
I feel like I've been with this series for a long time. Back in early 2011, there was a ton of buzz about this debut book called DIVERGENT coming out in May. And the author, Veronica Roth, had an ARC contest on her blog. And I won it! I got to read it in March 2011, and I knew then that it was going to be big. I shared the book with students and we all agreed it was going to be a really, really long wait for the next book (one of the downsides of being lucky enough to get an advanced reader copy).
So I spent the next year anxiously awaiting the May 2012 release of INSURGENT. I was extremely lucky that a kindhearted and generous editor let me know she was sending me a hotly anticipated ARC of the second book - and that it would be sent out a month before the release to avoid spoilers. So I got my copy of DIVERGENT out knowing that I would want to reread it before getting book two since it had been so long since I read it, and I was again drawn right back into that world. And then a package came in the mail addressed in this way.
I set to reading it right away, and as I was reading INSURGENT, I couldn't help but think this was really something special I got to be a part of, and what a feeling that is to have as a reader. I loved book two also and with the big reveal at the end I knew something crazy was coming. And then began the long wait for book three. What would be the title? What would happen? Who will be cast as Four in the movie? Why has the release date been pushed from spring to fall?! (Well, obviously because the author wanted to make sure it was the right book).

I've been eagerly anticipating October 22nd since it was announced as the release date for ALLEGIANT. I even preordered the ebook so I would have it right away since there were no midnight releases in my area (and I knew I'd have to teach). I've been reading DIVERGENT aloud to my 8th graders (in anticipation of a field trip to see the movie in March), and we weren't done as of Friday, so I brought the book home and finished reading ahead myself because I knew that I wanted to reread the first two books because it has been so long since I read them. I wanted to really wrap up my experience with this series in the best way I could without being confused about details. This weekend, I reread INSURGENT for the first time (was I ever glad I did - there was so much I had forgotten!). And as I talked to my students on Monday, I shared my excitement for the release of ALLEGIANT with them.
I told them I wasn't sure if I was going to stay up past midnight so I could start reading or just get up extra early in the morning, but that while they were on the computers typing first drafts of papers today in the library computer lab (an inadvertent lesson planning win), I would of course be available for help/questions, but I would also be reading every spare moment I had. Well, I ended up getting up at 4am (How appropriate. Ha!) to start reading because I was so excited I couldn't sleep any longer. After 2 1/2 years, I was finally going to find out how this journey would end. I read for awhile, got ready for school, and headed in. My librarian also got the ebook, so we talked back and forth in our excitement all day. Every class that came in, students asked me if I had it, if I was reading it, and how far I was. By the end of the day, I was only 80 pages from the end, so I decided to just stay in my classroom to finish it.

*I'm going to talk about ALLEGIANT, and it's spoiler-free, but if you don't even want a hint of an idea about my feelings, you might want to skip this part.
At 4:30 this afternoon I finally did, and there were many tears. I was so grateful that a couple of my students who have read DIVERGENT and INSURGENT were in after-school activities in classrooms near mine so I could go talk to them right away. I was an emotional wreck after the events in the story, and I needed someone to talk to (without spoiling anything) who would understand how I could be crying over a book, and they did.

I know some people may not like events that happen in this book, and as devastated as I may be about certain things, I know that I trust authors to do what's right by the characters and the stories they create. I've loved their books and writing for a reason, so even if it's not what I might have hoped for, I know that it's being true to what has to happen to tell the story completely. Especially in dystopian books, these are harsh times and bad/sad things have to happen. I think this book will require some processing time and stepping back to appreciate it for what it is, without gut reactions of not understanding why certain choices were made. But here's the thing: If I didn't care so much, I wouldn't be upset or in tears or in disbelief, and it's because of what the author has written that I care so much. I've always thought: I may not always get a happy ending in a book, but it's the hopeful ending I really want so I can feel comfortable leaving these characters behind and knowing they're going to be okay. After this long with these characters and this world, I'm so glad I got to finish my time with them in one big stretch like this, and that I was left with some hope at the end.

Happy Book Birthday ALLEGIANT and Veronica Roth! Thank you for the memories and emotions and experience I got to have reading your books, and especially for the connections I've been able to make with students through your words and stories.

1 comment:

  1. Really?! I stopped reading the series after Divergent because I wasn't sold on it. But I really trust you. I follow you and think you are a very smart interesting woman. So...in short (not really)..I'm going to buy Insurgent tomorrow and being the journey. Thank you.

    First in Maine