Thursday, October 24, 2013

An Open Love Letter to Veronica Roth

NOTE: SPOILERS FOR ALLEGIANT. Read at your own peril. 

Dear Veronica Roth,

I finished Allegiant last night, and I cried. Please know that crying is not something I often do when it comes to novels. Though novels move me and I find myself connected to these fictional characters often better than I am connected to people in real life, it is rare that a novel brings tears to my eyes. The last novel that did so was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (A Memory of Light does not count, since I did not weep over the content. I cried as I turned the last page because it was the end of an era.) In fact, up until yesterday the only books I had ever cried while reading were the Deathly Hallows and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Sirius' death still hurts). My tears do not come easily. They are not cheap.

But I cried for Tobias.

Not for Tris. There are no tears in my eyes for her. Her ending was perfect and beautiful. No, I cried for the broken boy she left behind and the hard journey he has ahead of him.

I know you've gotten a lot of vitriolic anger directed at you for Tris' death. Fandom is a tenuous thing, teenage fandom even more so. When Robert Jordan (via Brandon Sanderson) killed off a character, there were tears but no hate*. We understood that it was an adult epic fantasy series and that in adult epic fantasy series not everyone can survive (George R.R. Martin has taught us this lesson only too well). But Young Adult fiction--oh, YA fiction--it's supposed to be a safe place, a place where young couples fall in love despite impossible odds and live to grow old together...except, that's not true. This is a lie we've told ourselves.

Teenagers face tragedy everyday. Teenagers live in the real world. And Young Adult fiction, like all good fiction, should not only tell us amazing and beautiful stories, but it should help us understand the world we live in. A world where if you participate in as many military actions as Tris did, the statistical odds is that one of those bullets is going to hit you in the wrong place.

And though Tris' died, Allegiant is not by any means a dark book. It's a beautiful book of hope. Hope in the future and that even though the person who means the most to you may die, you must and should live on. And ultimately it's hope that YA books must contain. Not happiness. Not happily ever after, but hope that the future can and will be better.

Tris died to give the world hope. Caleb could not have done what she had. He was not Dauntless. Even if the death serum hadn't automatically killed him, if he had somehow managed to get into the room, he would not have been able to stay cool under pressure--when faced with David and his gun--like Tris did. Tris had to be the one to go in there.

And let's be honest, she wouldn't have been the girl that Tobias loved if she hadn't.

The ending was perfect. I know you know that--you wrote it--but I want you to know that some of your fans know that too.

In a world where too many of our YA books end in unrealistic happy endings that just make them frankly cliche, I applaud your decision to the integrity of the characters and the story. The Divergent series has always been a series of sacrifice, from the very first book. We knew from book one that this wasn't going to be a happy story. After all in happy stories girls don't kill their best friends.

Your story was perfect. It was beautiful. It is a story I will not forget and that will stick with me for the rest of my life. 

I will never forget Tris, Tobias, and their struggle for a new world. 

Thank you for this series and it's perfect ending.

I wish Tobias the best in his new life--whether he finds love with someone else or not. 

And I wish you the best of luck in your undoubtedly forthcoming other series. You have turned me from a person who read your books and enjoyed them into a true fan. 

Thank you,

*I'll admit, there might have been some hate because of one particular character's death, but we all know that was Harriet's fault, not Brandon's, and that's neither here nor there.

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