"Allegiant" — the final installment of Veronica Roth's best-selling "Divergent" series — has been in readers' hands and on their Kindles for nearly a week now, meaning fans finally know the fate of heroine Tris Prior and her love, Tobias Eaton.
The heart-wrenching conclusion no doubt surprised many — with fans galore taking to social media to cry, commiserate or complain about Roth's vision for the characters she so lovingly crafted over the trilogy.
MTV News recently sat down with Roth to address many of these burning questions and concerns left lingering after the final page.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
If you've made it this far without clamping a shaky hand over your eyes, then you likely know that Tris dies in "Allegiant"'s final pages — sacrificing herself for the cause. Yep, she went there. It's certainly not a simple decision to kill off one's heroine, not to mention an infrequent act in the world of YA literature. So why did Roth do it?
"Well, it's actually been set up that way," Roth explained of the outline for her dystopian series. "At the end of the first book, she almost experiences death. She's in that water tank. She gets saved at the last second by her mother. At the end of the book, she kind of plays with the idea of self-sacrifice by letting Tobias almost kill her. Like, 'I'm going to sacrifice myself for him or whatever,' and that's not quite right, so she lives. In the second book, the same things happens. She goes to her execution in this act of bravado and self-sacrifice, and it's not quite right, so she survives."
But the lessons of the first two installments prove pivotal in the third, in which Tris truly comprehends what it means to give up one's life for another.
"In the third book, she learns what it actually means to sacrifice herself," Roth continued. "It has to be necessary. It has to be about love. She says all those things. And to me, it felt like it was her finally understanding what her parents were trying to teach her in Abnegation and finally understanding what it means to be an adult and make a grown-up decision because you have to, not because you particularly want to. So, to me, I was proud of her. I was so proud. It was like she finally became a grown-up."
Roth said she didn't have many misgivings about killing her main character, and — perhaps surprisingly — neither did her publisher or editor.
"I think they knew I would only do it if it worked or if it felt like the only way it could end," she explained.
But that doesn't mean she didn't consider alternate endings.
"I thought about other options," she said. "But the more I thought about them, the more I felt like they weren't really doing justice to her story. This is a very intense transformation that she undergoes, and to have her just be like, 'OK, well, we saved the day. Let's wander off into the sunset together,' it just didn't feel right. She earned a more powerful ending to her story than that."
Roth had much more to discuss about "Allegiant," including the book's other notable death, whether Tris and Tobias really did it and if actress Shailene Woodley knows the ultimate fate of the character she'll portray on the big screen come March 2014. Click play on the video above to hear it all from Roth.