by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #2
Published on May 1, 2012 by Katherine Tegen Books
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves - and herself - while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable - and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.
Boy am I glad I read Insurgent right after Divergent, or I’d have been lost. The second installment in the dystopian series, focused around future Chicago, picks up immediately after Divergent with no reflection on the first book. If you don’t have book one fresh in your mind, you may be a little lost. There is a definite disconnect without reading these books back to back and it’s one of the faults of Insurgent. The problems in Divergent continue on through the sequel except this time, they’re a lot more noticeable. I wasn’t able to gloss over the lack of world-building and character development because this novel couldn’t quite keep my attention. I read it in one sitting–Roth’s writing style is easy to push through, thankfully–but I felt like I read 500 pages of fluff to reach an ending that was not only predictable but cliche. It’s safe to say that Insurgent didn’t improve on the series but maintained its (below) average rating.
Let’s begin with Tris and Tobias. Tris is sixteen, a full Dauntless member now, and in the middle of a crisis as her city falls into ruins. Everyone’s looking to her for an opinion and whether it’s stress or lack of experience, she reverts to a typical teenage girl. The strong heroine of Divergent disappears into a boy-obsessed mental mess. Tobias/Four as a personality swap too and goes from kind and cool to short-tempered and possessive, freaking out every time Tris does something dangerous. Granted, she’s pretty depressed most of the book and takes on the role of Bella from Twilight when Edward leaves her, seeking danger just to see him. Tris doesn’t need to do it to see her boyfriend but her reckless nature really takes a turn for the worse in Insurgent. Now I could talk about the other characters, especially now that the cast has grown, but none of them really matter because the bulk of this novel focuses on Tris and Tobias. They’re either hugging and kissing, or talking (which leads to fighting half the time). They’re in the middle of Chicago which is on the verge of total destruction, yet nothing really happens. Instead, the book gives so much attention to their relationship that the novel lost one of the only redeemable qualities pulled from Divergent–the action.
Don’t get me wrong, Insurgent had plenty of action. So much, in fact, that the break-neck pace was too fast. But in all the action, I didn’t feel motivated to root for one character’s success or another. Roth didn’t make me care about the characters or their fates. And then we reach the ending. I’ll admit that things did pick up a little and the Tris/Tobias relationship finally took a backseat near the end of the book but the fact that the end was predictable took away from the good here. Divergent and Insurgent are set in a dystopian world. There’s something wrong with the society. Yes, we’ve got that. Then Roth decides it’s time for the “big reveal,” the secret that everyone has been fighting/killing each other to use to their own advantage. Except, if you’ve read almost any dystopian novel out right now, you probably saw the ending of Insurgent in Divergent. It left me completely unsatisfied with the book and while I wasn’t eager to read Allegiant (book 3) after this novel, I felt the need to finish the series out. It can’t get much worse, right?
Regardless of the flimsy, repetitive plot and change in character personalities, I finished Insurgent as quickly as I did Divergent. These aren’t hard books to get through but as I mentioned in my review of Divergent, don’t set your expectations too high. I hope that this was just the lull before the amazing literary storm Allegiant needs to be to make this series worth reading. Insurgent was one of the books I looked forward to reading in the hopes that it improved on the first book and I was sadly disappointed. On the bright side, no love triangle. Roth managed to avoid that particular YA cliche, thank goodness. If you were hesitant about Divergent, be cautious when reading the sequel.