“It reminds me why I chose Dauntless in the first place: not because they are perfect, but because they are alive. Because they are free.”
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Insurgent is the second book in the Divergent trilogy written by Veronica Roth. At the end of Divergent the Erudite faction trigger a simulation-inducing serum implanted into the Dauntless faction leading them to attack the Abnegation. Tris and Tobias are unaffected by the serum and fight to stop the Erudite faction. Along the way, Tris loses both her parents and is forced to kill one of her best friends. Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off.After stopping the simulation and escaping the Dauntless compound, Tris, Four, Caleb, and Marcus seek refuge in the Amity compound. The Erudite faction are hunting the Abnegation and it’s not long before they arrive to search the Amity compound. Tris and Four escape and head for the Candor compound where the Dauntless faction (excluding the Dauntless traitors who sided with the Erudite faction and betrayed their own faction) have sought refuge. The Dauntless traitors storm the Candor compound, shooting a long-distance simulation-inducing serum into everyone and rounding up the Divergent in order to kill them. The factions are dividing into those who support the Erudite faction and those who oppose the Erudite faction. Tensions run high and everyone seems to have ulterior motives to their actions. Will Tris be able to figure out who is trustworthy in order to stop the Erudite faction?
Overall, I was disappointed with Insurgent. Two-thirds of Insurgent are boring, and, once again, the real action happens in the last 100-150 pages of the book. Roth was largely able to get away with squeezing all of the real-action that drives the plot of the book into the last 100 pages in Divergent because the events that led up to the last 100 pages were still fast-paced, action-packed, and violent, along with kick-ass characters that didn’t let their feelings for each other take over the plot. In Insurgent, however, pretty much nothing interesting happens until the last 100-150 pages. The other 300-400 pages involve Tris and Four running from faction to faction trying to evade the Erudite faction, introducing the factionless as a key player in the political side of the plot, Tris dealing with the grief of losing her parents and killing her best friend, and Tris and Tobias’ relationship problems.
Additionally, although there was more action at the ending, which alleviated my dislike for the book to a small degree, I have an issue with Roth’s logic. It becomes clear throughout Insurgent that the reason the Erudite faction have slaughtered almost all of the Abnegation faction is to prevent them from revealing some information that the Erudite faction think is dangerous. The factionless plan a rebellion to overthrow the Erudite faction, but they too want to prevent the same information from being released. Marcus (Tobias’ abusive father) insists that he can’t tell Tris what the information is because she needs to see it for herself, and in order to see the secret, Tris has to betray Tobias and work with Marcus. When the information is released at the end of the book, I was a tad confused about why everyone went to such lengths to keep the information a secret. It’s kind of obvious when you think about the fact that they live in Chicago, and are surrounded by a large fence that’s guarded by the Dauntless—not to stop people from leaving, but to stop something or someone from entering. Why were the characters so surprised then? And, why were the Erudite faction and the Factionless so concerned with keeping the information secret? Other than to retain power over a population and rule in a dictator-like fashion, what other reason could there be? I also didn’t understand why Marcus didn’t just tell everyone in the first place. The video wasn’t really necessary. Overall, while the ending of Insurgent was at least interesting because it answered some questions left over from Divergent (i.e., why the Erudite faction attacked the Abnegation faction), the revelation did not make up for sifting through pages and pages of slow-paced, high-school drama.
I came to really dislike Tris as I read Insurgent. I understand that Tris lost her parents at the end of Divergent and killed one of her best friends, but did the entirety of Insurgent need to focus so heavily on Tris’ grief? A stronger focus on her grief in the beginning and then a subtle nod here or there would have been enough. I know this is somewhat unrealistic, but it’s better than sitting through countless pages of whining and complaining. After about two-thirds of the book, when Tris has all but committed suicide, she finally realises that dying isn’t the best way to honour her parents sacrifice. *face palm. I wanted to shake her so badly! Miraculously, the whining and complaining stops, and the Tris from Divergent finally makes an appearance for the remaining 100-150 pages of real action.
Tobias’ character is almost unrecognizable. In Divergent, Tobias was tough and logical, and it was Tris’ bravery coupled with her selfishness that attracted him to her in the first place. In Insurgent, Tobias is illogical and he spends most of the book chastising Tris for being reckless. He tells her repeatedly that she’s no longer the woman he met at the Dauntless compound, and that she is not acting brave or selfless, but reckless. I certainly didn’t see a change in Tris’ character from Divergent. If Tris is reckless in Insurgent, she’s definitely reckless in Divergent. For example, she climbed a run-down Ferris Wheel and almost plummeted to her death in order to find out where the opposition had hidden a flag in a game! I also didn’t think her actions were necessarily reckless in Insurgent. For example, Tris puts her life at risk to help the Divergent escape the Dauntless traitors who have stormed the Candor compound, and she sacrifices herself to stop Jeanine from activating a simulation in the remaining Dauntless members which will make one or two Dauntless members commit suicide every night until a Divergent turns themselves in for tests. These things are brave and selfless. The real difference between Divergent and Insurgent is Tobias. Tobias’ opinion of Tris’ actions has changed, most likely because she’s now his girlfriend. Also, his reaction to Tris’ sacrifice by turning herself in to the Erudite is illogical. He says,
“‘You die, I die too.’ Tobias looks over his shoulder at me. ‘I asked you not to do this. You made your decision. These are the repercussions.’”
Who does that? Who says that? I just found Tobias to be over-bearing, like an overprotective father. I became bored of the lies, the betrayals, and the off-and-on-again relationship. One minute Tris and Four would say something like:
“‘We’re all right, you know,’ he says quietly. ‘You and me. Okay?’ My chest aches, and I nod. ‘Nothing else is all right.’ His whisper tickles my cheek. ‘But we are.’”
And the next, something like:
“‘If you throw yourself into danger for no reason again, you will have become nothing more than a Dauntless adrenaline junkie looking for a hit, and I’m not going to help you do it.’ He spits the words out bitterly. ‘I love Tris the Divergent, who makes decisions apart from faction loyalty, who isn’t some faction archetype. But the Tris who’s trying as hard as she can to destroy herself…I can’t love her.’”
Overall, there was too much focus on Tris’ grief, and Tris and Tobias’ relationship, and not enough focus on the actual plot, other than to see the Erudite faction and the Factionless move their pieces on the chess board. What Insurgent needed was an editor to chop out all of the fluff and make a consistent action-packed book. The likely scenario is that readers that have come to expect a plot-driven, action-packed, violent novel with a side of romance will become irritated by the switch in focus to high-school romance/melodrama with a side of action.
Final Verdict: Fingers crossed that Insurgent just suffers from the Second Book Syndrome, and that Allegiant will be as good as Divergent.