62 of 74 people found the following review helpful
Ms. Roth, Your Logic Is Flawed,
This review is from: Insurgent (Divergent, Book 2) (Divergent Series) (Hardcover)
I loved Divergent. It was everything a book should be: smart, philosophical, funny and sad in all the right places. Although the premise was a bit unlikely, the worldbuilding was first-rate, and I was able to willingly suspend my disbelief long enough to enjoy the book.
However, there was something wrong with the ending. While a war between the factions was entirely likely, it just seemed a bit...rushed. Like the author had all of these cool things she wanted to write about and couldn't be bothered to wait until it made sense to introduce them, so she skipped all of the boring buildup and got right down to it. I hoped Insurgent would be better.
For the first half, it was. Roth took us to the other factions' compounds, and we got a glimpse of what their daily life is like. There were moments of raw beauty and power, like when Tris witnesses an Amity religious service, or when Tris and Tobias are interrogated by Candor. There were moments of chilling horror as well, like when a certain faction leader is executed. Those moments were when Roth's writing really shone.
Sadly, I don't think Roth recognized these moments for the gems that they were. As an aspiring novelist, I understand that. Sometimes, readers and writers like different things. The trick is to craft each scene as if it were your favorite, even if you hate it: to polish each scene to perfection. Unfortunately, Roth did not do this. She seemed impatient to get to "the good stuff." While this would be fine if the "good stuff" was as good as she seemed to think it was, it wasn't. The scenes Roth seemed to enjoy writing the most were often the most illogical.
**The following section contains spoilers.**
Take Erudite's big plan, for instance. Jeanine has infected about a third (I think) of the Dauntless with a serum that basically allows her to control their minds for a short time. Imagine what a ruthless dictator could do with a weapon like that. This isn't the simulation serum Erudite used to make the Dauntless attack Abnegation, kids; this is something far stronger. We see Jeanine speak through two Dauntless (telling Tris that Jeanine will kill two Dauntless every two days until the Divergent surrender) and then force them to throw themselves off a building. HOLY CRAP. Given that introduction, the opening act is going to be pretty hardcore, right?
Wrong. That's all Jeanine uses it for. She doesn't force the Dauntless to attack each other, thus thinning the ranks of loyal Dauntless. She doesn't access all of them at once and have them hogtie Tris and Tobias and bring them to the Erudite compound. Nope. She just has them deliver their message and then kills them. Well, she kills one. Tris catches Hector, an eight-year-old boy, before he falls. For the rest of the book, she chooses to remember it as the time she "chose not to save Marlene." That doesn't ring true, Roth: a real person would remember it as the time they "couldn't save Marlene," "didn't make it in time," or even "saved Hector but lost Marlene."
It gets worse: After that "attack," Tris catches a train to the Erudite compound. Alone. With the full intention of giving herself up to experimentation--which will only increase Jeanine's power, as she has SAID her goal is to learn how to control the Divergent--and eventual death. She doesn't even think of telling her friends, who would gladly suit up, arm themselves, and mount a surprise attack on Erudite to avenge the death of one of their own. She doesn't consider the fact that Erudite didn't implant the serum in all Dauntless; those could easily be left back at the compound behind three feet of reinforced steel to keep them from causing any damage, should Jeanine choose to activate said implants. No, Tris decides she's going to "die like the Abnegation" and makes the "selfless" choice to give herself up.
So Jeanine experiments on her. She puts Tris under simulation after simulation, but Tris sees each one for what it is. This sends Jeanine into orbit, who then decides that Tris is going to be executed the next morning. Now, I had heard something about a fantastic twist that no one saw coming, so when I got to this part, I thought Tris was going to die. I actually got excited. How would Roth carry the rest of the series, without Tris to narrate? Would she shift the viewpoint to Tobias, or maybe another Dauntless like Lynn? Unfortunately, Roth didn't even attempt this twist. Peter (yes, Peter, the traitor Dauntless who is now with Erudite, the Peter who stabbed Edward in the eyeball in the last book, and who tried to kill Tris so he could rise to the top) switches the death serum (they call it that) with a paralyzation serum (they call it that too) and rigs the heart monitor to flatline right about the time the death serum (seriously, Roth? could you have given it a more stupid name?) will take effect. Wow! I had no idea Erudite aka the Smart and Incredibly Paranoid Faction's equipment was so easily tampered with! How incredibly convenient for our plucky young heroine! How wonderfully coincidental that Peter (actually an acronym for Pure Evil To Every Rebel) would have a change of heart just in time to save our narrator's life!
I could go on about the lack of logic involved with Tobias surrendering himself and telling Tris about a rescue operation that's going to take place in two weeks, but I want to skip ahead to the part where Tris and a few others invade the Erudite compound AGAIN, this time so they can help Marcus (yes, that Marcus) steal the information the Priors died for. I'll take it one at a time.
First, Tris doesn't stop to think that maybe Marcus is lying to her. He's lied about a lot of stuff so far, but he chooses to tell the truth now, and Tris automatically believes him.
Second, she doesn't tell Tobias or anyone else that they're going to be helping Marcus while everyone else is attacking the compound. She could have just said "Hey, Tobe. Listen, the Erudite have this information. My parents died trying to get it, and it's probably really important for the rest of us, too. So if you could just give us some cover and explain this to the Dauntless authorities when it's all over, I'd really appreciate it." Nope, she just angsts about how what she's doing is treason to Tobias and Dauntless, and when it's over, she angsts about how now she's a traitor. Somebody call the WAAAAAHHHHmbulance! WHY DID YOU NOT JUST TELL THE OTHER DAUNTLESS IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Third, they sneak in dressed like the Erudite. Including Tris, who had just spent a considerable amount of time at the compound being introduced to doctors and interns waiting to experiment on her, as well as passing countless Erudite who saw her face. And nobody recognizes her, because Erudite clothes are magic or something. SERIOUSLY, ROTH? THEY HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY TO CONTROL MINDS BUT NOT A PLACE TO PRINT OUT A WANTED POSTER???? AND WHY DO THE ERUDITE NOT USE SECURITY CAMERAS?????
Fourth, Jeanine's office. It's heavily guarded, not by a spray of bullets (which would make the most sense) but by a computer system. Tris tries to enter, but a voice conveniently announces her name, age, faction, and the fact that she is "confirmed Divergent." It then plunges her into a simulation.
WHAT THE HECK ROTH JEANINE HAS JUST SPENT THE PAST FIVE CHAPTERS LEARNING THAT SHE CAN'T CONTROL DIVERGENT WITH A SIMULATION WHAT IS THIS IT MAKES NO SENSE FHDKLDHFUISHEIHEUTGBJKDRGUDHRIEFHUIRIEJ.
Anyway, Tris makes it past the simulation. Naturally. If I were Jeanine, I would have set it up so that if an intruder is confirmed Divergent, they would be subjected to a hail of bullets, an RPG, or another reliable instrument of death. But Jeanine was apparently created by someone who was not Erudite, and thus did not fully understand what the term "applying logic to a situation" means.
The ending twist isn't as good as I heard it was. So the city was designed to be a utopia. When the Divergent began appearing, the city was supposed to give the keys to Amity, unlock the gates, and go forth into the big bad world and save it with their awesome utopian powers. Okay....so if this was supposed to be a utopia, why divide people into factions where they embrace the most simplistic lines of thinking? Why would people who can think along multiple lines be so special that they would need to open the city gates? Why would they erase the memories of people who decided to join this utopia? If they had memory-erasing technology, why hasn't Jeanine gotten ahold of it and used it to control the city, which is apparently what she's dreamed about ever since she was a little girl?
And with that, the book ends.
I should've stopped with Divergent.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 28, 2012 12:29:43 PM PST
S. Watson says:
I just, seriously, want to thank you. I was having an incredibly HARD time getting through this book. Now, I don't have to since you made the synopsis make sense... even though the book made none. Thanks! One of the worse books I've read in a long time, unfortunately.
Posted on Feb 21, 2013 9:15:56 PM PST
Amazon Customer says:
That review was pure awesomeness!
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 21, 2013 9:35:22 PM PST
Hello Seattle says:
Yeah, the book was pretty bad. A sure sign that the author has written herself into a corner is when the ENTIRE BOOK could have been solved with one or two twenty-minute conversations. That was Insurgent to a T.
Posted on Jun 14, 2013 12:44:17 AM PDT
K. Fields says:
Agreed! The whole time she was walking to turn herself in, I thought why in the world does she think Jeanine was going to stop killing people just because Tris showed up?
Did you notice too how at the end before going into the Erudite HQ she didn't have a gun, but then pulled her gun out on someone in the bathroom? A few pages later she remembers leaving the stunner in the empty building and says she's unarmed. Seriously a few pages after that, she pulls her gun out and shoots the lock on a door. Same thing happens with Uriah. Therese takes his gun but then when Lynn comes in hurt, he pulls his gun out on an Erudite doctor demanding she fix Lynn. It drove me nuts. I kept flipping back and forth to make sure I wasn't confused or that I missed something.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2013 7:15:27 AM PDT
E. Draper says:
I agree the book has its issues, and probably there were some inconsistencies, but I disagree on your three examples.
Tris pulled a stunner against the woman in the bathroom, not a gun. She doesn't shoot a lock on a door after leaving her stunner on the bathroom sink (not the empty building) -- that was before. They needed to get into the empty building because it was adjacent to HQ. The door was locked so Christina shot it (not Tris). Then they crawled across a ladder into a bathroom at HQ. Tris was the first across, and that's when she encountered the Erudite woman and pointed the stunner at her. As for Uriah, he does point to the doctor, but it doesn't say that he pulled (or pointed) a gun. Presumably he just pointed a finger.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 10, 2013 9:03:50 PM PDT
K. Fields says:
Page 461 "I let go of the gun. ...Fernando offers me the stunner."
Page 464 "I point my gun at the lock, shield my face with an arm, and fire."
(I stand corrected that it was not in Erudite HQ but across the street; however, it was still after she supposedly took the stunner in favor of the gun.)
Page 471 "An Erudite woman comes out of the stall, and I scramble to my feet, draw my gun, and point it at her, all without thinking."
Page 476 "I realize I forgot my stunner in the empty classroom. I am unarmed again." (The classroom is in the empty building across the street.)
Page 505 "Uriah surrenders his gun without question."
Page 512 "'You shut up!' he (Uriah) says, pointing his gun at the doctor's chest.
Perhaps I have an earlier edition and some changes were made before you got your copy. That would honestly make me feel better. I always wonder how these things go unnoticed through all the editing. I'm thankful you pointed these things out because it makes me believe some mistakes were caught and corrected.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2013 1:42:06 PM PDT
E. Draper says:
Fascinating! This is what I have in my version of the book...
p.464 "Christina steps forward and says, 'Stand back.' She points her gun at the lock. I shield my face with an arm as she fires."
p.471 "An Erudite woman comes out of the stall, and I scramble to my feet, draw the stunner, and point it at her, all without thinking."
p.476 "It's only there, in the midst of the chaos, that I realize I forgot the stunner in the bathroom. I am unarmed again."
p.505 (Same text)
p.512 "'You shut up!' he (Uriah) says, pointing at the doctor's chest."
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2013 8:48:17 AM PST
K. Hirsch says:
I just want to say thank you for summarizing my thoughts sooooo much better than I did when in attempted my review. I too could not follow why a simulation would be used for an identified Divergent at the laboratory and must have rolled my eyes for the hundredth time at that point. So many holes, illogical actions....and no conversations? Really, you're in love with the guy but all you can do is kiss and say I love you? You are unable to actually have a conversation about the war that is taking place so you can plot together, using your joint skills, to plan a logical attack and assess the situation? After all, I know the people I love the most I trust the least. Yea, that's it....
When you write your book, let me know. Appreciate the validation that I was not the only one who thought this book was incredibly flawed. Thank you!!
Posted on Jan 28, 2014 8:35:27 AM PST
Thank you, this sums it up pretty well. Divergent was an awesome debut novel that the author appears to have taken the time to polish as such. Insurgent seemed like a rushed first draft rather than something that should have gone to print. I'm late to the game, but wouldn't the success of the first book give her some leeway to spend more time on the rest of the series to make it actually make sense? It's clear she's a talented writer, so it's all the more annoying because I think given time she could have done better. I've just started Allegiant and am hoping for a more cohesive plot and satisfying conclusion. We shall see!
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