on May 2, 2012
I have been eagerly awaiting Insurgent by Veronica Roth along with many other people after the startling and thrilling first book, Divergent. That book introduced us to five factions of a dystopian society, and one brave girl named Tris, who decides to join the Dauntless. It's clear by the end of the book that she belongs to the group of Divergent, meaning that she could have belonged to any one of these factions with her personality traits.
This book takes off immediately where the last one ended. At first it's a jumble of confusion, and I may have made more sense if I had reread the first one right before this one. The factionless have more of a story, and we get more fleshed out characters. I have to admit I was a little disheartened by the first half of the book. To me, it seemed like we were drifting around in Tris's bizzare guilt trip. I understood she was working through her issues but I was almost overwhelmed by the amount of pages dedicated to this. Overall, the story has a darker tone and almost gets too heavy.
However, things change when secrets start to be revealed. My absolute favorite part of the book was when we are introduced to some Erudite characters who end up being more three dimensional than Tris ever imagined. The last secret revealed made the whole book worth reading.
While I had some reservations, I thought overall this book was well written and ramped up heavily at the end. The last 25% of the book was really terrific. Just personally, I think that I liked the first book better because we are first introduced into this world that is so completely different than has been created before. However, the second book is a solid companion to the first, and I am excited to see how the story ends.
on May 1, 2012
First Impressions: I had been looking forward to reading Insurgent ever since I finished reading Divergent (for the millionth time) last year. One morning I woke up and before I even had my morning coffee, I heard a nice thud outside of my front door. I kind of feel like there should have been fireworks and confetti when I opened up the package and laid my hands on my pretty proof of Insurgent. I hugged it. I stroked the cover, and it gained its place at the top of my review pile. My precious..... If you haven't already read Divergent, you need to go get a copy NOW! You are missing out on reading an amazing trilogy and trust me; you don't want to miss these books.
First 50 Pages: The beginning of Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off, luckily. I was hoping there wouldn't be any gaps in time between the first book and the second, and there wasn't. I was also worried that Insurgent would suffer from Sophomore Slump, but it didn't. If fact, I think I enjoyed Insurgent more than I did Divergent because this book has a ton of action and more character development. However, the world-building in both books is phenomenal. I would love to know how Veronica Roth comes up with the things that she does, because even though this world she dreamed up is crazy (and awesome), it never seems too far-fetched. The Young Adult market is so flooded with dystopian novels right now that aren't plausible, with the exception of a select few, including the Divergent/Insurgent novels.
Characters & Plot: I'll do my best to keep this part as spoiler-free as possible so I don't ruin anything for anyone, but there might be some minor spoilers, so readers beware.
Like I stated above, Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off. Tris is heading back to the Amity headquarters, not to mention being devastated from having to watch a good majority of her family murdered and from murdering one of her best friends, Will, while he was under a simulation. All of the consequences of the events that happened in Divergent begin to truly take its toll on Tris and she has a lot of feelings and emotions she has to work through.
Four, Caleb, and Marcus are also accompanying Tris as they travel to not only Amity, but Candor as well. They need to let everyone know about the war against Abnegation and that they have teamed up with Dauntless and Erudite. Unfortunately, they gain no support from either faction. A lot happens in Insurgent and it is easy to get confused on what exactly is going on. Jeanine Matthews is still on the loose and is collecting Divergent people for a purpose that isn't fully known. Four's mom also makes a comeback as the leader of the Factionless, and all sorts of other sub-plots and hell break loose. Veronica Roth makes it increasingly difficult to be able to choose sides and to be able to see which factions are the real villains, compared to the factions that have made bad choices. It is an incredibly complex story that somehow just works and I'm not sure any other author would have been able to put together so many different ideas that flow together so well.
Another relief of mine was the fact the Roth decided not to include a love triangle when it comes to Four and Tris' relationship. I was really worried that she would, because it seems like the thing to do in Young Adult novels, but she didn't. However, there are some personality issues that are going on in Insurgent that has changed from Divergent, and the couple endures their own struggles because of the varying feelings and emotions they are experiencing. Tris feels very helpless and is depressed for the majority of the story and it comes across in her recklessness. Four, or Tobias as he is called more often in this book, is a little more edgy in Insurgent, and does his best trying to do well for Tris, but he has his struggles and you can't help but to feel bad for him. Tris doesn't always make his job as the good boyfriend, easy.
Final Thoughts: There is a HUGE revelation that takes place in the final half of Insurgent and the book ends with a cliffhanger that is going to drive me absolutely insane until I can read the last and final book. Insurgent surpassed my expectations and I foresee it ending up on every single "Best of 2012" list later this year. Without a doubt, I very highly recommend picking up your own copy of Insurgent when it comes out May 1st!
on July 6, 2011
When I finished 'Divergent' I sat thinking about it and feeling a lot like I did when I finished 'The Hunger Games'. It was a similar reading experience...a fast-paced story in an other world situation with a strong female character. The story transported me and I had a hard time pulling myself out of the book in order to continue with my every day things. In fact, when I closed the book after finishing it, I was struck by the desire to start over from the beginning because I didn't want the experience to stop. It was THAT good.
(I'm not giving a plot overview...many others have already done that)
The world Tris lives in is fascinating. I was gripped at first learning about the society and the factions and I found myself enjoying the story more and more as she chose a faction and went through the iniation process. In fact, I think the initiation (which takes up most of the book) was my favorite part.
The ending contains a twist I didn't expect. I thought the story, despite little hints of the Erudite mystery, would end with whether or not Tris would be accepted into her faction. It doesn't. It suddenly takes an unexpected, over-reaching twist that changes the entire landscape of the story. It goes from a story set mainly in one faction to one that deals with the beginning of a societal fray. It was unexpected, but enjoyable. It was something the author had built up to, but in a subtle way. I also liked that while this is going to be a series, the book ends without a cliffhanger. I hate cliffhanger endings that leave you wondering for months. While there are many things left to discover in this world, you do get an ending with this book.
The characters are believeable, lovable and, at times, scary. I love the evolution of Four (though I hate his other name...but that's a personal thing) and Christina. Actually, I really just love Four.
The story is written in first person from Tris' perspective. She's a good narrator, though first-person does make the action/fight sequences a little clunky. 'Divergent' also has plenty of action, humor, mystery and a little bit of romance.
If you enjoy the feel of Hunger Games, I recommend this for you. I also recommend it to anyone who loves a good story.
on January 7, 2014
I rarely write book reviews, but I felt the need to step in here based on all of the glowing reviews for this nonsensical book. This book reads like a high school creative writing assignment - there's a few moments of promising prose in here, but the overall story just requires too much suspension of disbelief. People don't fit into black and white boxes now, they never have before, and there's no reason to ever believe that people will - the entire premise of the book is just too stupid of an idea to take seriously. The lazy and uninspired "testing" mechanism used to determine a human being's entire personality is equivalent, in my mind, to claiming that you could know everything about a person based on their responses to a simple Rorscach test. It's nonsensical. The heroine of this story is thrust into her heroic role because she happens to have the amazing and unbelievable trait of - having a normal personality. No, seriously, that's what makes her a hero according to this tale - she has a normal personality, of the kind that nearly every human being you will ever meet does. People having multiple traits and affinities in their personality is not "divergent" of anything - it's the normal state of human affairs, and this book does nothing to convince me of it's premise that human beings have somehow been transformed into robotic, single-personality beings.
Making the book worse is a poorly developed overthrow plot that employs mind control (the technology for which is never explained in any way - for all the reader can tell, it's no different than magic,) a caricature of a villain, and a character development arc for the heroine that appears to consist of getting tattoos. No, I'm not being facetious here, that's pretty much the character development arc.
Like I said earlier, it reads like a high school creative writing assignment, based on daydreaming about being part of the cool kids clique, that went long and somehow got published, more than it does a fully formed and mature story. Give Ms. Roth 5-10 years to hone her craft and I believe she'll be writing some interesting stories, I just think that the current success and high book sales for this story has a lot more to do with Hunger Games mania and the coattails effect than any inherent quality of the work.
on December 2, 2013
I've not read a book this bad in a long time. First of all, the writing feels like a middle school kid wrote it. Second, the premise (everyone has to live exemplifying only one virtue) never made sense. Third, the author's idea of what those virtues entail is retarded.
Apparently, being brave means risking your life every second you can, having tattoos and piercings, and murdering people to get ahead. Being selfless means feeling bad for looking in a mirror because for just a second you thought of yourself instead of others. Valuing truth means having tourettes because you just spurt out exactly what you're thinking every time instead of holding back. Those are how flat the factions in the series are.
The main character, Triss, is also completely bland. She's forever reminding you how she's totally not pretty, but apparently there are still guys who are totally into her. The whole book's full of young adult romance BS of "I don't know why I feel funny whenever he looks at me" stuff.
Then there's always the whole anti-intelligence spin on the book that annoys the heck out of me. But to go any further would require spoilers.
on August 28, 2012
I set out on this review carefully, and in hopes that people will not hate me too much for it. I did not love Divergent; in fact, I wavered between a rating of 2.5 and 3. Part of the problem, I suspect, is likely the hype. The fandom did such a good job of convincing me that this dystopia was flipping awesome that I bought it at full price without having read it, something I pretty much never do...for good reason, apparently. To my mind, Divergent does not deserve the crazy amounts of hype, and definitely is not one of the better dystopias I've read.
My problems, though, are much more widespread than just expectations set to high because of the blogosphere's immense love for this book. Let's just go in order as I experienced my big three issues, shall we? First off, there's the writing. I realized on the first page that Roth writes in the stereotypical YA style that I loathe: short sentences that are rarely compound, mostly simple words, and lots of dashes. The writing in Divergent is only marginally better than the writing in Twilight. I make this comparison not because it's common to compare every YA book to Twilight, but because that really is the book Roth's writing reminded me of.
Next up is the world-building. Maybe it's just me but this society does not make one lick of sense. You probably know, if you follow YA fiction at all, that this world is divided up into five factions based on a personality trait: Erudite (intelligence), Dauntless (bravery), Abnegation (selflessness), Candor (honesty), and Amity (kindness). Lol whut, right? How did this happen?
"`Decades ago our ancestors realized that it is not political ideology, religious belief, race, or nationalism that is to blame for a warring world. Rather, they determines that it was the fault of human personality--of humankind's inclination toward evil, in whatever form that is. They divided into factions that sought to eradicate those qualities they believed responsible for the world's disarray.'"
Right. Because the obvious way to remove disarray and prevent people from fighting is to break them up into groups. They'll be separate but equal. In fact, each faction is responsible for a different aspect of making the society run. Abnegation, since they're so selfless, run the government and mete out resources. Amity farms. The Erudite think things and make technology. Candor run the judicial system. The Dauntless defend from any possible external threats. Am I the only one who thinks this is the worst idea ever? Who would ever have agreed to this plan?
Not only that, but a big part of being in a faction seems to be hatred of certain other factions. How is that healthy? To eliminate evil, we will separate into groups and resent one another. This is supposed to come off as a recent development, I think, but I really can't see how it could ever be any other way, since certain personality types just won't necessarily mesh well. If this were the real world, the Dauntless would probably have overthrown everyone as soon as they were unhappy with a governmental decision, since they're THE ONLY ONES WHO KNOW HOW TO FIGHT AND THEY HAVE ALL OF THE GUNS.
Oh, and I need to say a little bit more about those factions they developed. I've heard the factions in Divergent compared to the houses in Harry Potter, but that's not what I thought of as I read about them. I like to think of the factions as 'fratorities,' a word I made up to describe a gender neutral fraternity or sorority. At the age of 16, the kids of this world have to essentially rush a faction/fratority. Then they go through initiation, and if they don't pass they can be kicked out. Just like the fraternities and sororities on my college campus, each of these has a different mentality: the friendly ones, the partiers, the smart ones, the trustworthy ones, the ones that do community service for their job applications. Perhaps it was because we so few older individuals in the book, except for some parents, but there was a very childish, fratority feel to the whole thing.
The other nigh insurmountable issue with Divergent to my mind is Tris. At the best of times, I just could not believe that she's particularly special. At the worst, I wanted to throw her off the cliff more than Peter did. Since she was divergent, she was supposed to basically fit into each faction equally, but I just didn't see that. She did not strike me as especially brave, honest, kind, intelligent or selfless, despite all the attempts to prove her so. She struck me, in fact, as very average. This is fine and could have been a good thing, except that I was constantly told how unique and amazing she was. I feel like is she's divergent, than probably about half the population should be.
The other thing that really bothered me about her was her inability to be a good friend, and how incredibly mean she was. The perfect example of this is in her treatment of Al. On the very first night in Dauntless, she's in her cot, trying to sleep and resisting the urge to cry. Then she hears Al crying and thinks: "I should comfort him---I should want to comfort him, because I was raised that way. Instead I feel disgust. Someone who looks so strong shouldn't act so weak." Wow, really, bitch? It would be okay if he was an itty bitty girl like you, but big, masculine men aren't allowed to cry? This just makes me so incredibly angry. She later befriends Al, but always secretly thinks of him as a wussy baby. This is not okay.
However, you may notice that I went with a 3 rating, so I didn't hate it, even if I did flirt with a meh. Well, the 3 is because I think I will be reading the next book, because I would like to know what happens next. I do kind of like Four, and I hope he'll have more of a personality in the next book. I also liked Christina and Will and, assuming their both alive, might enjoy Insurgent more if they had a larger role.
To conclude, I think this book has been vastly over-rated. I recommend it in the same way I would recommend The Selection: with caution and to people looking for a fun, fluffy read. This one has more darkness and violence, but is ultimately satisfying to me in precisely the same unhealthy way.
on December 27, 2013
Seriously, I feel like I'm in the twilight zone or something. I was really excited to read this because everyone is talking about how great it is. Spoiler alert: it sucks.
Every character was either one dimensional or died prematurely and for no reason. I get it, sometimes you need to kill a character. Sometimes it suits the story. This didn't.
(Spoilers) Part of the problem is the inconsistent writing. Such as, "there's no way I am capable of killing anyone, so I can't pull the trigger on Tobias. Oh wait, I just killed Will. Two minutes ago I was capable of the murder of a close friend with almost no reaction. Nor reaction to the violent deaths of my loving parents.
Another problem is the dauntless faction seems to be totally sociopathic with brutal initiation rituals and little to no empathy. And like, what are we doing here anyway for over 300 pages??? Making friends that we will later murder? Fight to the top of the class in a faction that won't exist by the end of the book?
Needless to say I won't be reading the next two books. I find it hard to be invested in characters when I can see the author has no control over them whatsoever. I've already embraced the two remaining characters' imminent deaths and everyone else I was invested in is already dead so there's really no point.
The plot of this book did have potential, and at times I was riveted. But the dialogue between the main characters (love interests) was straight from a book of cliches, the writing was at best inconsistent and at worst, confusing and unclear, and the result is an author, characters and story that I can not trust or feel comfortable investing more time in.
on February 9, 2014
Thank God I didn't buy the trilogy. I bought the hype well enough to purchase the first book on my kindle, and even that was a giant misstep. (If I'd bought it on paperback like a sane person, I could have resold it, and might not have felt pressured to finish it.) I wanted to give up on this book maybe a quarter through, as it wasn't getting any better, but I convinced myself that I'd purchased it, there was no way of getting my money back, and I might as well see it through. I love Dystopian fiction, after all. I also hoped that maybe there was gonna be twist in the story that might compensate for the weak writing, ridiculous plot, and uber-bland characters. Nope. In fact, once it became clear what the "twist" and the ramping up of the plot was, I started skimming like mad. Oh man this is Young Adult in the worst sense of the term. It reads like it was written by a thirteen year old. I usually don't feel inclined to leave a negative review as it was my own darn fault for subjecting myself to the experience and hell, if you like it, you like it. More power to you. But I hated it. And this is why:
Tris. She's soooo special. But wait, she's not! She keeps protesting that she's not. She doesn't understand why her (completely ordinary, from my vantage point) reactions to that silly simulation make her dangerous. She doesn't understand why boys like her or her friends envy her, or why she's important enough that she seems to inspire mortal enemies left and right. Right back atcha, sister. You're dull as can be. But at least you have "pretty eyes" to make up for that "plain face". (Seriously, Ms. Roth?) Oh, this book made me so mad. Mary Sue much? The worst part was when she had to feign vulnerability (in freaking DAUNTLESS for crying out loud) in order to get along with her peers. No wait. The worst part was where she's warned repeatedly, time and time again, that her ability to control the simulations and her speed at completing them give away the fact that she's Divergent. So then Test Day rolls around. All the important people are watching. And what does Tris do? She controls the simulations as best she can and makes it out in record time. Nice, Tris. Thank you for that. I would hate you, but you're far too boring to bother.
The plot. World was in shambles. World needed order. Hey, let's split everybody up into factions organized by one supposed defining characteristic--that sounds plausible! No opportunity for potential discord there. Also, we're going to give the most "selfless" group complete control of the government. Really? Why wouldn't everybody be signing over to Abnegation then? Especially those egomaniacal and power-hungry Erudite folk. Ever consider taking the faction down from within? No. We didn't consider that. We're just going to use mind control on the strongest, fiercest and least predictable faction of our people so they can do our bidding for us. Should anything go wrong, well, that's a safe bet. We know what we're doing. We're nerds. With stretch marks. Because apparently stretch marks and wearing glasses a la hipster make us bad people. And we're not really that bright. Did we mention that we left Four, a known Divergent rebel, in charge of said mind control supercomputer when it mattered most? And how the hell did that happen anyways? We said we were going to rape his mind some more and conduct some experiments on him. Is our first experiment throwing him in a super precarious situation where he might foil our plans? Guess so.
Four. Or more specifically, the author's diddling of Four. I'd say Tris' diddling of Four but it's really the author's. There's no real sexual tension in this book. The piss poor writing and character development are far too immature and predictable to even approach ST. But there are plenty of tangents. Tris getting distracted by the outline of Four's bicep. By the strip of skin that's revealed as Four's t-shirt rises. By his hands on her body. His breath by her ear. Also his knife by her ear. Love how he's willing to nick his crush to prove a point. He's eighteen, by the way. Tris is sixteen. That's a big deal. He's very sexy and so much older. Please be intrigued. So long as you're intrigued maybe you won't notice how terrible the rest of the story is.
I could go on about the plot inconsistencies (I racked up so many of them) and the simply UNBELIEVABLE character interactions but I've wasted enough time and energy on this book. Just be wary, guys and gals over the age of 15--this is so NOT The Hunger Games.
on December 30, 2013
I was really interested in this book during the first quarter of it. It reminded me of Ender's Game and The Hunger Games, both of which I liked a lot. However, the further into the book, the more things fell apart. There are huge problems with the book's premise, and the writing is very juvenile. The way the characters in the book are described is either inconsistent or one dimensional. The "evil" characters have no personalities at all, they are just plot devices. Tris' inability to realize that she likes Four made me roll my eyes constantly (she was raised as Abnegation, not as a nun). The ending is just the author's desperate attempt to tug at heartstrings, which completely failed for me. Overall this book feels like it was written by a 14 year old who never got an editor.
on February 2, 2014
The first book in the series was ok - not great, but good enough that I thought I'd give this 2nd book a chance. This one is terrible. I know this book was supposed to leave the ending wondering what happens next (in book 3) ... I don't care. Not going to read it. Shallow characters, stupid storylines - it's like the author was trying to merge Twilight and Hunger Games into a new story, and do it as quickly as possible. It's a total failure.