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 27, 2012
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.
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.
Beatrice `Tris' Prior is on the run after the Dauntless, under the influence of Erudite simulation serum (get used to reading those two words A LOT), attack Abnegation. Along with Four and a few of their friends/family, they flee to Amity and seek shelter. From that point on, Tris then tours all the other Factions, learns that there is a Super Duper Secret that Erudite is now in possession of that could Doom The World As We Know It, and tries to deal with the ending of the last book and her relationship drama with Four.
WARNING: MILD SPOILERS to the ending of "Divergent"! Proceed with caution!
REASONS WHY READING THIS WAS ENJOYABLE:
+ There STILL is absolutely, positively NO ROMANTIC TRIANGLE! Many authors of trilogies, if they didn't include a secondary romantic interest in Book 1, choose Book 2 to throw in another Love Interest. Not Roth. Instead of muddying the waters, she focuses on Four and Tris and the many hardships they already have--such as trusting each other, leaning on each other, and working as a team.
+ Interesting characters. Tris spends some time mourning her parents and coming to grips with what she did to Will. Could she have saved him? Couldn't she have just shot his arm? Also, when Four tries to boss her around and bully her about her secrets, she throws it right back in his face, tells him he hasn't been honest with her, and that if he can't trust her, maybe he has lied when he said how much he loved her. It's encouraging to see a teenaged girl be so vocal about her opinions and steadfast. Other characters are fairly interesting as well: Marcus, Johanna, Tori, Uriah, etc.
+ The hint of religious differences between Factions. Tris stumbles upon an Amity religious ceremony and hints that they worship the God of Peace, while when she was Abnegation she worshipped the God of Selflessness. Very interesting to see these differences and would have loved to see more.
+ The last 150 pages are INTENSE.
+ This book is about making tough decisions, doing the right thing, and learning that life isn't black and white.
+ It is a dystopia.
REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD TURN BACK NOW OR BE READY FOR MIND IMPLOSION:
+ World building STILL makes no sense--in fact, based on the ending of this book, I have NO CLUE why this world was ever set up and run for as long as it had. How are people able to be sorted into groups? How are these groups determined? Is it all peace serums like hinted at when Tris stays with the Amity? Why aren't the Divergent affected by simulations and serums? How do they know they aren't in simulations (other than by guesswork)?
+ Much of the story seems to be people running from faction to faction, with little thread tying them together. The action is good, don't get me wrong, but having a string of action sequences with little to bind them together is just not my cup of tea. And based on where Tris and Four end up (back at Dauntless HQ), WHY THE FRAK did they bother going to Amity then the Factionless then Candor? The whole thing felt POINTLESS.
+ Romantic DRAMAZ! I've heard comparisons between this book and "Mockingjay", and I understand completely why this comparison is made. For much of this book, Tris does nothing more than mope around, feel sorry for herself, or get into romantic spats with Four. "Divergent" kept the romance in the background, for the most part, and it felt pretty organic. Here, the romance has been upgraded and makes up a good part of the story. It felt somewhat like a betrayal of what the series started out as.
+ Why the frak is Tris the protagonist? Until the last 100 pages or so, she doesn't really even DO anything. She isn't one of the Dauntless leaders, she doesn't negotiate with the Factionless. In fact, on several occasions, she has to be saved (including a pointless torture sequence). Back from "Divergent", I said:
"Beatrice, on the other hand, is just another cog in the wheel. Yes, she does save Dauntless from being wiped out, but it is unclear why we are following her story, as she seems to react instead of act. Perhaps future books will explain what Divergence is and what makes Beatrice so special, but in this book, I was left wondering why Beatrice and why not, say, her mother."
I was hoping that "Insurgent" would really boost up Tris' importance, show us WHY we were following her, what her importance was, but it did not; in fact, in many ways, I think it worse than "Divergent". In many ways, the logical protagonist should have been Four, who is way more active in the story than Tris.
+ More about Tris. My God, she's inconsistent. What does the girl ever do that is truly selfless (and not stupidly reckless)? How does she demonstrate her Erudite ability? Is every other faction filled with morons that can't put two and two together? Does the girl WANT every Erudite dead or not? If that was a personal conflict, I certainly didn't feel it. Does this girl have a death wish? Because most of her "acts of bravery/selflessness/heroism" smart more of someone who has a death wish than someone who is brave/selfless.
+ Four is a jerk. Sorry, but hiding major secrets from your girlfriend about your mother then whining when she reveals she killed someone is NOT sexy. How about instead of jamming that plank further into your eye as you try to bludgeon the speck out of hers, you sit down and f@#$ing listen as she mourns or comfort her? Not possible? Move along!
+ Five Factions do not compute--at least to me. This is going to be VERY subjective. Some people will see how the Amity or Candor are portrayed and go, "Yup, that is EXACTLY how I would expect a society that embraces peace or truth or learning to act". I am not that person. I'll buy that the Factions true virtues have been deteriorated--such as Dauntless believing "stupid acts of carelessness" and "swinging around a gun" qualifies for bravery. But Erudite wearing glasses because it looks smart? Candor using truth serums to get the truth out of people?
+ Where is the nuance? For much of the book, the Dauntless that side with Erudite are traitors (in fact, they are ALWAYS "Dauntless traitors"). Erudite are all bad and irredeemable. For a book that is about being different and embracing those differences, I don't get much of that from the conflict.
+ So many characters! *whispers* Veronica, if you are reading this, here is one tip I would love to see in the next book. I'm okay if you don't recap (though it was hard to remember the events I read last year), but PLEASE include a Character List, including what Faction each person started as and what Faction each person ended up. Because that was a HUGE part of this book, and, to be honest, I barely remembered any of the characters and any of the connections.
+ "I do not think that word means what you think it means." "Serum". "Simulation". "Traitor". Go back and read those words about 800 more times. That's how many times they appear in this book. Any substance that puts a person out is a "serum" that sends them into a "simulation". Not a "drug" that knocks them "unconscious". Not a "potion" or a "smoke bomb" or "nerve gas". No, it's a "serum" and "simulation". Anyone aligned with the Erudite who is not Erudite is a "traitor". It's not "Erudite-aligned Dauntless guards" or "blue-tagged Dauntless". It's always "Dauntless traitor guards" or "Dauntless traitor".
+ The end. After reading the Big Reveal at the end, I thought my brain would explode. It just doesn't make sense to me. Because it is so spoiler-heavy, I won't get into it, but just know that I was stunned and somewhat upset.
I really hate writing a such a negative review for this book. I really wanted to adore this book to pieces; Veronica Roth seems like a super amazing lady (I've looked at her blog a couple of times), and she has some really good ideas. Not to mention, I've recommended "Divergent" numerous times to people despite my rather lackluster review of it. Sure, in "Insurgent", the end does perk things up (even as it asks a bajillion more questions), and this is not the worst book I've ever read, but at the end of the day, I can't deny how disappointed I was when I finished this book. I'm going to continue with the series, but I can't help feeling a little deflated.
(I think I'm going to rate this 2 stars, to show my disappointment from the first book, though this isn't the worst book I've read. Who knows, maybe in a couple of days, I'll change my mind?)
on October 11, 2012
I gave 3 stars to Divergent because it was an entertaining read - a cotton-candy book. One that tastes good, but's all sugar.
The weakness in that book was plot, but the book was more focused on the romance between the two leads, which was definitely a strength.
*Entering mild spoilerish territory*
Unfortunately, the focus of Insurgent was plot, and it's rife with inconsistencies and holes. One example: evil-boy Eric (somehow a dauntless leader) captures Tris, but doesn't kill her right then and there. He takes her out into a holding area filled with other divergent captives, where he states that two of them need to be evaluated and the rest need to be killed (side note: people don't layout their plans for others to hear). Of course, he decides to kill Tris (because he absolutely hates her), but lo and behold, she's remembered that she has a knife in her back pocket that she uses to help her escape. Um, pretty much prisoner-taking 101 is to search your enemy for weapons. Secondly, more importantly, if you're going to kill the person anyway, why wait?
2nd example: Peter, who also hates Tris, and has stabbed people in their eyes, saves her by switching out a death serum with syrup (heaven forbid you just shoot somebody and get it done with) because he didn't want to be in her debt (and of course, he explains with dialogue, because people do that, I guess). While eye-for-eye behavior might be the M.O. of a few, Peter is never portrayed that way.
Other examples abound (don't get me started on Tris's brother). The author introduces a ton of action, but it's just for conflict sake without logical plot propulsion, and frequently relies on deux ex machinas (machinae?) to get herself out of them.
The strength of the first book - the romance - is bumpy and uneven. Tris and 4 hide things from each other, sometimes with good reason, but often not. (Early on, the author has them say "I have things I need to tell you" to each other, then cuts away. Do they actually tell each other anything? No. Because we got to create the drama).
Another issue that I found intensely frustrating was the belief others held that Tris was the only one smart enough to do the job. Because she's just that special. Maybe she is, but that was not shown. The logic of this book...
I couldn't finish this one (and am glad it was a library read), but I checked out the ending to see if it improved. Helps explain some of the implausible single-focus character issues (although it sure does seem that everybody's coming up divergent), but opens up a lot of other questions that I don't think the author's gonna be able to answer.
on November 1, 2013
I absolutely hated Insurgent. It suffers from familiar second-book-syndrome where plot development comes to a complete halt and we are stuck with the first narrators thoughts as she maneuvers around, trying to figure out everything that happened in book number 1. I would have been ok with this to some extent had Tris been likeable, relatable and surrounded with supporting characters that are more than names and plot devices. Insurgent failed me on all those levels.
Nothing happens until last 30 pages. The rest of the book is Tris's mindless moping, complaining, whining, sulking and brooding. This girl constantly suffered some physical ailment and could not get pass her actions in book one. I understand consequences and dealing with grief, but good God, there is a limit. Four hundred pages of this depressing, suicidal cr@p was enough. To make matters worse, she still lacks empathy. For example: one character gets shot in the spine and is paralyzed. Tris's first reaction to her hard situation is "to get over it." She allows herself time and place to grieve, while everyone else is stupid, weak and needs to get over their circumstance in short amount of time. Her selfishness was abysmal despite all the "selfless," "sacrifice," and "bravery," psychobabble. Everyone is wrong, Tris is right so she will carry it all on her shoulders (lie, betray, kill herself) because everyone else is weak and stupid. Tris dealt with crippling depression, was suicidal and constantly putting herself in extremely dangerous situations where convenient weapons appeared to give our heroine some leverage. She never once applied logic and instinct to any situation (how is she Erudite again? Oh yea, Tobias told her she perceives things better than anyone ever so it must be true). A lot of action gets resolved in the background via dues-ex machine. All that is glossed over so that we can stay in Tris's miserable, suicidal brain. Just go, jump in the chasm and die already.
Romance between Tris & Four takes stage and boy is it painful. & eyeroll inducing. They make out a lot and when they are NOT making out, they are arguing, threatening each other and constantly LYING to one another. But they are in luuurrvee and kissing'n'stuff. I have never seen a book couple lack THIS much romantic tension and ANY sexual chemistry. The angst was out of control. I thought Edward and Bella had issues, but Tris and Tobias....*eyeroll*
The world building is still unrealistic, downright stupid & filled with mind numbing plot holes. During this great revolution where factions are falling apart, these kids walk around freely, enter buildings with ease, infiltrate without batting an eyelash. Where is security? Where are the soldiers who supposedly kill on a whim? Erudite (the smart, eyeglass wearing evil geniuses) have all the technology in the world, but are CONSTANTLY infiltrated by Tris and her small gang. Freedom of movement and convenient assumptions literally make and break this grand revolution in his faction based dystopia. "On it's not this computer, but it's probably on the main, fancy computer, let's go there"...and boom...they are there and information is there, and MINIMUM security to stop them. For the intelligent faction, Erudite was extremely stupid and ignorant. You'd think they would surround themselves with trustworthy members, check for pulse when their most DANGEROUS divergent is captured and "executed" and maybe put a fail-safe on sensitive data. Erudite faction was like candyland - everyone came in freely and took whatever they wanted. But they are the big baddies around in Insurgent. What a joke. Also, FOOD COLORING AND WATER DOES NOT PARALYZE A PERSON.
There is a twist or whatever at the end, (very Biblical & preachy) but by the time I finished I ran out of f***s to give.
Oh, Insurgent. How you've disappointed me. While I didn't much care for Dauntless in the first book, I did like how it examined the idea of a society divided into factions based on a person's nature. It was an intriguing concept and it really allowed for a lot of room for Roth to explore and make some insightful commentary on human nature. Which she did do. Four's stance on the Dauntless made me want to cheer. He was clearly someone who got it, and the ending of Divergent made me eager to find out what would happen when the insight spread. Alas, it did not spread. Spoilers to follow.
First off, I just want to rant about Dauntless. Though I thought all of the factions in this book exhibited very questionable judgement, Dauntless fails on all counts. I can buy that some of them were loyal to Eric and thought the Erudite plan was nifty. Fine. But, people, they used mind control on you! I simply cannot buy the idea that more of the Dauntless wouldn't have defected, especially since it seems to me that this kind of control should be contrary to their very nature. Yet, no matter what happens to them throughout the course of Insurgent, the Dauntless insist on being impractical to the point of lacking a sense of self-preservation. This really drove me straight up the wall. They came across as exactly what Four/Tobias more or less said they were: a bunch of adrenaline junkies who can't manage to squeeze two brain cells together in order to have a rational thought. And Tris is really no exception.
As for Tris, I really liked her and really sympathized with her in Divergent. I could understand wanting to break free of a constrictive role, wanting to embrace a more exciting way of life. In this book, she simply seems to have a death wish. For all the Tris is supposed to be Divergent, she is blindly Dauntless for the vast majority of this book. She never really stops to question her actions and decide if the choices she's making are really good ones. What's more, she keeps things from Tobias and then gets angry when he has a problem with it. I get that you're afraid he'll judge you and cast you aside, I get that you're angry that he's keeping things from you, but how can you expect him to be up front when you refuse to be honest? I'm not excusing Tobias's actions, because I really thought he treated Tris like an infant for a good portion of the book, but it's like she expected him to adhere to a higher standard than she adhered to herself. That's not cool. Why, then, is she surprised when he won't really listen to what she has to say, and when he questions her judgement?
The whole nature of their relationship in this book was annoying to me. What do these two people like about one another? The attraction was clear and made sense in Divergent, here it doesn't. It almost feels like they're together because that's where they plot left them, not because they really want to be together. This is not an equitable relationship: neither party is honest with the other and they both adamantly refuse to talk through their problems. As much as I liked Tobias in Divergent, I didn't much like him here, though I was more sympathetic to him than I was to Tris. By the end of the book, Tris just seemed like a self-destructing idiot.
I also really disliked the characterizations of the other factions. Amity's passivity is totally inexplicable, as is Candor's. We're talking about a situation where two factions teamed up and slaughtered all but a handful of people from another faction and Candor and Amity don't see any reason to be concerned? I get that Roth was maybe making a statement about human nature here and, while I do get people tend to sink into denial rather than face danger, people also have a sense of self-preservation that is remarkably lacking here. The other thing I could not get past was the question of what good is Candor? The other factions all had a purpose, but Candor seemed completely superfluous, which ruined me belief in the world Roth has created.
Lastly, I was extremely uncomfortable with the treatment of the factionless, and I hope this is something that's going to be further developed in the last book. It made me shake my head to think that the factions couldn't grasp the fact that the people they exploited and condemned to a life of mere subsistence might choose to rise up against them. Gee, how unexpected!
All in all, this book felt like so much filler. I had the sense that I was on a world tour of the Divergent/Insurgent universe, and that didn't do the book any favors. Tris and Tobias bounce from one place to another with no real purpose, and it isn't until the end of the book that a key plot point is revealed. I do want to finish the series because of that plot point, but it was too late in Insurgent for it to save the book for me. Honestly, I suspect that, when all is said and done, Insurgent could be cut out completely and the real meat of the story could be told solely in Divergent and the third book.
on December 27, 2013
I wanted to like this book, I really did. I loved Divergent. Tris was a brave, strong, character that people could relate to. There was so much character development in the first book, and the dystopian society was intriguing and interesting. But all that fell apart in Insurgent.
First of all: Tris's behavior. Near the ending of Divergent, she shot and killed her friend Will, who was under the Erudite induced simulation and about to murder Tris. This tears her apart in Insurgent. Tris has a panic attack and breaks into tears every time she touches a gun. She is supposed to be Dauntless; brave and facing her fears. Tris is the first jumper, ranked first of all the Dauntless initiates. But is she brave? I realize that killing one of her closest friends would be extremely traumatizing, but I would thought that Tris could get over it. It's mentioned dozens of times that she has an aptitude for Erudite, and she does think logically, but only when it's convenient to the plot. Had Tris been analytic about the whole Will situation, she would have realized that it's not something to beat herself up over. It was Will's death or Tris's death. Will wasn't himself; he was under a simulation. It's logical and instinctual to do what Tris did in shooting her friend. Sure, she could have shot his hand or his shooting arm, but she panicked. It's what anyone would do. Her unwillingness to touch a weapon without having an emotional breakdown is, as the Dauntless would say, cowardly. Tris was brave in Divergent, and it would take courage to pick up a gun again after what happened to Will. But Tris just shies away from firearms for the entire book, having emotional flashbacks and panic attacks when she does enter the vicinity of a weapon. The ironic thing is that, had Tris been armed, many more lives of many more innocents could have been saved.
Second of all: Tris and Tobias's relationship. In the first book, I found the romance fitting and interesting, even if it didn't add much to the plot. In Insurgent, it was a disaster. It seems like Veronica Roth wanted them to be fighting, but gave Tris and Tobias no real reason to be doing so. They frequently keep things from each other when it's not necessary. Tris doesn't tell Tobias about working with Marcus, Tobias doesn't tell Tris that his mother is still alive. It's not like it would have been the end of the world had either of them spilled their secrets. In fact, it probably would have helped them both. It's ridiculously off an on, with the two of them. One moment they hate each other; the next they're kissing.
Next: the abundance of logical fallacies. Oh dear. Why did Tris need to keep Jeanine alive? She didn't. Roth apparently just wanted to add some action by having Tris and Tori fight each other. Sure, Tris wanted the information on Jeanine's computer, but under no circumstances was Jeanine the only one who could access it. In fact, in the last few pages, it's revealed that Tobias got the information himself. Sigh.
Why did Peter not kill Tris in the Erudite facility? The only explanation given is "Oh, it's honor. I don't want to be in your debt." Peter has spent a lot of his time and energy trying to kill Tris and then suddenly he tries to save her. You can't be in someone's debt if she's dead, Peter. If Peter was really as ruthless as he's often portrayed, it wouldn't bother him at all that Tris saved his life and he killed her. It was just convenient that Peter has such drastic mood swings. First he tries to kill Tris, then he saves her, and then BAM he's back to trying to kill her.
The scene where Tris, Christina, Fernando, and the others are climbing from window to window with a horizontal ladder. There are hundreds of brainwashed Candor soldiers underneath them who will shoot at any sign of movement. When Tris goes across the ladder, she falls and is clinging to the windowsill of the Erudite HQ. It says she is screaming, flailing about, and violently kicking the building, but according to the Candor soldiers, that doesn't count as "movement." However, a few moments later, Fernando is crossing the ladder bridge and his glasses fall out of his pocket. The Candor people open fire and Fernando dies a grisly death. This makes no sense. It seems to me that Tris's flailing warrants as movement on a much higher scale than glasses falling out of a boy's pocket.
Why didn't Eric kill Tris when he had captured her? We know that he was planning to kill her anyways; why didn't he murder her when he first had the chance? The answer is obvious. So that Tris gets a chance to stab Eric and flee, because she so convenient has a knife in her back pocket. Little sidetrack...how does Tris carry a knife in her back pocket? It seems painful to me, but then again, the Dauntless are supposed to be immune to pain. There is no sign given that it's a pocket knife that folds up (Tris pulls the knife out and immediately stabs Eric, no flipping open of the blade...plus it would be pretty painful to sit on a pocket knife, too. It's essentially just a lump of metal.) There is no indication that the knife is in some way sheathed, or we would have seen Tris pull the knife OUT of the sheath. Another note...back pockets on jeans aren't that big. The blade on Tris's handy dandy back pocket knife couldn't have been more than three inches long, and probably wouldn't have done as much damage as we often see.
It also bothers me how frequently Tris and the others change their clothes. In some situations, it makes sense, such as when they're trying to blend in at the Amity headquarters. But why was it necessary for Tris, Christina, and Marcus to wear Erudite clothes near the end of the book? They see several Erudites fleeing the building, but from the way that the Erudite were portrayed, they were too panicked to care if Tris, Christina, and Marcus were wearing Dauntless attire.
The plot also falls apart in Insurgent. Where is the plot? Even though a book is a part of a series doesn't mean that the author can just throw away the plot in the sequels. The protagonists hop from faction to faction for little or no reason, occasionally being in danger, occasionally not, whatever. Then Tris turns herself over to Erudite, where she is tortured blah blah blah. Seems kind of like a climax to me. But then...oops, wait, sorry that meant nothing, let's just take them back to Dauntless HQ and wait for the REAL climax. Speaking of Tris's time in the Erudite labs, what is the point of it? It doesn't advance the plot AT ALL. It gives a chance for Tris to be a martyr when it's not really necessary.
Easing into the topic of Tris's martyrdom. It's kind of Twilight-esque (Yes, I've also read Twilight...one of the worst decisions in my LIFE.) where Bella tells herself that all she's good for is self-sacrifice. Fine, since Bella is pretty worthless, but Tris? In the first book, it was shown that Tris is brave, smart, kind, and so on and so forth. Sure, you might say that it's just her Abnegation roots coming through when she gives herself up to the Erudite. But if she was truly selfless, Tris would have realized how much her decision would hurt Tobias, who later turns himself in just so he can die with her. Her decision also hurts everyone back at the Dauntless compound: Christina, who she lied to upon her departure, Lynn and Uriah; her friends who needed support when everyone else around them was dying. Selfless and self-sacrificing are two completely different things, but Roth seems to confuse them. If Tris had been really selfless, she would have thought about it and found a way to make EVERYONE happy.
One more logical fallacy related to the previous paragraph. Why didn't Dauntless just join up with the factionless and storm the Erudite compound right there and then? Right after Marlene dies and Tris is told that a Divergent must sacrifice him or her self. Sure, the Dauntless and factionless join together later in the book, but only when it's convenient.
As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to love this book. But the characters established in Divergent; the characters that I knew and loved, weren't the same. It sounded like it was written by a different person and there are a multitude of inaccuracies and inconsistencies. The main feeling I would use to describe Insurgent is disappointment. I was disappointed in the way that Roth butchered the personalities of the main characters and was disappointed at the many glaring inaccuracies. If you loved the first book, as I did, don't bother buying this. It's not worth it. Check it out from the library (yes, I know there's probably a hold list, but this book isn't so important that you can't wait for it) or borrow from a friend.
on November 21, 2012
I so, so, so wanted to be in love with Insurgent as much as I was with Divergent. I wanted to rate it 5-stars, 4, even! But ugh, I find myself struggling between a 2 or 3-star on this second book from a very promising series. Reading Insurgent felt like the Hunger Games fail of their book 3, where suddenly you are wondering if I'm reading something from the same author. At least the writing style was not lost in Insurgent, that was up to par (and the reason I went for 3 stars on this) but plot-wise, eh. (**Spoilers ahead**)
I can appreciate the emotional struggle Tris goes through in this book considering what she went through and her losses. It was a necessary part of the storyline and I was ok with it at first but then it never went away! I felt like the character went too far into the "I'm a changed person" storyline. As a reader, I don't want my characters to change so much. Go through a struggle, yes, but to completely become unrecognizable is not fun. We still want a Tris that is brave, i.e. Dauntless, and who is still Abnegation and Erudite despite what she went through. But to get to the point of being practically suicidal, that's just too far from what we love about the character and, frankly, not fun to read! Every time there was a scene where she 'should' have acted like her old self again I kept thinking, okay, she's going to come back on this one. But No! It was a fail every time and then boom someone else swooped in to save her! I still wanted to see the Badass Tris sooner than the ending despite the pain/struggles/loss, etc.
I was also very disappointed to see the Tris/Four relationship take a nose dive. Ok, realistically I didn't expect that it would continue on honky dory between them for the entire book but their interactions in Insurgent were actually annoying at times. For a couple who shared so many of their secrets with each other in Divergent, their trust was completely broken. And to only have seen honesty while under a drug was a cop out. They should have invested more into each other, it just petered out and then their love was magically restored in last pages! Why?
Speaking of last pages...ok this is where I was really annoyed. Towards the end of the book the plot changed so that Tris is given a "clue" - one mysterious, question-filled clue - from the one man we have been lead to believe, the entire book, NOT to trust. And guess what, she trusts him and then suddenly she's on a suicide mission without ever really knowing WHY!! There is some life-altering "information" that she is fighting for, willing to lose the one person that loves her for it, willing to DIE for even, and she, herself, does not know what it is?!?! It was so frustrating because it's okay to believe someone will take risks for what they believe in but Tris just blindly took Marcus' word for it and then went full speed ahead. I don't get it! Rather, it became clear to me that the author had a "Surprise Ending" but didn't know how to tell the story without giving it all away. It seemed the mission was more "just keep reading until the last page when i can finally tell you" rather than giving us a compelling story. Why not just have Tris discover the information on her own without Marcus? The tension should have been built around her trying to get the information public before she was compromised rather than just keeping us all in the dark. Silly.
Well, regardless of this disappointment I have to say that I am invested in the Divergent series. There is something still intriguing about the premise. Unlike after the Hunger Games book 3, I still like the Tris character and still have high hopes that she can grow and become a hero again in the next book. So hopefully the author, takes out the Detergent, cleans out the gunk we endured in Insurgent, and we are pleasantly surprised come next Fall. What can I say...perhaps I'm Amity! Pass the bread...