Linda's Reviews > Insurgent

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
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's review
May 07, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, read-in-2012, dystopian
Read in May, 2012

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Veronica Roth’s Divergent was wrought with problems for me. The futuristic dystopian society seemed to make no sense, the heroine and her love interest were generic YA cookie-cutter cliches (she’s plain and oh so relatable! He’s brooding and mysterious and sexy but for some reason he likes her!), but I was happy to see that with Insurgent came a surprising and welcome maturation of seemingly shaky foundations, along with a continuation of Roth’s strong suit – exciting and rather cinematic action sequences that should play fantastically once the series is adapted for the big screen.

Without going into too many detailed spoilers, the end of Divergent introduced a new villain and the carefully factioned society fractured and on the brink of war. Picking up here where Book 1 left off, our heroine, Tris Prior – a former member of Abnegation, the selfless faction who transferred to Dauntless, the fearless, confirmed Divergent with an aptitude for more than one character trait – has lost a lot since the beginning of the series, and now carries with her immense grief and guilt. With these new layers to Tris’ former rather one-dimensional character, and the fact that she and her fellow survivors now must race against the clock to fight a very real threat, it finally started to feel like the series is really about something.

It’s now clearer than ever that Divergent wasted too much time acting as a prologue, perhaps a symptom that publishers want every YA story to be a trilogy, dragging out storylines that could be told in a much more succinct manner. The truth is, the more Roth lingered on world building, the more inexplicable and illogical her world became. Finally, in Insurgent, things begin to feel real, with real consequences for characters and perhaps more importantly, some questions that were raised in Divergent begin to come back into play, including why on earth people would submit to choosing a faction and living according only to one character trait. Like most YA novels, Roth’s writing remains mostly simplistic, to the point and without much flair. The story and the characters must be strong to draw an audience, and luckily Roth made improvements to both in this sequel.

There’s a lot more to like about the relationship between Tris and the aforementioned brooding and mysterious and sexy boyfriend Tobias here. Roth played up the reader-as-protagonist wish fulfillment cliche too much in the first book, with Tris constantly shocked that someone so amazing could be interested in her, but at last they feel like a real couple here, with trust issues and sometimes even differing opinions. It’s through their struggles with each other and defining their relationship that the reader finally understands why they are so suited and compatible. These are not two lovesick fools in love with the idea of being in love with each other. They’re smart, they’re strong, they butt heads, they’re not afraid to do things their way even if their partner disagrees, their survival and securing a future for their society outweighs their relationship. As for teenage hormones, Roth employs classic YA tropes, so passionate make-outs are as far as it goes.

Roth’s writing really shines when she delves into action sequences, bringing them to life in believable and immersive ways. And while the series is set in a future dystopia, the action is refreshingly down to earth. There’s a lot of shooting, hand to hand combat, sneaking around hallways and the Divergent signature – leaping on and off of moving trains. The sense of danger in the books is nail-biting stuff, and pay off in genuinely surprising (sometimes shocking) ways. This was true in Divergent and even more so in Insurgent, when the stakes are much higher.

I read this sequel with no expectations after the disappointment of Divergent, but perhaps Roth’s biggest accomplishment with Insurgent? Now I can’t wait to read the 3rd and (God willing) final book in the trilogy.

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05/02/2012 page 194
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