“One choice can transform you — or it can destroy you.” (cover)
After the tense, heart wrenching conclusion to Divergent, Insurgent by Veronica Roth opens with the protagonist, Tris Prior, having an internal battle within herself. Throughout the entire book, Tris struggles with multiple losses of loved ones that, in the back of her mind, she blames herself for their deaths. This has physically and mentally injured her and she finds herself unable to fight for herself because she doesn’t want to potentially keep adding more deaths onto her shoulders.
Since the intense attack concocted by the Erudite faction, Tris, her boyfriend and Dauntless leader Tobias (“Four”), her brother Caleb, and only a handful of Abnegation survivors turn to the Amity faction for safety. While they gradually recover, they gain bits and pieces of information that they finally discover that, unsurprisingly, Amity is not going to take part in the conflict between the factions, nor fight the rouge army consisting of Erudite and Dauntless traitors.
Due to this information, the group is forced to leave their safe-haven and seek out other remaining factions and groups for aid. Throughout their entire journey to find support and alliance, Tris and the group are tested immensely. Gradually past friends are unveiled as enemies, surprising and dangerous alliances and potential truths are uncovered, and relationships seem to strain under the forces that threaten to rip them apart.
“No matter how long you train someone to be brave, you never know if they are or not until something real happens.” (169)
I decided to read Insurgent because I absolutely enjoyed the previous book Divergent when I read it two summers ago. Coming into Insurgent, I had high expectations and I was hoping that it would level out with the previous book or even surpass it. To be honest, I’m not sure if it did either. My emotions and my reaction is torn between if I like the book or not. Yes, Insurgent possessed many of the traits that I adored in the first book like conflicted individuals, unforeseen plot twists, action, etc. Yet this book seemed almost repetitious, contain unnecessary action, have no plot twists that made me go “Wow! I never saw that coming!,” and a lot of emotion that really overtook the personality of most characters. This is why I am going to separate my reaction into two parts: aspects that I enjoyed and aspects that I didn’t.
First, I thank the author for starting the second book’s plot immediately after the first. I hate it when authors let time pass between books in, let’s say, a trilogy. I love that I’m able to delve right back into the events following the dramatic conclusion of Divergent. With doing so, readers are able to see characters, like Tris, beginning the process of internal conflict due to their past. Like I said before, Tris Prior is deeply injured, both physically through her shoulder and through the consequences of her actions after she killed a good friend of hers. Personally, I like to read about the conflict that a character is dealing with instead of the author leaving readers in the dark about character’s personal feelings and thoughts. Due to this conflict, Tris locks herself away and tries to keep herself from future pain, even if that means building a wall of lies between her and the people that love her.
“We both have war inside of us. Sometimes it keeps us alive. Sometimes it threatens to destroy us.” (242)
I love Tris’ personality: tough, flexible to life’s problems, and even the points where she lashes out. It reminds me of what most teenagers are like. We build walls around ourselves so that we come off as strong and independent, we tend to find ways through the tribulations in life, and of course, we can sometimes lash out at others due to something called hormones (I mean, what in the world could that be? Note: sarcasm). Another thing that I liked about Insurgent was relationships between factions and the way that the author, Veronica Roth, successfully set up the Erudite faction bullying their way to the top, knowing that Candor is honestly cruel and Amity always turns to peace rather than conflict. I was also happy with the way that the author incorporates the Factionless and Divergent population into the story, because it shows significance in the story’s progression.
Now we get to the aspects that I didn’t quite like about Insurgent. Though I liked the personality of Tris, sometimes it got quite old. Her secretiveness and hurt starts creating a huge gap between her relationships and I recognized this as only a result of teen angst. This is what makes up a lot of the plot of the book instead of what made the first book so intriguing: the initiations, secret plots and twists, the danger of being both Dauntless and Divergent, etc. I didn’t even see much of character relationship growth, as well. In the most obvious case, her relationship with her boyfriend, Tobias. From my personal opinion, I’m not a huge fan of strained, uneasy love stories. Much of the book was spent on Tris and Tobias’ unusual and unmoving romance, instead of the faction war that was happening.
The only part that I am still conflicted on was the huge plot twist at the conclusion of the story. Personally, it wasn’t very unexpected like I would have liked it to be, yet I kind of like how it leads to you not knowing what’s going to occur next. This is why I’m willing to still read the next book, because I just want to see how the author is going to play the rest of this out.
My reaction may just be due to my high expectations due to the first book being amazing. I’m still interested in the series and I’m excited to see how the rest of the story plays out, but I’m just stating that I wasn’t completely blown away like I would have liked. I hope to get to the third book Allegiant soon and be able to write a review on how I felt.
Taking a look at Veronica Roth’s writing style in the trilogy is quite intriguing due to the fact that it is abrupt and clipped. This keeps the story short and to the point, pushing it along at a fast pace. This style is interesting and I can see how many would like this type of style. For me, I like it when I am able to get through a story quickly and still be able to still be engaged in the plot, but there were many parts where I wish that there was more description. Some places I felt as though it was anti-climatic due to the fact that I wasn’t absorbed into the story because I was left in the dark due to the lack of details.
Other than that, I believe that Veronica Roth’s writing style works well for this dystopian genre. Her story starts out as subtly pointing out the theme, but by the time that readers get to Insurgent the theme in full force and that theme is: humans are far more complex than the societal restrictions that we attempt to place ourselves and others into.
“Killing you is not the worst thing they can do to you…Controlling you is.” (221-222)