Book Review: Veronica Roth's Insurgent

About a year ago I posted a review of the book Divergent by Veronica Roth. The second book in the trilogy, Insurgent, came out the first of this month. I just happened to be at Chapters the day after it was released, and, naturally, had to pick it up.

To be honest, I had completely forgotten about the series. I had some reservations with the first book, and as such was quite blase about the release of Insurgent. But I have rarely been known to put down a book once I've picked it up, and one must finish what one starts, and so let's get crack-a-lackin' on the review, shall we?

Insurgent picks up right where Divergent leaves off. And I mean literally exactly where it ends. Unlike each of the Harry Potter books, as well as many, many other series which give you a sort of gloss over what's happened previously so you have a hope of following along, Roth dives into the deep end without even testing the waters. It's been over a year since I've read Divergent, and Roth introduces many characters throughout the first book who seem as though they are - and will remain - insignificant; I was utterly confused when I opened the first page of chapter one and vaguely familiar names and situations were being dealt with rapidly and with no introduction. I was forced to do a quick skim through Divergent before I could proceed. I didn't like this at all, and I think this sort of beginning is definitely another sign of her immaturity as a writer.

Quick plot summary:
(also: minor plot spoiler if you haven't read book one)

Tris, Tobias, and a handful of other Dauntless and Abnegation have survived the simulation uprising. As they are unable to return to Dauntless headquarters, they seek medical attention and temporary refuge from the Amity sector. They are offered sanctuary, but not for long. Tris and Tobias know that they must break out and find out as much as they can about the Divergent and why they are being targeted. Meanwhile, Tris overhears Marcus telling Johanna, unofficial leader of Amity, that there is a great secret that was being stored by those in Abnegation, but he cannot reveal what it is.

When an unexpected raid of traitor Dauntless break into Amity, those who are willing to fight escape the compound and spend a night among the Factionless, where Tobias is confronted by an unexpected ghost from his past. They quickly leave and seek alliances with the Candor faction, where Tris learns what she must do in order to save the rest of her society.

I don't know what it is about trilogies and series, but it seems like there has to be at least one book of the bunch that a little bit sucks. This book isn't awful. It isn't great, either, though. A large part of the book is spent telling you that there is information to be found, but they keep not finding it. There is a lot of walking, a la The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and Roth keeps introducing characters without really giving them enough qualities for the reader to get a firm grasp. And while the book seems to move quite quickly - everywhere people move they are running or punching or frantically searching for something, by page 400 you realize that nothing has actually happened and you've still got 100 pages to go.

I will say this for Insurgent, though: the ending is definitely gripping. Up until the last two pages, I was thinking that I probably wouldn't give book 3 a whirl, and then WHAM! Roth broke out her first interesting twist of the book, and now I must find out what happens.

Insurgent isn't bad. It definitely fulfills the seemingly necessary YA elements of unconsummated yet passionate young love, a young protagonist who is the intellectual equal - indeed, superior in some cases - to her adult companions, and a lot of not-particularly-violent fighting. I think Divergent is definitely better than this book, and I can only hope that book 3 is best of the batch.


Number of books read in 2012: 6
Current TV series: Firefly
Today's nail colour: L'Oreal's "Penthouse Pink"


France said…
This book is solid. It picks up right where the last left off. The characters don't seem different (which sometimes happens between book 1 and 2 of a series, almost like the author regrets the direction they took a character in book one). The most noticeable thing about this book is that it is non-stop action. It really is gripping and intense. Even when Tris is not doing anything, I never get the sense that she is calm. Tris does not idol well. And that makes you want to read, straight through. It was hard to put down, even when the story slowed down.
I know Veronica Roth chose not to include any re-capping in this book... which for someone like me, who can't even remember what she had for lunch, isn't the best approach. I think perhaps if I hadn't seen her blog post (the one where she recaps everything from Divergent) then I would have been just as confused as you starting this book. Anyway, great review! I was mostly impressed with this book but it's interesting to hear your thoughts. :)
Love SMS said…

Divergent was Veronica Roth's debut YA novel. But despite it being the first book she had ever written, she did a fantastic job! I thought: 'It can't get any better than this!', but boy, was I wrong! Insurgent exceeded ALL my expectations!

The story continues right where Divergent left off. Dauntless and Abnegation are in shambles. Conflicting ideologies among the factions have led them to the brink of war. Sides have to be chosen, shocking secrets will emerge as will betrayals. The choices Tris makes could put not just her life on the line, but the lives of the people she loves.

In my opinion, the book was written really well. Veronica's style of writing is simple, almost conversational, but now and then there comes a hauntingly poignant statement which etches itself onto your mind permanently. These little statements make a massive impact on the book and they just take her style of writing up a notch. The plot was excellent, well executed with enough twists and turns to leave me reeling. By the end of the book, I had goosebumps and a feeling of 'OH-MY-GOD-I-NEED-THE-NEXT-BOOK-RIGHT-NOW!!!!!' It ends with a cliffhanger which just upped the stakes if you ask me.

I liked the fact that Veronica didn't introduce too many new characters here. The focus was mainly on Tris And Four(Tobias). Their relationship grows as their characters mature. It's fascinating to watch them because they complement one another perfectly, yet they give each other enough space to be their own person. Tris has got to be one of the strongest leading female characters in YA-Dystopian history. Her character has been shaped wonderfully in this this book, and I can;t wait to see more of her in the third book of this series.

All in all, I would say that fans of The Hunger Games or Young Adult books in general will adore this series. It is an exhilarating read and a definite favourite on my bookshelf. Enjoy! :)

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