Insurgent - Veronica Roth 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! “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? 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. 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. So, the outside world set up an experiment (I guess) to try to bring morality back into their world by creating Five Factions based on Five Virtues? How does that work? What kind of world is the outside world? How long ago was it? Why Chicago? Are they monitoring the people? Are there any people outside of Chicago? Are there other test beds for other civilizations? When in history have we EVER had a society built like this? Why is this such a secret?

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?)

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Very mild.
Four and Tris share several intimate scenes.
Tris is captured and tortured. She is almost killed. There is quite a bit of shooting and running, and several characters die in the course of the novel. Nothing is too graphic, but blood is occasionally mentioned.