Insurgent is the follow-up to one of last year’s biggest debut novels in YA dystopian fiction: Divergent. I loved Divergent. (You can read my Burn Bright review here) In fact, I loved it so much I listed it as one of my top 5 reads for 2011. It came from nowhere and blew me away. A gutsy female lead, a subtle romance with no gross-out factor and world that was built with clear lines and rules – so easy to get lost in. But Insurgent? Well, it left me kinda bewildered, confused to how I felt.
Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off. For this reason, please don’t start with book two. Roth’s world is complex, built around five factions, or groups within society. There’s the Dauntless – the brave (and often reckless) who provide safety, Amity – who are peaceful at all costs. They provide society with counsellors, they are the caretakers of society. Then there’s Abnegation who are completely selfless. They fulfil the need for selfless leaders. Candor value truth above all else, providing trustworthy leaders. Finally, there’s Erudite, who are dedicated to intelligence and learning. Sounds pretty organised, huh? Well, it is. Until the goings-on of Divergent (which I’m not going to spoil here – because you need to read it!)
What I will say is that Divergent ended in a pretty dramatic way. Society, so organised and practical on one level collapsed into chaos. Lead character, Tris (also known as Beatrice) found herself in a situation where she had to make split-second choices to save her own life. In Insurgent, she’s paying the price for those choices. She’s being swallowed by guilt and grief, which has a huge impact on the way she responds to people and situations. Tris is an awesome, multi-faceted character but here she kind of loses some of the ‘oomph’ that made her so strong in the last book. She’s done some things she regrets, and while we don’t expect her to just ‘get over it’, she’s become weak and self-loathing. Veronica Roth has made this transition in Tris’s nature believable and heartfelt, but to be honest, it just got a little tired after a while. I wanted to slap her, tell her to “get the hell on with it, stop trying to redeem yourself through stupid, desperate actions.”
But see, here’s the thing. I think Veronica Roth wanted us, the reader, to feel like this – and why I think I finished the story confused as to how I felt. Both Tris and Four (her waaay too hot love interest from Divergent) have been living a war. There’s loads of death and destruction in both books. No character is safe. They’ve been lied to, betrayed – oh, the betrayal! – injured and been the ones to injure, betray and kill others. They haven’t always done it for the right reasons, either. In the real world, both of them would be diagnosed as having some kind of post traumatic stress disorder. And that’s where Insurgent comes into its own. It doesn’t gloss over the terrible, nasty things that would happen in a world where control of others is the ultimate goal. It doesn’t pretend that lives and personalities aren’t changed forever. That’s how we grow as people. We’re the product of our experiences. Insurgent doesn’t dismiss the bad, it’s blunt and to the point. And, if you can forgive Tris and Four a little time to feel sorry for themselves – then Insurgent works.
Don’t get me wrong, Insurgent isn’t just about teenagers moping around. This book is full-on action, that Does. Not. Stop. once it gets going. Just like its predecessor, it’s fast, furious, more dirty than gritty and there’s some torture scenes that will make you squirm. The ‘love’ thing is still without eew factor; it’s believable and true. There are so many amazing twists in this story, you’ll be left trying to figure out which way is up. And then, there’s the cliff-hanger ending. The big reveal. Oh, my…
Book Three in the Divergent Trilogy is due for release in late 2013. And the movie? It’s currently in pre-production with Summit Entertainment.
Insurgent by Veronica Roth. Book #2 in the Divergent Trilogy.
Published by Harper Collins.
Paperback, 525 pages.
ISBN – 978-0-00-744292-8