One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love. Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.
I was really excited to read this book. I have been looking forward to it since I read the first book in this series (Divergent) earlier this year. For the most part Insurgent proved to be worth the wait and I was not disappointed.
Insurgent picks up exactly where Divergent ended. There is no time gap between them, so if you haven’t read Divergent in a while I strongly suggest you re-read it before tackling Insurgent as there is little to no recap along the way.
From the outset it is pretty clear that Insurgent is more violent, dark and edgy than Divergent was. Everything is tougher, the scenes are harder and the brutality even more vile. Also, from the word go it is clear that the characters we all know and love from the first book, Tris and Four/Tobias (although he will always be Four to me) will not have it easy.
Tris is struggling from the fallout from the first book. She seems tougher, braver and more adult but she also seems broken. This leads her to do things that I found to be out of character that not only puts herself, but at times others at risk. I am not sure I liked the change in her completely. I liked that she was more sassy, funny and confident but also found her to be a little stroppy and in a way self-centred. She kept trying to sacrifice herself for others but I always got the feeling it was because she though herself maybe more important than others, as though she was the only one who could fix things. This conflict in her leads her to make a terrible mistake about half way through the book that I struggled, for a while, to forgive her for (she came around in the end and so all is forgiven.)
I had forgotten how devastating Four is. He is, beyond a doubt, one of my favourite male characters. I simply adore him. In parts of this he seemed more attractive and charming than in Divergent. (Which hardly seems possible, I know) His feelings for Tris are something to behold and would make even the strongest heart flutter. Yet, like Tris something seemed to go a little wrong somewhere and from the half-way point I (and I am devastated to say this) found myself liking him a little less. He also got a little stroppy and seemed to lose a lot of his rational thinking and decision-making. He became more driven and refused to listen to others (mostly Tris’s) opinions. I found him to be irrational sometimes and it really didn’t suit him.
I have to take my hat off to Veronica Roth. She effortlessly manages to weave violent dystopian fiction with breath-taking romance together, something most authors struggle to do. Tris and Four’s relationship definitely steps up in intensity at the beginning of the book. There is more sexual tension than you could shake a stick at. I loved that no matter what happened, no matter how bad things got they still had each other…but then that all seemed to go wrong to. They spent a lot of the book not talking to each other, not trusting each other, deceiving each other or arguing. I expected some drama between them but not the extent that there was, it was all a little too much for me and after a hundred pages of it I wanted my windswept, against the odds romance back.
At times, with all the drama, this book felt a little heavy but Roth knew exactly when to inject a little humour to lighten the mood. Some of Four’s one liners and moments in this book made me laugh. It was nice to have a few lighter moments. One character that really stood out in this book was Peter. I felt literal hatred for him in Divergent, but found him impossible to dislike in this book. You get to know him a little better and although he is a villain and to be frank, a little shit, I found him extremely endearing. Some of his moments were also funny, especially is he was anywhere near Four.
Yet again, Veronica Roth has proven what a talented author she is with Insurgent. I felt so many different emotions whilst reading it, had so many conflicting feelings. It was extremely easy to get into this book which helped. I think the first paragraph had me hook, line and sinker. The first third was engaging and full of action. Unfortunately, that didn’t last. For me the middle dragged a bit and I found myself losing a little interest. I think this is mainly because so much of it was focused on the drama between Tris and Four. I have always struggled with romantic angst; it literally makes me feel sick. (I just want everything to be happy where romance is concerned.) The last third picks up again and I was effortlessly drawn back into the story. Tris seems to gain a lot of her former self back in this section of the book to which really helped.
I did find this book to be a little exhausting. It is quite long and a lot happens in it. There is a lot of moving around from faction to faction and a lot of people popping up all over the place, I found myself getting a little lost in parts. I couldn’t keep up with who people were and what they were doing. I kept on confusing two of the faction leaders and that lead to me completely misunderstanding some of the things that happened later on in the book.
Insurgent certainly ends with a bang. It has a great cliff-hanger ending that makes you wish you could time travel just to get your hands on the next book. I think the ending is something the fans will talk about endlessly. I have my own theory about what is going on, but I won’t say anything because it would mean giving away some spoilers (although, the comments are free for all so if you want to discuss theories then you know where to find me.)
Despite certain problems I had with the book in the end I loved it. It is equal to, and in some parts better than the first. This is dystopian and YA writing at a high level and it will most certainly end up being one of my favourite books of the year.
I will wait with bated breath for book number 3 in this series, and in the mean time I might go and see if I can find a Four of my own because let’s face it, we could all do with a little Four in our life’s.
Published May 1st 2012 by HarperCollins Children's Books. A free copy was provided for review. Image courtesy of Goodreads
Review by Kate Phillips
Review by Kate Phillips