“Insurgent” Book Review

February 26, 2014

With Four, Caleb and Marcus, Tris heads to the Amity headquarters and devastated from having to watch a good majority of her family murdered and from murdering one of her best friends, Will, while he was under a simulation. Then they go to Candor. Then all the other factions. All this nothing while whining about Four…and occasionally mourning her parents and Will. This book mostly contained a lot of running around and fighting with no substance in between.

There is no romantic triangle, which is a fantastic and refreshing change from other trilogies (i.e. “The Hunger Games”.) But, that doesn’t mean the drama isn’t still there. In fact, it’s almost the whole book. Roth decided that it would be better to get to the universality of how couples overcome trials like trust. The endless fights and sulking were annoying and distracting and didn’t make the story any more interesting.At this point, I would have preferred a love triangle. It could have really used a revelation like the recent J.K. Rowling declaration that she regrets how Ron and Hermione ended up together. Obviously, Tris and Four are beyond the normal fights of a romantically involved couple. There seems to be no attraction beyond physical and they do not even seem to like each other.

Tris should not be the protagonist. She is more inconsistent, self-centered cruel thrill-seeking, less intelligent and important than she should be. Tris is not a Dauntless leader. She is not the Factionless leader. She is not a leader of the divergent. She’s supposed to be totally different from the other Dauntless, like in Divergent she states “I am no longer Abnegation or Dauntless. I am Divergent.” The book implies the characters believed Tris the only one smart enough to do the job yet she never truly shows that Erudite ability. Where is the divergence?

Four’s stance on the Dauntless was comforting and insightful. However, even after numerous explanations to Tris, he was apparently the only one who understood what Dauntless meant. Apart from that, he did not have a purpose but to follow Tris around and be annoying. Four’s mom appears to be the leader of the Factionless and the Factionless finally have more purpose, leading to a better understanding of oppression and revolution.

Peter, Johanna, Uriah and Marcus become more interesting.

The Five Factions make a lot less sense in this book, muddying some of the insights that could have been learned. First, the way they are described is stereotypical and somewhat stupid. The Erudite seriously wear glasses to accompany their sense of entitlement even if they do not need them like a bunch of hipsters and Amity sounds like a hippie cult. The inaction of Amity and Candor is confusing since half of the factions wiped out Abnegation. However, instead of portraying the more appropriate human nature of self-preservation, which is only lacking in Abnegation, she tries to show the bystander effect.

Marcus tells Tris they need to go do something that Four disagrees with on 14,943 levels but Tris does not stop to think that Marcus could be lying to her; after all, he isn’t Candor and has obviously lied about other stuff before. She believes him and does not tell Tobias or her Dauntless friends they’re going to be helping Marcus while everyone else is attacking the compound. Stop whining and just fucking tell them.

Later, they sneak in dressed like the Erudite. Including Tris, spent significant time there in captivity with dozens of people who saw her face in passing or experimented on her. Apparently Erudite clothes are just as good as Clark Kent glasses because not a soul recognizes her. Then, Jeanine’s office is guarded by a computer system. Tris tries to enter, but a voice conveniently announces her identity and takes her into a simulation she conveniently escapes. Roth just spent the past five chapters explaining Jeanine cannot control divergent with a simulation. Jeanine should have made it foolproof by programming the computer to spray confirmed Divergent with mustard gas or a death serum or bullets or something.

This book could have been a 15-page intro to Allegiant. This book so long because the words “I do not think that word means what you think it means”, “serum,” “simulation” and “traitor” are repeated ten thousand times in the book. Cut those words out, and you cut a few dozen pages at least. I wonder what word or phrase will appear in Allegiant about a thousand times.

I really appreciated that Insurgent picks up right where Divergent ended without the boring and pointless recaps in other trilogies. In taking Tris to the other compounds, Roth showed glimpses of what being in those factions truly means. I also appreciate trying to get to a better understanding of humanity in a new and entertaining way. Her subtle description of religious differences between factions was extremely interesting and should have been expanded more when Tris stumbles upon an Amity religious ceremony where they worship the God of Peace. When she was in Abnegation, she worshipped the God of Selflessness and in Dauntless was apparently atheist. Are they different aspects of the same god? It’s fascinating that it becomes increasingly difficult to choose sides and see which factions are villains and didn’t just make bad choices.

Though I was extremely disappointed when I read Insurgent and the cliffhanger was predictable; the story remains interesting enough to take me into reading the next book, Allegiant.