Book Review: Insurgent

Insurgent is book 2 of the Veronica Roth authored Divergent series. It starts with our heroine Tris and boyfriend Four going to the faction Amity outside the gates of the city for refuge as well as to attempt to enlist their help in their fight against the control-hungry Erudite faction.

There is a significant pace difference with the 2nd book than the 1st. With the background established, each faction adequately defined, Roth focuses the story on the heart of the issue – is free will really worth it? Is it worth the body count? The emotional drama? The deceptive relationships? The forgiveness? The pain? The moral dilemmas?

Insurgent pushes this issue into deeper waters, exploring the tangled road of the ethic ‘the ends justify the means’ and which value is most valued – loyalty, integrity, or bravery? These issues are not just explored in the overarching story but also in the microcosm of the relationship between Tris and Four. They find themselves wanting the same end goal but achieving it in very different ways. They each at different times hold one value more importantly than another, almost always putting them at odds with each other at every turn. Roth does an excellent job of letting these scenes play out, not solving the tension, not painting either completely as a villain or a hero. It’s skillful writing that puts the reader in the middle of the tension without resolving it for them.

We knew after Divergent that there were a couple of plot lines that had to be resolved. Four’s relationship with his dad. Tris’s guilt over killing Will. Do the other factions have Divergents? What role – if any – will the other factions play?

On top those plot lines, Roth drops some major surprises and plot turns throughout the entire book. MAJOR. There were four instances in the first act of the book that you won’t see coming at all and the crazy thing about them all is that they work. . All of them work to advance the story. That’s quite a feat.

The only annoying aspect of the book – and this was true of the first book as well – is the romance side of Tris and Four. It’s during these moments that I remember that this was written for a young adult/young teen audience. It shows. I understand some of this is necessary as this relationship acts a literary device to explore and debate the issues in a way that creates tension and makes the reader realize that not every is so black an white. Most of these scenes are awkward which probably accurately reflects the reality of most romantic relationships of people that age. It’s not a major distraction at all.

So far, I’ve been very impressed with the story and look forward to the final book.


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