Tuesday, March 19, 2013

#CBR5 Review #12: Insurgent by Veronica Roth


Insurgent is the second novel in the “Divergent” series by Veronica Roth. And I hear that Divergent is soon to be adapted into a film? Well that might be interesting… In my head I sort of pictured the protagonist, Tris, to be just like Taissa Farmiga in “American Horror Story”, which (in my opinion) would be some swell casting. But then, for some reason I totally disregarded the fact that Four is 18 and imagined him as an only slightly-younger, somewhat beefier, Sherlock-y Benedict Cumberbatch. The character’s inevitable relationship made this a tad inappropriate, depending on how you see things (and no, I don’t consider that a spoiler, as you can see their relationship coming from a mile away). That being said, this series is made for young adults, and as such, there is inclined to be some not-strictly-necessary romantic aspect. If you are within that target demographic, however, you would absolutely love this book. If not, you might get a little annoyed at some parts, though all in all it’s still quite an enjoyable read.

Here’s what Insurgent is all about (and if you haven’t read the first novel, Divergent, yet, and don’t want anything to be spoiled for you, I’d suggest turning back now):

Insurgent follows Tris, Four, and other members of the different factions in the aftermath of the simulation-induced attack on the Abnegation sector of the city at the end of the last novel (wow, if I hadn’t just read this book I would have no idea what that sentence was even trying to get at). Tris is quite shaken by everything that has occurred, considering how when we last saw her she had just witnessed her parents die, and shot one of her friends in the head. Despite this, however, she wants nothing more than to know the truth about why the Erudite leaders chose to set the Dauntless soldiers upon her peaceful old section of the city.

Throughout the course of the novel, we follow Tris and those who accompany her (at times) as they essentially jump from faction-to-faction, and even spend time with the factionless members of society, trying to learn more about the situation at hand, and deciding where exactly is safe for them to stay while things both settle and threaten to detonate once more. Within all this moving around, plans are made regarding how to deal with Erudite, the factionless are seen starting to band together, the ties of families are tested, more and more Divergent members of society are becoming recognized, and Tris and Four fight about the secrets that they are keeping from one another, all while Tris keeps putting herself into (somewhat needlessly) dangerous and reckless situations.

What’s good about Insurgent is that it constantly keeps you in the dark, with only brief glimpses as to what the hidden truths in the strange city are. Because of this secrecy, you want to keep flipping the pages to find out what exactly is going on. The first-person narrative on the part of Tris also aids this, as she desperately tries to grab hold of the fleeting facts around her to figure everything out: she wants to know, so we want to know. The series itself is also quite creative in its setup of the city and the different lives that are seen within each of the distinct factions; it is especially enjoyable to get a taste of what life is like within each of the different compounds as the characters move between them throughout the course of this novel, which we didn’t really get in the first one. Furthermore, some of the secondary characters that were only there as tools for brief moments in Divergent became more complex and developed in Insurgent, and thereby more effective (I’m talking, Uriah, Marcus, and even Tris’ brother, Caleb, who I can’t help but picture as Colin Morgan in “Merlin” for some unknown reason).

Despite all these good points, however, there were some definite flaws that I found while reading this novel, which sometimes made me exhausted or roll my eyes. Some of this is due to the fact that I found Insurgent to lack some of the spark that was in the first novel of the series. What made Divergent so strong was the strength that Tris found in herself after suppressing it for so long, and yet in this one, Tris starts to fall apart and, dare I say it, become a little whiny. That’s not to say that Tris doesn’t pull through when she really needs to, but it takes a lot of push for that to happen. I know, she just went through some serious trauma and is likely to space out a bit because of this, but much like how Mockingjay fell short of the other books in “The Hunger Games” series, when your greatest asset is the strength and action of your young heroine, it is probably a bad idea to let all the activity of your subsequent novels to occur around her, while she spends a lot of the time passed-out or sleeping (I mean honestly, Katniss, can’t you stay awake for more than a couple of hours at a time any more?). Tris also starts to rely too heavily on Four to know what to do and to keep her together, and I do realize that this is a young-adult novel and so there is likely to be some naive young-love involved, but I started to get a little tired of the two of them after a while; the situation around them is incredibly tense, and so they start to bicker and won’t listen to one another, yet Tris continues to yearn for Four at basically every turn, and I’m sorry, but I get bored of hearing about the “warm-ache” that you feel whenever you kiss him, darling.

At the end of the day, however, I recognize that I am a bit older than the target-demographic for this series, so the “you think you are such a wallflower, but really you are the most special of the snowflakes, and this totally special guy has nothing but eyes for you” stuff rolls right off of me. Besides that, however, I still liked this book, and am inclined to read the next (and last?) one of the series, because of the skill with which Veronica Roth leaves cliffhangers and questions at every turn. If nothing else, Insurgent knows how to keep you flipping, and has some pretty interesting ideas and thoughts presented throughout. I’d especially recommend reading it if you like novels with strong young girls making choices for themselves and learning all there is to know about all their different dimensions.

[Be sure to check out the Cannonball Read 5 Group Blog for more reviews]

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