A few nights ago, I stayed up late to finish Insurgent, the second book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. To see my review of her first book click here, or scroll down to the next post. Insurgent starts right where Divergent leaves off, and Veronica Roth continues the action at the same break neck speed. At the end of the first book, the factions that Tris’s society has come to rely on began to turn on one another, and Tris and the rest of her Dauntless family are left to their own devices.
Much of the book is spent with them traveling from faction to faction, trying to figure out who to trust and who to believe after the Erudite community’s attempted take over of the Abnegation. There is also the introduction of some new characters, including the Factionless – those people who either failed to successfully chose or get into a faction, or those who have left the factionless life. Tris, having spent most of the first book in fear of a factionless life without community – begins to see these people, and her society as a whole in a different light.
Throughout the book, Tris is dealing with quite a heavy load in the aftermath of the battle that concludes the first book. She has lost both her parents, and is dealing with the fact that she shot one of her friends, a fellow Dauntless transfer. Things with Tobias, otherwise known as Four, are also a little rocky, as the two of them try to figure out how to navigate in this new unstable situation, what they want to get out of it, and how to fit each other into their plans, especially when their plans may differ. Trouble in paradise. I personally enjoyed this conflict as it made both characters more flushed out and realistic – no one’s relationship is perfect, and it gets tiring when relationships are shown in only one light through books, movies, etc.
What with all that Tris is going through, it would be easy to say that she becomes weak in the second book, but I would disagree with that statement. While she constantly talks about how she wants to curl up in a ball and pretend that her life isn’t happening, she never actually does that, even when it would be easy for her to do. She knows that she has people she wants to protect and goals she wants to accomplish, she just isn’t always sure what those goals are. Most importantly, she doesn’t want her parent’s deaths to be in vain.
Roth really gets inside Tris’s head in this book in terms of her fears, hopes, and desires. It can be easy when writing such character heavy scenes for the action to slow down, and it can be easy during action heavy scenes to step away from the characters and let the action play itself out, but Roth strikes a good balance between these two extremes in her writing. All of the action comes directly from the characters and the decisions that they make, and she makes much of the internal process within the character’s minds (mainly Tris) exciting and fast paced.
It was also interesting as a reader to see the different factions and the way the members of different factions lived their lives. The first book was primarily focused on the Abnegation and Dauntless, but in the second book we get to see Candor, Erudite and Amity as well. Roth also does a good job of defining these factions with their blunt, almost stereotypical traits, but then moving beyond that to show the complexities that lie within each faction.
For example, in the first book, Dauntless is seen as both reckless and fearless, but also brave and selfless. Similarly, in the second book Roth touches on ideas like what is the difference between the thirst for knowledge and the thirst for power, or how is being kind different than being passive and where is that line drawn? She really pushes both Tris and the reader to look beyond the stereotypes of each faction within the divided nature of the society.
Once again, Roth does a good job of writing a unique, exciting story while staying within the formula that a dystopian Young Adult novel provides. If I had planned this better I would have read these two books in October closer to when the third book, Allegiant, comes out. That way I could have finished Insurgent and just gone to the bookstore with the masses of people I am sure will be there to buy Roth’s third book. But it didn’t work out that way so now I am stuck waiting until October 22. Oh well.