Insurgent – Veronica Roth
In the second installment of the “Divergent” series, Tris finds herself in the midst of an uncertain revolution in which all sides clamor to take the lead. Tris and her companions wander around between factions, trying to seek shelter and build alliances for overcoming the threat of the Erudite. They rest and recover with Amity, network with the factionless and Abnegation, and seek information from Candor. Tris also learns about the Erudite when she turns herself over in an attempt to save others. As a result, Tris becomes familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of each faction, but she feels less and less certain about who to trust and what the end goals of the revolution really are or should be. In the end, she follows the example of her parents, who fought for freedom of information, and Tris sets out with the most unlikely allies to recover and release the information that will change the lives of everyone, regardless of their faction loyalties.
“Insurgent” is a perfect continuation of “Divergent” because every chapter is quick to read and ends with some kind of cliffhanger, making it ridiculously hard to put this book down. Roth moves the story along swiftly by writing completely unexpected plot twists, which are usually the cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, though some show up in the middle of chapters as well. Sometimes the cliffhangers effectively prompt continued reading, sometimes they are heavily foreshadowed (and therefore somewhat less unexpected), and sometimes they lack the full enthusiasm of a cliffhanger. Despite the variation in quality, the cliffhangers and pace of reading make “Insurgent” an exciting book. Roth also spends more time focusing on the differences between each faction, which develops the individual characters, the whole society constructed by the factions, and the storyline of the series. Through Tris, Roth shows how the traits of each faction can be both a strength and a weakness, and how the differences combine (or not) to (de)construct a society. She evaluates these traits without passing judgment, showing that good and evil are part of human nature and the social condition. “Insurgent” offers a bit more depth, a bit more development, and just as much compulsion for reading.
Overall, I enjoyed “Insurgent” a bit more than “Divergent.” “Divergent” is the beginning of the series, and requires introductions to characters and storylines. “Insurgent” offers more depth and development, adding complexity to the story. It also has slightly less violence and slightly more cooperation, which I appreciate greatly. I also felt that “Insurgent” provided more moments for critical thought and reflection by pointing out all the ways the characters and factions are both good and bad, as well as the plot twists of the overarching goals of revolution, and who to trust and why. Excellent considerations for how to relate to people, how to build alliances, and how to establish trust and integrity. Again, I find myself pleasantly surprised by Roth’s ability to do something different with young adult dystopian novels, and I also find myself eager to read the last book of the series.