Thursday, May 3, 2012

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Divergent #2)

Title: Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #2
Description (courtesy of Goodreads): 

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.


In Insurgent, Veronica Roth delivers an out of the park home run as we pick up right where Divergent left off. My decision to listen to the audio version of Divergent the day before Insurgent's release was prompted by this post at Ms. Roth's blog.  I had intended to just check out the recap and go on my merry way but the memory of the awesomeness that was Divergent came flooding back and I knew I had to read it again.


I was rewarded for my diligence by not being disoriented when we pick back up on a train with Tris and Tobias.  I think the author absolutely made the right decision not to take time out for a history of all that came before because it would have slowed down the breakneck pacing she's established in the first book and continued here. Insurgent, like Divergent before it, is a literary roller coaster ride.


My non-spoilery review of Insurgent is: Drop what you're doing and read this book.  You haven't read Divergent yet? Read that first, then read Insurgent.

Having said that, I don't really feel I can talk about the book without discussing spoilers, so consider yourselves warned.  If you haven't read or haven't finished the book, what could you possibly be doing here?


Spoilery Thoughts:




1)As I mentioned above, I loved that we picked up with Tris and Tobias on the train to Amity without so much as an introduction.  This helped maintain the momentum built in the previous book, and I was quite impressed at the way it was sustained throughout the entire book.

2)I think Ms. Roth has an expert's understanding of how to create, maintain, and resolve tension.  Given where Tris' relationship with Tobias ended in Divergent, their being at odds with each other for much of this book, keeping secrets and what not, she did an excellent job of keeping their relationship interesting for the reader.  I began to get a feeling for how much each needs the other to be whole and I am hoping that, given where Insurgent ended, they proceed from that moment as a complex hero, like Frodo & Sam in The Lord of the Rings.  They would be much more effective.

3)I had a little trouble stomaching Tris in this book when she goes off to martyr herself.  From what I've seen on Twitter, I'm not alone.  However, I still think that Ms. Roth did a good job of depicting a young character who is grieving. Although, my gut reaction to Tris' realization that her death would not validate the deaths of Will and her parents was that it was not fairly earned.  It seemed epiphanic to me and I would have liked more to justify that conclusion when she reached it.  I thought she was too stewed in her own self image issues to have realized she wants to live just as her life is about to be extinguished.

Also, She walked into the Lion's Den with (as far as we can tell) no plan other than surrendering herself to stop more murders.  I wouldn't have taken Jeanine at her word so I thought that was incredibly foolish of her.  Although, Harry took Voldemort at his word in a similar scene in Deathly Hallows, but Voldemort did die shortly thereafter.  Jeanine took a bit longer.


Having said that, even though I thought Tris was a bitter pill to swallow for a lot of the book, I never questioned her as a character.  I saw more of myself in her than I was comfortable with as she placed unbelievable expectations on herself, which bonded me to her in spite of the fact that I wanted to strangle her as she all but begged for death.


4)I loved seeing Amity, particularly the way they discuss things and then eventually come to an agreement.  I, like Tobias, thought that was fascinating.  I would have liked to have spent some more time in the scene where the Dauntless traitors and the Erudite come looking for the Divergent before the fight breaks out.  I thought that would have been a good opportunity to escalate the tension.


5)I'm glad that the book ended on a cliffhanger with the big reveal at the end so that it can ride all the momentum of the first and second books into the final chapter of this trilogy.
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