Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: INSURGENT by Veronica Roth

*WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Divergent. If you haven't read the first book in the trilogy, come back when you have!*

Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #2

Why I read it: Back when Allegiant was getting ready to release, I picked this up and tried to read it. But it had been so long since I'd read Divergent that I couldn't remember anything that had happened or any of the character names other than Tris and Four. So after a SINGLE page, I put it back down. Now that the Insurgent movie is getting read to come out, I decided that it was time to finally read it. And bonus: since I've seen the Divergent movie, I actually remember things!

*Note: I am behind on reviews. I have two or three more reviews for books I read in January that I still need to write and post. But I finished this late last night, and I have a lot of thoughts. So I need to write this review while those thoughts are fresh in my mind!

I really loved Divergent. I read it fairly soon after publication, when I was firmly in a dystopian mood, thanks to The Hunger Games. That being said, I have been spoiled for this series. So unfortunately, that is always in the back of my mind as I continue reading this series.

Thoughts: I did not enjoy this second installment nearly as much as the first.

First, let's talk characters. Tris feels much weaker than she did in Divergent. Part of that is due to her grief for her parents, as well as her guilt for killing Will. But part of it is just poor decision-making, poor planning, or poor interactions with other people. For as long as this book is, it rarely feels like Tris is making an impact on the plot. Instead, she feels like a bystander who is along for the ride.

My biggest problem with Tris is her sudden aversion to guns. Just because she shot Will, she now can't stand to hold a gun. I get it (slightly), but I feel like this is a problem that should have been addressed within this book, by the end. Because there are so many points in this book where Tris is in more danger than necessary because she freezes when she touches a gun. This also led to a strange, editing mistake towards the end of the book. The following are direct quotes from the book.
  • Pg. 461: "I let go of the gun...Fernando offers me the stunner." Tris has been offered a gun, but she still can't stand to hold it, so she takes an alternative weapon instead. 
  • Pg. 464: "I point my gun at the lock, shield my face with an arm, and fire." So now, all of a sudden, not only does Tris have a gun out of nowhere, but she actually uses it. 
  • Pg. 471: "I scramble to my feet, draw my gun, and point it at her..." Still got that gun, threatening to use it against a person...
  • Pg. 476: "I realize I forgot the stunner in the empty classroom. I am unarmed again." So that gun that just magically appeared in the last ten pages (and your willingness to use it) has just disappeared again. Just in time for you to not actually be able to defend yourself. 
This bothered me way more than it should have. Sure, it's just an editing mistake, but it completely undermines an entire point of characterization for Tris for ten pages, then discards it. So strange. (Side note: it looks like Tris doesn't have as much as a problem with guns in the movie, which I am grateful for.)

Tobias is pretty wonderful, as usual. I appreciate how Tobias, unlike Tris, strives to be more like all of the factions, rather than just the ones his Divergent mind proved an aptitude for. Though he still has a way to go on the Amity front. What I appreciate even more is the fact that while he protective of Tris, he allows her to make her own decisions, even if they hurt him.

I think one of the most interesting, complex characters in the series is Peter. I don't want to get into details, to avoid spoilers for Insurgent, but I'm curious as to where his character will go in the final book.

The new characters are interesting. Jack Kang, Evelyn, and Johanna, make things happen in this book. Their decisions really spurn the action, even more so than Tris and Tobias.

Speaking of those actions...

This book feels like a lot of moving from place A to place B to place C to place D...and on. Our characters don't spend much time in one spot. Most of these moves feel necessary, if a touch exhausting. But it does tend to disrupt the flow of the book. In my mind, I can separate the parts of the book by where our main characters were; more like episodes of a TV show than a single book.

Without going into spoilers, I do think that the events of the last TWO pages of the book should have happened so much earlier. Or at least we could have gotten a few, more explicit hints or bits of foreshadowing. Because as it stands, I am confused and curious, but not clamoring to read the last book immediately.

If you loved Divergent, I still recommend you continue the series at this point. This book still presents some interesting ideas about the faction system and how it worked, and parts of the book still kept my pages turning. But overall, this was a letdown. At some point in the next few months, I will read Allegiant, so look forward to that review as well.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Tell me: have YOU read Insurgent? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

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