John Tippie

After being pleasantly surprised by the film version of Divergent, I had somewhat high hopes for Insurgent, the second book in Veronica Roth’s post-apocalyptic young adult series. While I certainly had a number of issues with the first novel, they weren’t things that a good editor couldn’t fix. Sadly though, none of them were addressed, and I found the sequel to be just as maddening at times as the book that preceded it.

First of all, my problems with Tris herself and her relationship with Four, aka Tobias, continued, and may have actually gotten worse. I have never been in a war zone and can’t even begin to imagine how I would react in some of the scenarios that Roth’s protagonist finds herself in, but I have to agree with the other characters who found Tris to be “erratic.” She seemed to do things without really thinking them through, or about how her decisions would affect the people around her. Yes, she did seem to be extremely conflicted about everything – which I understand – but all of the mental back-and-forth was once again exhausting.

I also really didn’t like Tris’s budding romance with Four. Reading through their scenes together, it felt like Roth was trying to make them have this epic love story, but there is so much anger, fear, and betrayal between them that I found myself being a fuddy duddy and thinking: “What on earth is this telling young girls about relationships?!” While I certainly know that passionate relationships can have really high highs and really low lows (been there, done that!), I just don’t think good, healthy relationships should be that difficult.

The other issues I had with Insurgent were more focused on time and location. I never had a good sense when reading the book of exactly how much time had passed between the simulation that closed out Divergent, and all of the different battles that came next. Occasionally Tris would indicate that a week or a few days had passed, but other than that, I have no sense of how quickly things are moving in the fictional world Roth has created.

Compounding this confusion about time was just trying to figure out where everything was located in relation to everything else. Some times the faction headquarters seemed to be far apart and at other points in the story they seemed to be right on top of each other. Maybe it’s easier to understand if you’re from Chicago, where the story is set, but I had a really hard time picturing everything in my head and keeping things straight.

Though Insurgent was certainly not what I was expecting, the one thing I will give Roth, however, is the way the story ends. I’m not going to reveal any spoilers, but the conclusion included a plot twist that I didn’t see coming – one that prompted me to immediately download Allegiant, the third book in the series, the next morning.

So far the series has left me with mixed emotions – I don’t necessarily like the books themselves, but I can’t quite put them down either. I’m just not sure if that’s because I’m hooked to the story, or if it’s because I’m hoping that next time, it will be better.

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Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. I had a lot of the same problems with this book you did, especially when it comes to the passage of time. In general I really liked the first two (especially the first). However I had a TON of “Maybe I’m too old to be reading this” moments in Allegiant when I just wanted them to grow up a bit… (I also thought “What is this saying to teenagers” a few times so yeah…I’m right there with you.)
    Re: the City, I live in downtown Chicago and I think things are fairly accurate although I’m not totally sure where Dauntless is supposed to be?? But Erudite and Candor are def in “the Loop” within walking distance (about a mile) from each other. I’ll admit I have spent a lot of time walking around thinking about it… I very much want someone to rig a zipline to the top of the Hancock!

    Reply
    • LilaJune – Thank you for letting me know that I’m not the only one! When I went to pull a cover image for the post, I saw all of these positive reviews of the book and thought, “Well maybe it’s just me?” I know that I’m not really the YA demographic these books are trying to reach, but still! As for the city, thanks for the tips! Though I was born in Illinois, it’s been a good 20 years since I’ve been to Chicago so a lot of the descriptions sail completely over my head. I guess I’ll just have to visit soon and see if I can figure out where all of these things are supposed to be! That said, I am definitely familiar with the Hancock building and completely agree with you. If they ever set up a zipline, I’m there!

      Reply

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