Wow. Okay. I just finished Insurgent, the highly anticipated second book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, and I’ve got to say…it’s good. It’s really good. In my opinion, better than Divergent. Let me try to get my thoughts in order and explain why.
Insurgent picks up right where Divergent ends: on a train after the world has come crashing down around protagonist Tris Prior. The factions have turned on each other, and have taken massive casualties on all sides. Tris herself is reeling from the deaths of several close friends and family members, one of which was at her hands.
Tris and her boyfriend Tobias, a.k.a. “Four,” flee to the Amity headquarters, hoping to take refuge among the peaceful. But it quickly becomes clear that Amity and Dauntless don’t mix well.
As Tris, Four and their ragtag band of allies and enemies ping-pong around the different factions, a war breaks out. Sides are taken, lives are lost, and Tris and Four are right in the middle.
But Tris’ main concern isn’t with picking sides in the war. She just wants to know why they’re fighting a war in the first place.
Like Divergent, Insurgent is a mile-a-minute roller coaster of a book. There is tons of edge-of-your-seat action and suspense that starts near the beginning of the book and doesn’t stop until the last page.
However, Insurgent takes what Divergent had going for it and takes it to a new level. The stakes are higher, the action is grander, and the payoff is bigger. In the first book, we watch as Tris discovers her inner Dauntless. She performs a lot of stunts that, from my boring-adult perspective, are reckless and stupid, and serve no purpose. However, that recklessness and fearlessness actually comes in handy in Insurgent, where her goals are far loftier than just making it into a horribly superficial faction and impressing a boy.
The love story between Tris and Four is definitely present throughout the book, but it’s not the main focus. It develops around the big events surrounding the characters, and does not usurp them, which is good. They’re both concerned with saving the world, and both realize that’s more important than their relationship drama. A good realization to have, especially when you remember that they are still both teenagers.
There are a lot of deaths in Insurgent. It’s like Deathly Hallows and Mockingjay all over again. No one is safe. On the one hand, I hate when authors kill off good characters (especially when the nasty ones survive), because it hurts my little reader feelings. On the other hand, it really helps me not to become complacent as a reader when I realize that any of these characters could die at any time. There’s not that feeling of, “well, this situation kinda sucks, but you know it’ll be okay because there’s no way she’d kill off that character.” Nope, she would kill off that character. She proved it in Divergent, and it’s even more prevalent in Insurgent.
As for Tris herself, I liked her a lot more in this book. She grew up a lot. She made more mature decisions, causing me to see for the first time that she really may have some aptitude for Abnegation (something I didn’t see at all in the first book). She still did some stupid things and made some poor choices, but it was nice to generally see her acting more reasonably and not just out of spite or anger or recklessness.
I also liked that she spent the entire book dealing with the consequences of her actions in the first book. I was concerned she would recover too quickly from the events in Divergent, but she dealt with them throughout the book. She had psychological trauma and battle scars. It made her seem a lot more real.
And remember all those questions I had about Divergent? How a lot of things weren’t explained and didn’t make sense and I hoped they would be explained in the next book? Well, they were. I didn’t even realize that we were going to get answers to those questions until I read the last chapter, and then boom, there they were. Not 100%, because this is book #2 in a trilogy and having all my questions answered would be an unreasonable expectation. But they were addressed, the answers were heavily hinted at, and I now have little doubt that we’ll get much more satisfying explanations in book #3.
All in all, I thought Insurgent was a great follow-up to Divergent. It was more thrilling, more mature, and generally more satisfying. I’m excited to see where it goes in what is sure to be an explosive finale.
Content Guide: Contains violence and numerous deaths, and mild sexual content.