Veronica Roth – Insurgent

Yaaaay! It’s here. After a couple of really, really bad YA books, I was looking forward to this so much.

INSURGENT
by Veronica Roth

published: Haper Collins, 1st May 2012
ISBN: 006211445X
pages: 544
copy: ebook
series: Insurgent #2

my rating: 6,5/10

first sentence: I wake with his name in my mouth.

This review contains massive spoilers for Divergent, the first volume in the trilogy.

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.

Insurgent picks up exactly where Divergent left the readers. Unlike its predecessor, this volume takes quite a bit of time to get started properly. The first half is concerned mostly with setting up characters, moving them around a lot between factions – and yes, we do get to see some of the other factions’ headquarters and way of life. But I think I speak for most of us when I say, what we have really been waiting for is more focus on the world-building aspect, to find out, why this society is the way it is and most of all: What’s outside the fence?

Let me say that not all of these questions get answered in this book and that is partially why it suffers from middle-part-of-a-trilogy-specific problems. The story arc is not very well developed, gets lost on the way only to resurface with a boom at the end.

Veronica Roth’s style is still very accessible and fast-paced but she puts a lot more focus on Tris’ character here. That was a pleasant surprise for me and we get to see new depths in Beatrice’s personality. After what happened in Divergent, it is only logical that she’s not the person she was before. For a young adult novel, I thought this was very well done and while she tends to drift off to a really dark place at times, I always felt her actions and feelings were believable and Tris stays as good a narrator as she was in the first book.

Maybe I just want it all, but because of Tris’ development, a lot of other characters suffered. Names are introduced (or we’re reminded of minor characters from book 1) but I couldn’t realy put a face or character to them. This made the inevitable deaths of certain people less dramatic than the author may have intended. Tobias especially felt absent throughout most of the book even though he was phyically there. After making us all fall for him in Divergent, seeing so little of him and his interactions with Tris, was a bit disappointing.

All things considered, it was the lack of plot, of substance, that left me not quite so eager for book 3. A lot of the times I felt that Roth was just filling scenes with unnecessary action. It may be well written and keeping you on the edge – and trust me, starting at about halfway through this book, you won’t want to put it away – but where in the first novel, everything felt fleshed out and full, this one felt like we were just sightseeing in this strange future Chicago.

Hard-boiled fans may consider waiting with this volume until the trilogy is finished. Because Insurgent ends with a huge cliffhanger. Trust me, Divergent was well rounded in comparison and even though its ending was also rather open I felt like I got some closure. In book 2, the scene just gets interrupted and leaves you hanging in the air. This said, now that some questions were answered and a few new ones popped up, I look forward to finding out how Tris and Tobias’ story ends, if not quite as eager as before.

THE GOOD: After slowish beginning very fast-paced, great character development for Tris, some questions answered.
THE BAD: Not as good as book 1 (sorry, you can’t help but compare), slow to begin and decidedly too little Tobias.
THE VERDICT: If you liked Divergent, you’ll like this one too. It’s the second part of a trilogy, let’s not judge too harshly.

RATING: 6,5/10  Quite good read

The Divergent Trilogy:

  1. Divergent (German review)
  2. Insurgent
  3. untitled
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