Overall Impression: A book with plenty of potential held down by teenage angst and middle book syndrome.
(To read my review of the first book in the series, Divergent, click here.)
I…..well….this book was…. *balloon deflates* …disappointing. 😦 I’ve been avoiding writing this review, it seems each time I open the tab I instantly find something better to do like staring at the wall or scrolling though social networking sites. It’s even making my essay look more appealing. After reading Divergent I was so amped up for the second installment of this series. I couldn’t get Tris’s action packed story out of my head and was excited to see what obstacles she would encounter next. With such a spectacular first novel it is hardly surprising that the second installment seemed lackluster. This does not mean that Insurgent was a bad book, but I did feel that it was muddled and rough around the edges.
Please note: For those of you that haven’t read the previous book Divergent, skip the blurb and first paragraph as they contains BIG spoilers about previous plots and characters from that book. The rest of the review is spoiler free. 🙂
I have done bad things. I can’t take them back, and they are part of who I am.
Tris has survived a brutal attack on her former home and family. But she has paid a terrible price. Wrecked by grief and guilt, she becomes ever more reckless as she struggles to accept her new future.
Yet if Tris wants to uncover the truth about her world, she must be stronger than ever…because more shocking choices and sacrifices lie ahead.
After the horror and confusion of the simulations attacks the Dauntless have been left scattered. Some have joined forces with the enemy Erudite, while others seek refuge with the remaining factions. Tris may have saved half of Abnegation with her acts of selflessness and bravery, but they have not left her unscarred. Still reeling from the death of her parents and shooting one of her closest friends Tris feels lost and cut off from those around her. Unsure where is safe, Tris, Four and a selection of remaining Dauntless and Abnegation seek protection with Amity, but they know that they cannot stay for long. Amity promote communication, neutrality and peace. War is coming and the Dauntless must fight back.
But how can Tris fight an army when she can barely even pick up a gun without shaking? When she has terrible nightmares wrought with grief? And most importantly how can she explain to Four the guilt that is tearing her up inside?
Tris must be ready, because her world is about to be turned upside down.
As I mentioned in my previous review, Roth has a way of sweeping you up and engulfing you into the story with her writing. Her style is simplistic, fast paced and easy to read. There are no overelaborate descriptions that hold up the plot and cause unneeded dithering and she has a knack for writing sentences so on point that you have to go back and read them over again. I wouldn’t say they are necessarily quotable because their power is tied specifically to the plot, but they certainly make you ponder and reevaluate your everyday way of thinking. Roth also injects an element of humour, the world she has created is quite dark full of power struggles and uncertainty, but this doesn’t stop her from adding in some fun sarcastic dialogue to lighten the mood. A snort or two may or may not have escaped me at points due to Roth’s blunt sense of humour; one in particular had me giggling to myself for hours because a character made a silly fumble similar to the kind I make! Having said that, I did feel sections of the writing in Insurgent were sketchy. Patches read awkwardly and could have been improved by taking out or switching only one word, and there were definitely some ridiculous similes floating about that made me frown in disbelief!
I felt the plot was the biggest downfall of Insurgent and it’s definitely a case of middle book syndrome. Divergent had a fierce plot with a clear intention, Roth knew the story she wanted to tell, stuck to it and told it with what felt like intent purpose and passion. Insurgent feels much more like a meander. It’s like Roth knew she had to get from point A to B but wasn’t quite sure how she wanted to get there. She had her basic bullet points – society collapses, lovers quarrel and Tris struggles to deal with the repercussions of her actions, and then proceeded to circle around them to excess. I found myself sighing, creasing my brow and making disgruntled mumbling sounds at Tris’s endless merry-go-round thoughts. At points I had to put the book down because I was getting annoyed. Even with the warring factions the biggest area of conflict was Tris’s internal moral struggle. Unfortunately instead of being an interesting commentary on war it resulted in an intensely annoying jumble of thoughts. It was a shame because there were some shocking twists and startling revelations which were overshadowed by my frustrations in between. The mystery of the fence did keep me turning the pages but not with the same vigour I had with Divergent. Especially as I had my own theory early on about the storylines implications.
Actually, I lied before. The biggest problem with Insurgent was not the plot, it was Tris. I don’t think I have ever gone from being so compelled by a character to completely disinterested this quickly before. Maybe it is a sign that I am getting older and wiser as I approach the end of my teenage years, but I really just wanted to slap Tris’s face for the majority of this book, preferably with my own personal copy of Insurgent. Why did she keep asking such obvious and stupid questions all the time? Did she not realise the answers were staring her in the face? I fully understand that Tris was suffering from the trauma of her past actions and rightly so, but the way Roth handled it drove me barmy.
It wasn’t so much Tris’s situation, that was a natural progression; we know everything always falls apart in book two so it can be patched up in book three and I have enjoyed similar storylines from other books. No, for me it was the character motivations and their justifications. (Oooh I made a rhymey.) Tris made stupid shortsighted decisions that were so obviously wrong and against everything we have come to respect her for as a character. I know reckless is in her DNA, but we’re talking massive idiocies. I had the horrible echoing feeling in my head that I was experiencing another Bella Swan, a character that wanted to throw her life away recklessly at every possible opportunity. In the first book Tris’s reckless behaviour made sense, but in this installment the logic is thin at best and constantly contradicting itself. Maybe Roth would justify Tris’s actions because she is Dauntless, but she’s also Divergent and has aptitude for Erudite so thinking about situations in a sane way shouldn’t have been difficult. It was like Roth completely lost her sense of the traits defining Tris. I do feel for the author, juggling a world defined by personality types cannot be easy and is riddled with problems, I wouldn’t want to attempt it. She’s got guts. I think the prevalent issues with Tris could be put down the authors lack of experience, she’s still a newbie to the author world after all.
I also became frustrated with Four, he had such a distinct personality originally which seemed to evaporate and be replaced with an easily manipulated, unfeeling push over of a person. And if there was one defining trait of Four in Divergent, it was that he took no s$@# from no one. The secondary characters became a glaring problem for me too when I realised I barely cared about any of them. Only Christina and Uriah were rounded enough to make an impression, you know something’s not right when the author starts killing off secondary characters and you feel no emotional loss!
Awwh man, I tried so hard to be all nice and positive in this review at the start and then it turned into a full on rant. :S I’m probably being harsh with this book but I can’t help it, I was so disappointed after the whirlwind of Divergent to discover Insurgent’s mediocre helpings. It wasn’t all bad, even with my gripes I still raced though this book and am interested in seeing how the story will conclude. Allegiant, the final installment of the series has fast become a controversial book and I look forward to seeing which side of the fence I will be on! I recommend this book to fans of Divergent (obviously) and those who enjoy YA dystopian that are willing to overlook a few growing pains within a trilogy. Suitable for 12+.
Now I’m left with one burning question, did Insurgent meet your expectations? 🙂
Writing Style: 4/5
Character Development: 3/5
Would I recommend this book? Yes.
Overall Impression: 3/5
Book Cover: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13480671-insurgent
Frustrated gif: http://giphy.com/search/frustrated/3