Insurgent by Veronica Roth Review 3/5

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, Insurgent by Veronica RothDivergent, 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.

What is your problem gif

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
Originality: 3/5
Entertainment: 3/5
Character Development: 3/5
Would I recommend this book? Yes.

Overall Impression: 3/5

Image Sources:
Book Cover:
Frustrated gif: 

32 thoughts on “Insurgent by Veronica Roth Review 3/5

  1. It is really disappointing when a book lets you down, but the second book often does this as you said. So, I think you should just put this behind you and move on to book 3. I really want to know what you think of the concepts tossed around in Allegiant. By that I mean when you find out the truth about their world and how it came to be. I found it incredibly thought provoking. In fact, I really need to read it again to more fully wrap my mind around it. I must say though that out of the three books Divergent will always remain my favourite :).

    • Thanks for understanding Cindy, this does often happen with the middle book a lot, more times than I can count and it doesn’t surprise me at all! An author must be under so much pressure from the publishers and themselves to write an amazing second novel and normally in a short time period too. Besides, nobody can be perfect all the time! I think you’re right, I hope I will enjoy Allegiant a lot more and if what you’ve said is anything to go by I am looking forward to understanding more about the world Roth has created and seeing how all the jigsaw pieces fit together. 🙂 I love a thought provoking book and Divergent will certainly be tough to beat!

      • So, when are you going to start Allegiant anyway?? I started the 10th Wicca book (Seeker) this morning and finished it tonight. It was really good, but it’s the one written from Hunter’s POV, and that was a little hard to get used to.

      • I think I will either ask for it for my birthday in a couple of months or wait until the paperback comes out. With all the other money I’ve spent on books recently I don’t feel like I can justify buying it straight away, lol! Plus I really want it in paperback so that it matches the other two books (who knew there was so much involved with being an obsessive bookworm?!) 🙂

        Yeah I think Seeker was actually my least favourite book in the series for similar reasons. It wasn’t bad but the story didn’t grip me quite as much. Plus, didn’t she add in a load of Frence or something? I remember feeling like I was being tested hahaa!

      • That’s so funny that you should say you want your books to match. I do the same thing, and I was looking at my Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon the other day and feeling annoyed because I have the first half of the series in paperback and the rest in hardcover. I may have to rectify that some day :).

        As for Seeker, I found it left me feeling anxious and frustrated all the time. I found it kind of fun testing my memory of high school French though LOL!

        I’m home reading today (yayyyy me) because we got snowed in again!! I haven’t left the house since Friday because of all the blowing snow we have had. They opened the highways for a bit yesterday, and now they are all closed again. Daniel was supposed to have 2 exams today, but they have been pushed forward to tomorrow now. I like having a day off work, but I’m really sick of winter!!

      • Haha nooooo way, I do that ALL the time. Gosh, it’s so frustrating isn’t it? I’m glad you understand. I love books in all shapes and sizes, I do, but I like my series books to be all the same shape and size, LOL. I have an annoying amount of series that are half in paperback half in hardback, and now they’ve started doing this annoying thing where newly released paperbacks are bigger than the mass produced paperbacks which just makes things even more confusing! I love the bigger copies, they really make the book look like it is trying to make a statement but it requires more brain power on my end.

        Oddly I know exactly what you mean, I felt the same way. We are scarily alike! Except for the French part, my French teacher was scary. 😛

        Woohooo that’s brilliant, you lucky thing. 😀 Well, maybe not all the horrible snow but the getting to stay in reading part. I hope you guys stay safe in your freezing cold weather and whoa, result for Daniel! A bonus day of cramming to fit in an extra bit of knowledge. I will send him positive good luck thoughts from the UK!

  2. ——————— SPOILERS —————————-
    Ahh it’s a shame you didn’t like Insurgent as much! I feel like with Tris, her reckless behaviour was a reaction to the fact that her parents had died and she felt numb, and her relationship with Four doesn’t really help as it gets more and more strained, I can imagine she felt a bit like she had no one left so she only has to answer to herself. Same with Four, I feel like maybe his personality didn’t change, but as the story is told through Tris’ pov, the way she saw him changed and that was communicated to the reader…if that makes sense? But I did read the book a while ago now! but I totally agree, book 1 he didn’t take anything lying down! that was part of his appeal 🙂 I know what you mean about reading YA as you’re getting older though, I feel as though I’m outgrowing certain types of books now, maybe it’s the same for you?
    Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Allegiant 🙂

    • It was, it was. Ohh well, here’s hoping I like the final installment better! Ohh yes, her reckless behaviour was definitely supposed to be down to the deaths and the world shattering revelations etc etc., I get that. If I went though half the stuff she did I would be a mess, lol! It was more the way Roth handled it that I didn’t like, it felt clumsy and awkward and the logic behind it disconnected in some areas and that’s what frustrated me. That’s a good point about Four though! I hadn’t considered that. 🙂 You’re right, although he was acting all kinds of odd it could be down to Tris’s interpretations of how he was feeling rather than his actual personality changing.
      Ahh I’m glad it’s not just me, I definitely find that certain characters frustrate me a lot more than they used to. But then I remember how turbulent being an early teen can be and I realise that I may be being a little harsh!

      Thank you, I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about Allegiant either, when I’ve read it and can finally discuss it with you! 😀

      • That’s weird…I don’t understand how it says ‘—— SPOILERS—-‘ at the top of my comment… definitely didn’t write that :/ But anyway…

        Yes definitely, let’s hope so 🙂

        Yeah I totally get ya, and hmm that’s always something that interests me with books and how you’re made to feel about certain characters. I thought maybe because she thought Four wasn’t supporting her, and that made her suspicious so it looked as though he was acting odd (?)

        And nope, it’s definitely not just you 🙂 at times I’m just like ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! ARE YOU SERIOUS?’ with certain characters. And I can’t stand whiny characters nowadays. Also, if you read a lot of the same types of books then the voices are bound to get a little frustrating/repetitive.

        Aw thank you! me too 😀

      • Ahaha sorry that was me, I hope you don’t mind! :S I do that when someone mentions spoilers in the comments. It’s because I have been caught out in the past a few times when reading a spoiler free review and I’ve looked down at the comments and seen something I didn’t want to! I don’t want to be responsible for giving something away when I have stated I won’t except for specific paragraphs, but at the same time I desperately want to know what others have thought in the comments about key plot points! So I’ve found adding a spoiler notice the best way to do it. 🙂 Plus I knew some specific bloggers that would be reading this review and likely commenting on it who hadn’t read the book yet so I thought I’d better add it.

        You could be right. 🙂 She was definitely suspicious of Four’s intentions towards her in this book, almost as if she was looking to cause problems so I think in that way it became a self fulfilling prophecy at times. As they always say, millions of people can read a book with the same title, but none of them actually read the same book, LOL.

        Ahahaa whiny, that is the perfect word! Yeah, I definitely feel it is important to switch it up with books, I love YA but at the same time I can’t read too much of it in a row or I can start getting annoyed, it’s the same with any genre for me really. 🙂

  3. I’ll be honest: I scrolled through your review for fear of any spoilers or words jumping out at me. I get the idea that it’s slightly disappointing compared to the first one though? I’m sure your review is MARVELLOUS, as always.

    MUST. READ. THESE. Can then come back and enjoy your reviews. They are on my TBB (To Be Bought) list!

    • No worries I completely understand. I’m uber paranoid about avoiding spoilers these days because sometimes people put them in with no warning at all and then a book is totally ruined! I have my own little motto to always keep reviews spoiler free unless specifically stated, but at the same time when reading a review about a subsequent book in a series you can still sometimes get hints and pick up vibes for where the story is going to go. If in doubt? Avoid, LOL! 🙂 Heheee thank you but you give me too much credit!

      I hope you enjoy this series when you get around to it and as always I will be curious to see what you think. 🙂

  4. I just started reading Insurgent a few days ago and I’m not very far into it, so I can’t really give a full opinion quite yet. But so far the beginning is definitely not as interesting as Divergent, and I totally get your frustration with Tris!! She’s very irritating in this book for some reason, which isn’t a good sign. 😦 Anyways, great review!!

    • Ohh, I hope you enjoy it! I know a lot of people that have enjoyed the second book more than me, so I hope that you are one of those people. 🙂 Yes I agree, it didn’t start with the same pace as Divergent and does take a little longer to get going. Don’t worry though, there is plenty of action in the second half!

      Ah! Thank goodness, I’m glad you understand what I’m talking about. 🙂 My issue was not with Tris’s – lets call it ptsd, it was very much to do with her voice and the way Roth handled her character.

      Awh, thank you so much, I’m so happy you liked it. 😀

  5. I had to skim this review again as I’ve yet to read the first book, but I really want to get to this series before the film comes out. I’ve often wanted to slap characters too :). Oh well, hopefully book three will be better for you.

    • No worries Emma I totally understand. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this series! Haha good to know it’s not just me that becomes over-invested in characters lives.

      I hope so too! Thanks for reading. 🙂

  6. I don’t think that Insurgent was the best of the three by any means, but I was satisfied with it. I think Tris’s character suffers from the same thing that Katniss did in the Hunger Games – having PTSD does not make for interesting character development and a lot of readers have a difficult time relating to that or understanding it because we have all this other information about the story and can clearly see what the character might not be able to. It’s definitely frustrating! However, it wouldn’t be very realistic to expect Tris to deal with everything she did in Divergent and remain the headstrong girl she was in Divergent – there is a necessary emotional reaction she has to have in Insurgent for the things that happen in Allegiant. I could go on and on about what I think it does for her character or where I think she’s at emotionally, but I won’t, lol.

    I enjoyed reading your review!

    • I’m glad to hear you thought that Insurgent was a satisfactory second installment. As I said I feel like I might have been a little harsh in my review because I was disappointed, I’ve certainly read worse books!
      I agree the formula was similar to The Hunger Games and rightly so, it would be unreasonable if we expected Tris to go though everything she did without it having an impact on her. As readers we would accept it, but including it in the story is much more realistic. I disagree that a character having PTSD is uninteresting however, I really enjoyed the commentary it allowed in The Hunger Games Trilogy and if it is done well I find it easy to relate and empathise with emotionally. I also feel it is important that books do acknowledge this aspect of a story when dealing with war/uprisings etc. As I said to Sophie above, my issue was with the way Roth handled it in her writing. I didn’t feel she dealt with it effectively so that it became an irritation rather than a heartbreaking piece of character development. I think it showed up the existing weaknesses in her writing. I hope that kind of makes sense! I’m glad this aspect of the storyline worked for you though, that was just my view. 🙂

      Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

      • Yes, I don’t think she handled it with as much grace as Collins did in the Hunger Games. Katniss’ development was much more emotionally charged than Tris.

        What I said about PTSD was really just a generalization, a lot of people REALLY hated Mockingjay because Katniss was so “whiny and annoying” when I felt like the poor girl was really suffering and that it made the story so much more interesting to me, like it did for you. 🙂

        I could probably go on and on about this subject, lol!

      • I completely agree with you! I adored Mockingjay so much, I thought it was perfect, all the earth shattering things that happened to Katniss were horrible, but I felt they were necessary and exactly like you said, it made the book more interesting and hard hitting. Unfortunately this didn’t work for me in Insurgent, but who knows, maybe I will have that impact for me in Allegiant. 🙂

        I know what you mean, I love a good debate over this kind of thing. Hey, maybe you should write a blog post about it. 😉

  7. argh, I need to pick Insurgent up and read it already! Though the dithering and rehashing will probably turn me off, I just really want to see what all the hubbub is about Allegiant! 🙂

    • You do! 🙂 Actually that was one thing in favour of Insurgent that hadn’t occurred to me, there isn’t much recapping at the start of the book which was a big bonus. Makes a nice change!

      Me too, I can’t wait to weigh in with my opinion.

  8. I completely agree! Urgh Insurgent was such a total let down after Divergent! Can you see now why, after 4 months after finishing Insurgent, I still have no desires to read Allegiant? It’s such a shame, but I just can’t read another full length novel of Tris being a whiny bitch! Oh well.
    Also, I loved the use of the Zooey D gif! I do love a good gif. A great review as always! Sometimes ranty is better 😉

    • Phew thank goodness! Yet again our tastes are in line. 🙂 That reminds me, I need to go check out your Insurgent review again now that I can read without worrying about spoilers.
      I can see why you would not be as enthusiastic to pick up the last book after Insurgent, I was so frustrated by the end of it that I struggled to even see the good points in the story because I was so disappointed. Aha! I approve of your choice of words. 😛 I am still curious to read Allegiant but I am not in as much of a hurry to pick it up now.

      Thanks! I don’t use them often on my blog, only when I feel they’re really appropriate and words won’t quite cut it. Plus, I thought it helped to break up the endless rant! Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. 🙂

  9. Haha the Zooey D. gif was great!

    You know, I’ve been pretty underwhelmed with Veronica Ross’s trilogy so far. I mean, I liked them. They were easy and fast reads but I guess all the hype around the books led me to expect greatness and I just didn’t get that from this series. Great review! I’m still figuring out how to articulate my feelings on my review of Divergent.

    • Haha thanks Lindsey, I thought it was pretty appropriate. 😛

      Oh really? That’s a shame. While I loved Divergent I did have several big gripes with it that I eventually overlooked because of the entertainment factor. At the same time, I can easily see why someone would not like this series, especially as Roth’s writing can be a bit rough around the edges. The hype may indeed be the problem! I actually had low expectations about this series and I think that is why I came away so enthralled with Divergent.

      Thank you, I look forward to reading yours!

  10. Pingback: Book Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth (5/5). The trilogy ramps up! | Taking on a World of Words

  11. Hi:

    The review you posted for Insurgent by Veronica Roth read to me like you demonstrated impartiality and insight. You stated your thought the way you should. I appreciate that you show both fairness and balance in your reviews. I will be following your other reviews with interest.


    • Hello!

      Thank you I’m so glad you think so, I don’t enjoy being critical about authors because I know they work so hard on their books, but at the same time a review is pointless unless we are honest. I’m glad you felt that it was fair and showed insight because that balance I aim for in my reviews!

      Awesome, I hope you enjoy reading. 🙂

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