Building on an already engaging premise, Insurgent
picks up right where Divergent
left off, with Tris and the other survivors seeking refuge in the other factions.
Roth still manages to keep the chapters all page turners, and the glimpses of the other factions were interesting. Tris is aggravating in her behavior and does a lot of stupid things, but the reasoning for her erratic behavior as a sense of grief and a misplaced urge to atone for her wrongs by dying makes sense. The continued relationship with Four/Tobias is...frankly a little worrisome for me. It works in how it shows how Tobias grew up in an abusive environment and how that abuse manifests in his treatment of Tris sometimes, but the resolutions always come too cleanly and I sometimes wonder if we're meant to take it as romantic, or a deeply flawed relationship that two people build through excessive trauma. I sincerely hope we get a better follow up for it being the latter once the third one comes out.
Which leads me to a major problem of Insurgent
, being the emotional reactions of some characters felt like they came because the plot necessitated it and not because of how they were portrayed. Peter's strange sense of debt paying really appears out of nowhere given he's such a lying, cheating, sociopathic coward through the first book. Christina feeling betrayed at Tris's shooting of Will made sense, but her sudden forgiveness was just so brief and glossed over later on that it cheapened the weight of Will's death. I feel these are Roth's attempts to add shades of good and bad to each character, like she succeeds with in Marcus, but sometimes they fall flat in execution. Need I mention the issue of Caleb agreeing to the deaths of his parents and all his neighbors while acting as a spy for Erudite?
Another ongoing problem is that the worldbuilding did not really improve in the sequel. It is fine for fans of dystopians like the Hunger Games
, where readers have enough to go off of and an interesting hook to keep them satisfied, but not for the ones who like to squint at the details and reasons. In fact, the final twist--straight out of a Twilight episode--really only made it shakier in its execution. At the same time I'd be interested in seeing how Roth plays with this in the final novel, already giving away the "Ta da!" reveal in this one.
I kept wavering between three and four stars, because it was an easy book for me to tear through and kept me engaged, but I feel like the flaws dragged it down from the first book. There were some wonderful moments in there, but it felt uneven and very much a bridge between two books than one in its own right with its own resolution. Still, the potential is still there for it to be a great foundation for book three.
Last random thoughts? Props to Insurgent
for introducing Johanna. She is the biggest BAMF there is.