Friday, April 11, 2014

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Page #: 525
Name and # in Series: Book #2 in Divergent Trilogy
Book Blurb: One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

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.

For those of you that have read my previous review of Divergent you will probably notice that I gave Insurgent a half star lower rating. I really had so many hopes for the second book in the trilogy and at the end of my reading experience I just ended up more disappointed.

I'll just start off with the positives of the novel before I get into the main complaints I have and even a few nit-picky ones. No matter what I have to say about Insurgent the truth of the matter is that this book in general is very plot driven and manages to easily hold my attention. I bought this book and in about two days I finished it and picked up the last book in the series. The ease with which people can read this book is probably its saving grace. Had the plotline been slow to start and clunky the entire way I wouldn't even be here writing another review. Insurgent, like Divergent also has a great cliffhanger at the end that easily motivates you to pick up the next book in the series. I can only imagine how terrible it must have been for people who actually had to wait for the sequel to be released. 

That being said there are A LOT of flaws in this book and what really motivated me to lower my rating down a half star is the fact that many of the problems that existed in Divergent are even worse in Insurgent. First of all I would just like to point out that there is no brief recap of the past events of Divergent at the beginning of this book. I consider the true hallmark of a great series author to be their ability to integrate some important events from the previous book in such a way that doesn't interrupt the narrative or stall the new plot development. When I picked Insurgent up and started reading, Tris is busy mourning the loss of Will and for about a solid 10 minutes I kept asking myself "Who the hell is Will?" and why is she blubbering so much. Of course after a google search I remembered he was the friend she ended up shooting. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for people to remember plot details who actually had to wait the full time for the sequel.

On the same topic I don't know if this was just me, but did anyone else find it rather unusual that Tris mourns more for Will than she does for her own parents. I get that her and Will bonded during their training experiences and that it is rather upsetting to have to shoot your own friend, but I feel like the death of the people you loved and who raised you it actually more important.

Before I move on to my next complaint I think we should all take the time to thank our lucky stars that Roth decided not to incorporate a love triangle in this book. Lately, so many YA authors have been forcing readers to endure the ever annoying choice been two men for the protagonist and really I can't take much more of it. That being said, some people will also not appreciate me for this comment, but I hated Four and Tris' relationship in this book. In the first book he is all about encouraging her to accept her new identity and to become a stronger and better person. Now he is too busy treating her like that collection of highly breakable porcelain dolls your grandmother collects (nope, just mine? Okay) Every two seconds he argues with her about how this mission is too dangerous for her and that he hates when she puts her life on the line when she really shouldn't. Excuse me, but isn't that the whole point for being a Dauntless?!? Speaking of arguments it seems like every other chapter the two of them get into petty fights that aren't realistic and interrupt the plot. These fights essentially stand in for authentic relationship growth. By the middle of this book, I just wanted to tell Tris to dump Four and be her awesome heroic self.

My next complaint is actually one of the ones that I had when I read Divergent and that is the complete lack of chapter transitions. Until I read this book, I had no idea just how important those transitions were. I get the point of cutting those out is to throw the readers right into the action, but it really only leaves me confused. I'm hesitant to cite one particular instance of this because I don't want to spoil the plot, so I'll leave it to you to find the numerous examples of this. I'd also like to point out that when there is a lack of a chapter transition, I'm always convinced that I skipped a page, so I go back and reread the ending of the previous chapter only to find that I didn't miss anything.

The last complaint that I have is another one from my previous review and that is the complete lack of world building yet again. We still have no idea how the factions formed or why being Divergent is so scandalous or why the entirety of the society collapsed to form this one. The sad thing is that I've actually started to read Allegiant and discovered that all of the world building happens in this last book. THE LAST BOOK. I think I'll save this particular rant for my review of that book because I have a lot to complain about.

I guess what I'm trying to convey through this review and the one I did for Divergent is that these books do have some annoying flaws, but at the end of the day they are still enjoyable reads. The Divergent Series is not the worst Dystopian series I've ever read, but it is certainly not the best either. I would still recommend this series if you are looking for an interesting, plot driven read.