Why are we all here? What’s our purpose? It’s something that puzzles almost everyone at some time in their life so those big questions are fairly important. The difference between real life and fiction is that in real life, there is no fixed answer to those questions so we settle for not knowing. When you make up a world, however, you do know the answers to those questions cause as I writer you know – or should know, I hope – why you’ve put your characters where they are and why the world is the way it is. I think questions like these and their answers, are even more important when it comes to dystopian fiction, cause those governments originated from our current system, so in order to pass your world on as believable, you have to provide your reader with the answers. Roth’s first novel didn’t have the answer to those questions, it never even mentioned the whole purpose behind the Faction-system. However, I was able to overlook that because it was such a great read and since it was a debut, I was more than willing to cut her some slack. For Insurgent, however, I wanted those questions to be raised because it was almost inevitable. When the whole system is on the verge of collapse it just has to become an issue. But what when the answer spells disappointment?
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.
Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off, with Tris and some other survivors from Erudite’s attack fleeing from the massacre in Abnegation. One thing that really struck me – even more so because I’ve read both books only two months apart – are the similarities with Suzanne Collins’s Mockingjay. The big difference between both books is that Mockingjay actually had a decent plot, Insurgent on the other hand, not so much. Tris overhears that there is some critical information that could change the tide of the battle and perhaps even change everything they know. So why forget about that for 450 pages and go on a boring trip throughout Chicago? Granted, I make it sound worse than it is, cause in fact, it’s not all that boring. The world gets expanded as they go along and it’s very nice to get a glimpse of how the other Factions are and how people dress and function there, according to their Faction’s beliefs. Apart from that, there is also quite some action throughout, but it’s all so pointless. Because there is no main goal for the plot of this book – and I don’t consider that secret information to be something of importance for the main part of the book, cause they don’t work towards it in any way – everything is just pointless. From how I see it, they could have sat around in any other Faction but Erudite and wait for 500 pages and then do what they did.
“Lover’s Lane is also filled with roundabouts
It wouldn’t have changed anything about the outcome, and frankly, it would have been better cause that way Tris and Tobias would have had the time to work out their issues. The refreshing thing about Divergent was how the love story took the backseat. Insurgent is pretty much that storyline taking the wheel and driving through Lover’s Lane at an enervating, slow speed. Apparently, Lover’s Lane is also filled with roundabouts, cause it just went on and on and on, always repeating itself. It’s amazing how people can be together for the most part of a book and not actually talk to each other besides some random chitchat and the occasional bickering. The main reason for this is of course Tris being insufferable. I get that she is distraught after what happened in Divergent, but after a good hundred to two hundred pages or so, I wanted her to snap out of it already. Instead we get a whole novel filled with teen angst and Tris whining and being irrational. What’s with that making the most stupid decisions ever? If she’s supposed to have an aptitude for Erudite as well, why does she keep behaving as someone who lost half her brain? It doesn’t make any sense at all, except that it provides some action and puts more strain on her relation with Tobias.
Another one of those illogical actions of Tris is when she decides to go with Marcus and work against Tobias, in order to obtain that critical piece of information. Where did that idea come from? On what grounds does she base her conclusion that she can trust Marcus all of a sudden? And because of one conversation you overheard – by said Marcus, whom she doesn’t trust, mind you – she decides that the information must be important? Why? Because he said so? It just doesn’t make any sense at all.
“it doesn’t take a genius to do the math
Let’s move on to the Big Secret, then. Without a doubt, it’s got something to do with the whole Faction system, I mean, even someone who hasn’t read the books but knows the basis premise can tell you as much. I had my ideas about it all, even when reading Divergent, but when Marcus said that he couldn’t tell her, because it was so big, I started doubting my theory. Roth got me fooled there. There is no freaking way that you can’t just tell what it’s all about, unless you’re looking for a way to end your book with some more action. On top of that, the actual secret was just a major disappointment and doesn’t make much sense. (Spoiler) So no, I don’t really get where this is all going and it looks like a mess at this point.
The information isn’t the only mess here, though. The whole build-up towards it was full of illogical things. Here are some questions: (Spoiler) All of these questions never got answered – conveniently – but it made a mess of it, in my opinion.
“action and teen angst
I realise this might all seem very harsh, but I do feel that this book is just tying the plotholes together with action and teen angst. There were aspects of it that I did like, though. The first that springs to mind is when the Dauntless return back to their Faction and start covering the cameras, which ends in a flat-out game of paintball. This book is quite harsh and brutal, but a scene like this lifted the spirits for a little while. Also, while I didn’t like Tris as a character, I really warmed up to Christina, who is the strong female character here and handled things way better than Tris did. The exploration of Peter’s character was nice as well, even though I wasn’t really waiting for it to happen. (Spoiler). Lastly, the writing is still very good. It’s very fluent and so well written that I just breezed through it. Roth is definitely an author to look forward to in the future.
In the end, I felt disappointed by Insurgent. Divergent was such a good read, but with this it feels like a very good idea is steering towards a very mediocre conclusion. I really hope she can wrap it up nicely and give some closure, cause I like the idea behind it too much to see it wither away. It’ll help if someone would read the next book in advance and point out where the holes in the plot and illogical leaps are, so they can we worked out. Cause if it weren’t for that, I would have enjoyed this book so much more.
★ ★ ★
Join the rebellion. Capture the secret message!
It should be clear by now that I’m not that fond of Insurgent – or Allegiant for that fact, but that’s for another review – and I wasn’t too keen on the movie-adaptation of Divergent either. Still, I decided to give the movie a shot.
The fact that I didn’t really like the book made that I didn’t feel disappointed after watching the movie, as happened with the first movie. Despite not being disappointed, however, it was still a lukewarm affair at best.
I had the feeling that the scriptwriters knew that there was something missing in the book and thus turned the whole Secret-mission upside down. Rather than Tris going on a wild goose-chase, they had Jeanine hunt the Divergents down in order to unlock her box (not a euphemism). While the story in itself felt a little unhinged, this switcheroo made Tris seem a little less so. What I remeber from the book was a whole lot of travel and some random shoot-outs. So why not make it that way that Tris has to pass some sims? That way the CGI-people keep busy. While not necessary, I quite liked this and the scheme. In no way did it fix the issues I had with the story, but at least it made them more entertaining.
While I had no direct issues with the acting, I’m sorry to say, though, that Shailene Woodly has yet to convince me. She isn’t helped by the fact that Tris isn’t the best character out there, but still. There is something that just doesn’t sit well with me. All this is made up for by the amount of Theo James’s screentime. Together with Kate Winslet, he’s the best thing about this movie. Oh, and his acting is pretty ok as well..