Insurgent (Divergent Trilogy, Book 2)
Yep, it’s another one of those reviews wherein my thoughts are incondensable. You know the drill.
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.
It’s comforting to know that Roth picks up a few moments after she leaves off. Why, you might ask? It’s because I’ve finished this book and now have to wait until sometime next year to learn what happens next and it helps me to wait to know that I’ll hopefully get to pick up where I left off. It’s also pretty awesome given the amount of completely fraked up stuff that had happened right before the end of Divergent. This story picks up with Tris suffering from what I can only imagine to be a particularly soul rending combination of grief for her lost parents, guilt for what happened to Will and PTSD for bloody well everything else.
For a good portion of the book, Tris is going through a process that isn’t necessarily pleasant to experience in life, nevertheless read about in fiction. There are periods when she isn’t exactly likable. I read an interview that Roth did with Shelf Awareness that gave me a bit of perspective on this aspect of the book when I was about 80% of the way through it. Within the book, however, Roth did an amazing job of not falling prey to the Josh Problem. The Josh Problem became a term at here at the Platypus, when I read The Magician, by Michael Scott. While it was clear that one of the main characters, Josh, was likely going through something emotionally, he came off as being pathologically whiny and appeared to be drowning in angst. The Josh Problem is now used to describe characters that have gone too far into the unlikable realm, having been reduced to the worst available qualities of the prevalent stereotype under which they fall. Another prominent example would be Quentin from The Magicians by Lev Grossman. (Total coincidence on the titles being so similar.) I think one of the reasons why Tris never truly falls off of the cliff into Joshdom is that you already know her from Book 1. You know she’s this incredibly brave, strong, intelligent woman wrapped up into a tiny body and you want her to come back from whatever she’s dealing with. You want for her to process everything so that she can get back to normal as soon as possible. Roth skates over the thin ice with seeming ease. Tris might be unlikable for a portion of this book, but she’s not that way for 100% of it and there’s still plenty of drama to keep your eyes glued to the page.
As to the action, I’m really impressed with where the story ended. I won’t give anything away, but I will say this: I’m not a reader that goes of my way to figure out the mystery. Hell yeah, there’s a section of my brain working at it in the back of my mind the whole time, but it’s not like I’m sitting at lunch staring at my salad trying to figure out what it could possibly be. That being said, I love it when I think I have everything figured out and the author rips the rug out from underneath me. I want them to surprise me. It’s part of the reason I read so much.
In the end, this book is a heart-stopping tale of action, grief, love, and betrayal. You will not be able to put it down. Go to the bathroom first. You’ve been warned.
4.5 ink bottles.
Character Believability: 5 Buffys
Character Investibility: 4 Doctors
Pace/Tension/Urgency: 4 Dresdens
Worldbuilding: 4.5 Snyders
Language: 5 Feegles
Mystery: 4.5 Sherlocks