05 March 2013

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

I know what some of you are thinking: Does every young adult novel these days have to be part of a dystopian trilogy? And I admit that the market seems to be flooded. Regardless, some series do stand out above the crowd.

As I wrote last summer when I reviewed Divergent, the first in a futuristic series set in a crumbling Chicago, Veronica Roth's character development and world building drew me into the story. If you are totally unfamiliar with the series, see my earlier review for the setup, which I won't repeat here. This post contains no spoilers for Insurgent, but I can't avoid some spoilers for the first book.

Insurgent picks up almost immediately after the first book ends. Sixteen-year-old Tris Prior is still reeling from the initial battles of civil war in which she was forced to use violence and in which she witnessed the deaths of loved ones. There is little time for her to recover, however, because her participation in the revolt was caught on camera, and the central government has included her in their group of most-wanted individuals.

It soon becomes apparent that Tris is being hunted down for more than her use of a gun. In a society that relies on conformity for keeping the peace, anyone--like Tris--who has a strong free will is considered to be dangerous. Thus Insurgent follows Tris and her allies as they struggle to stay alive while attempting to find the key that will expose the central government's use of mind control to keep its citizens in line.

Although I loved Divergent, I had mixed feelings about Insurgent. I was pleased that Roth continued to developed Tris's world, introducing additional characters and showing us surprising aspects of individuals we thought we already knew. The use of and ongoing research into mind-controlling drugs continued to fascinate me, prompting me to consider a variety of ethical questions. In fact, many of the items in HarperTeen's discussion guide for the first book center around such issues (I didn't find a reading guide for Insurgent.)

The principal problem with Insurgent is Tris's relationship with the boy who goes by the name of Four. Although Tris is stronger and more independent than Bella (of the Twilight books), the novel is still full of the angst of teen romance. Tris and Four's on-again/off-again status changed so often, it was getting difficult to keep track. Not only was it tiresome to read about but it diluted the moments when Tris was forced to choose between fulfilling her own desires and advancing the greater good. I felt the relationship issues got in the way of the much more interesting societal problems and distracted my attention from the twists and turns of the larger plot.

Now you might be wondering if I plan to read book three. I do. First, the strength of the Divergent gives me hope that book three will return to the roots of the series, putting Tris and Four's romance on a side burner. Second, Insurgent ended on a major revelation about the world at large, and I really have to know what happens next.

I listened to the unabridged audio edition (Harper Audio, 11 hr, 22 min) read by Emma Galvin. Once again, Galvin demonstrated her skill at conveying a wide range of teenage emotions. Her excellent pacing and consistent characterizations added to my enjoyment of the story. If Galvin is the narrator of the next book in the Divergent series, I'll be sure to listen.

Buy Insurgent at an Indie or a bookstore near you. This link leads to an affiliate program.
Published by HarperCollins / Katherine Tegen Books, 2012
ISBN-13: 9780062024046
Rating: C+
Source: bought (see review policy)
t © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


TP 3/5/13, 8:05 AM  

I had a few problems with Insurgent - although I thought it was okay. My main issue was with the reasoning behind the dystopian society - it just didn't seem plausible. Also Tris' actions - didn't understand them sometimes.

Tanya Patrice

rhapsodyinbooks 3/5/13, 10:38 AM  

Totally agree with you on every point of your review!

Zibilee 3/5/13, 12:12 PM  

I still need to read Divergent, which I just got on audio, so I didn't read your total review for fear of spoilers. It sounds like this series is one that I shouldn't keep waiting, because it seems like everyone has already read it!!

Sandy Nawrot 3/5/13, 1:04 PM  

I loved Divergent, but have had this one on my nightstand for quite awhile (my daughter devoured it). This is because of a couple of reasons...I have too much angst in my real life, so I'm not excited to read about more. And second, most second books are a means to an end, honestly. Rarely are the middle books much more than the author catching his/her breath before they blow us out of the water in the final installment.

A Buckeye Girl Reads 3/5/13, 3:11 PM  

I still have this one on my TBR pile..my main problem was that it gave no recap of Divergent, and my memory is so bad that I now have to re-read it to catch up on everything again!

Belle Wong 3/5/13, 4:40 PM  

I want to try more dystopian fiction (the only dystopian series I've read is Justin Cronin's zombie one). I should give the audio version of Divergent a try.

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 3/6/13, 11:18 AM  

I loved Divergent but Insurgent wasn't nearly as good. The plot wandered around and the ending was too abrupt as sometimes happens to the middle book of a trilogy.

Julie P. 3/6/13, 4:07 PM  

Not sure this is for me but I feel like I should at least read the first one.

Jenners 4/3/13, 7:55 PM  

I read the first one and was on the fence about this one -- quite a few people seem to agree with you that this isn't as strong as the first book. I do want to find out how things got that way though!

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