Review first published 10/05/12
Rather than do a brief blurb about the book, I’m going to launch straight into my review. I was a big fan of Veronica Roth’s first book in this series, “Divergent”, it was my first Dystopian read and will always have a special place for me because the substance matched the hype.
Whilst I enjoyed “Insurgent”, I have to admit that I personally didn’t find it as fulfilling as the original novel. Part of me suspects that it was a case of personal “over-hype”, of reading the book as soon as it was released because ever book blogger and their dog will be reading it (something I have since found not to be the case). Part of me suspects it was my “Hunger Games” readathon, spending three solid weeks in Dystopia.
Away from the soundbite for now, let’s get to the substance. Character wise, Veronica Roth invests the same level of care in fleshing out and building upon the characters from the first book.
The lead character of Beatrice/Tris is, again, well rounded. Gone is the teenager from the start of the first book and even the Dauntless version of her character who is trying to prove herself. This is a woman who is now born from the tragedies that befall her from the conclusion of the previous book and, throughout the course of this book, a woman who casts off any identity she may have for the common good.
Like the previous book, Tris is the central character and the story is written from her perspective. However, in “Insurgent” she is more of a pro-active participant in this book and rather than a reactor who things happen to. In fact, Tris is very much THE pro-active character as her actions make her the focal point of the story.
The supporting characters are equally well rounded and intricate as old characters are reintroduced including Tobias/Four, Peter – Tris’s chief tormentor, Christina – Tris’s fellow transfer initiate plus some surprise returns. However, to progress the storyline, Roth introduces some new characters into the melting pot and they add spice into the storyline at just the right points… a little bit of sniping here, a little bit of conflict there. No characters are wasted.
The storyline of this book is closely bound to the original book, in fact the events of “Insurgent” follow on immediately following the last page of “Divergent”. So, my suggestion would be if you haven’t read “Divergent” or you have forgotten the storyline of that book, please read it before you read “Insurgent”.
That said, there is a shift in tone between this novel and the original. Where “Divergent” used action to drive the story’s psychological theme – that a person is separated into a sub-society based on their personality, “Insurgent” uses the psychological theme to drive the storyline – particularly focussing on Tris’s personality traits as a Divergent. In fact, by the end of the novel, you get a sense that you’ve wandered into an episode of the Patrick McGoohan television series “The Prisoner”, especially during the scenes of the book where Tris has to undergo torture/examination through the use of the simulation drugs.
In addition to this, “Divergent” is an examination on power – whether it be the use or withholding of knowledge as an act of power in the case of the Erudite, the need by the Dauntless faction to use strength in numbers as a means of obtaining power or the fact that the Amity do not seek it for themselves through staying impartial to the conflict that surrounds them are examples of this.
“Insurgent” is a darker novel throughout, which is surprising given the already dark tone of “Divergent”. Alongside the psychological aspects, there are still scenes of conflict and the use of weaponry.
So, if I liked the novel, why the rating and why didn’t I like it as much as the original? Well, it’s the ending, I felt that given the actual conclusion there was a lack of emotional attack to it. However, this could be a personal thing due to the fact that I have been anticipating it for so long or due to the fact that the ending acts as a set up for the trilogy’s conclusion.
That said, it’s a well written novel and as long as you bear that in mind, you will be entertained by it.