Ugh. I believed in you, Veronica Roth. I was captivated by the world you created in Divergent, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Insurgent. But now I’m trying to understand how you turned something so enjoyable into something so frustrating. I finished reading Insurgent last night and all that came to mind was: ugh.
Perhaps I am being a little too harsh. I didn’t hate the book. I started off enjoying it, with its immersive description of the too good to be true Amity and their complex relationships with the rest of the factions. But that was the most interesting part of the book for me. Overall it was an extremely subpar sequel to the first book. It didn’t capture my attention like Divergent, and it didn’t make me care about anyone like Divergent did. There wasn’t really a clear plot, so there wasn’t a sense of urgency in the narrative. I finished Divergent in two days, but it took me two weeks to finish Insurgent.
Anyway, here are a few things that miffed me:
- The characterization of literally everyone. In Divergent, the characters were electric. Sometimes Tobias annoyed me by how difficult he could be (one minute intensely aggressive, the next intensely compassionate), but at least he was intensely something. Insurgent-Tobias was like a zombie placeholder, only there to tell Tris what to do as if she were a child, and then hold her when she cried like one. I never really knew what he was feeling. All of his actions didn’t seem to be driven by his personality, but instead by something the author wanted to highlight about Tris (she’s reckless, suicidal, etc.). I didn’t know why Tobias did what he did, and by the end I stopped caring.
The other characters weren’t much better. I felt like Roth wanted to portray Tris as very depressed (which would have been understandable), but instead she just seemed whiny. Reading from her point of view was almost as painful as reading from Bella’s in the second Twilight book. Roth also introduced a variety of other characters who came in and out throughout the book, so I never really got to know them or care about them. There was very little escape from Tris’s “woe is me” mindset.
- It was unrealistic and simplistic. By the end of Divergent, it’s clear that Tris is powerful and Jeanine’s army wants her dead. They want all of the Divergent dead, or at least captured. And yet, Tris hops from place to place, with her only disguise being a new shirt, and barely anyone recognizes her. You would think Jeanine would take a hint from Dolores Umbridge and at least stick up some “Wanted” posters with her face on them. Instead, Tris freely roams the streets of Chicago, entering the headquarters of every faction, and even the factionless, far too easily. Sure, she was found eventually and there were tiny battles, but the whole narrative was too simplistic for me to appreciate.
- THE ENDING. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m not sure I can even talk about the ending. Let’s just say it’s ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. The whole book chases this notion that there is a vital piece of knowledge that Jeanine has, and it concerns what is happening outside the fence. When I found out what this knowledge was, I wanted to throw the book out the window because IT MAKES NO SENSE. I really think Roth backed herself into a corner here and simply could not think of anything better. I can only hope the third book makes more sense of the revelation, or else I will tear it to pieces. (Just kidding, I’m incapable of destroying books no matter how bad they are.)
It may seem like I despised this book, but there were a couple redeeming factors that make it more than a two-star book. Firstly, after seeing the Divergent movie, I pictured Tobias as Theo James throughout the book and it was wonderful. I understand this has nothing to do with the actual book, but it made it so much better. Secondly, I was left still wanting to read the third book, which counts for something. So I’m going to shake off Insurgent, and dive into Allegiant. And then, of course, I’ll report back.