Insurgent is the second book in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth.
Having survived the events of the first book, Tris must now learn how she is to move on from that. But with the Erudite faction planning to enslave all of the factions and half of Dauntless traitors, it is not that easy. Not only must she confront the demons of her past, Tris must also figure out how there is going to be any sort of future unless something is done to stop events unfolding.
Haunted by what had happened before, Tris knows she isn’t fighting for her life anymore, but just fighting for everyone else’s survival. But whatever actions she takes is followed by betrayal and Tris is no longer sure who she can trust. Even her relationship with Tobias is fracturing; their lack of trust with one another beginning to take its toll as he too must come face to face with his past and understand what that will mean. With everything so uncertain, it doesn’t seem possible that they can stop Jeanine Matthews from enslaving them all. Yet Tris knows there will be no peace for her if she doesn’t at least try.
The action and excitement in the story is well-presented, yet there is something missing from the writing, something that keeps you from turning the pages as fast as you can. Most of it stems from Roth’s characterisation. Tris spends most of the book going from recklessness to depression, and it is not portrayed in a way that makes you feel for her. She just appears unstable, the way the rest of the characters view her.
But it is not only Tris. The character development is lacking something, lacking a depth that makes you really care what happens to these people. Betrayals are quick and often, so much so they stop being a surprise and you stop caring about who is on whose side – because the chances are that you are wrong. It has the feel that the betrayals are simply a way of providing information and/or escape and allowing the plot to move on rather than actually having been deeply constructed into the plot itself.
The withholding of information has the same effect. Tris believes it is something important, but her narration isn’t as trustworthy as in the first book because she spends so much time doubting herself and admitting she is lying. Therefore any reveal on the information is just an anti-climax and it doesn’t seem worth it. Roth is clearly trying to keep the readers engaged, but she doesn’t dangle the bait low enough – you jump once and then no longer care.
So saying, it doesn’t mean that it is a poorly written book. It still keeps you reading to the end in order to find out what happens and ends in such a way that you just have to read the third book as well. Regardless of its faults, that fact alone must mean that Roth is doing something right.