*There may be some spoilers in this review for those that have not read Divergent yet. I would highly recommend you start from the beginning of the series, so have a look at my review for the first book here!*
As soon as I finished DIVERGENT, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy of INSURGENT to find out what happened next after that semi-cliffhanger. Unlike those that read DIVERGENT when it first came out, I didn't have to wait a year to find out what happened next for Tris and Tobias. After a hunt at my library, a frantic text to my friend and then a two and a half hour bus journey to hers from college (long story), I finally had my hands on a copy of INSURGENT. There was no hint at all in DIVERGENT of what Roth would throw at me next so I opened the book that evening with an open yet curious mind. Boy, that was one heck of a book...
Synopsis: Tris's initiation day into Dauntless should have been full of celebrations to be one of the few to enter the faction. But after the attack simulation, war is on the edge of breaking out as faction rivalries and conflict looms to the surface. Tris and Tobias are safe with their remaining friends (and some enemies) at Amity, trying to figure out the next steps to stop Jeanine Matthews while grieving for the family and friends that they lost. Soon they are forced to leave the Amity headquarters. but with the amount of death and destruction Tris has witnessed in such a short space of time, she has to accept her Divergence either to look towards the future with hope or to plan revenge.
Review: The plot of INSURGENT is one that is hard to describe in a short synopsis without revealing too much or sounding too vague. The book starts moments after the ending in DIVERGENT with Tris waking up on a train with Tobias, Marcus and her brother, Caleb on their way to the Amity headquarters. I'm glad Roth decided to start the narrative straight from where she left off, you miss literally nothing. The plot is hard to describe also because so much changes throughout.
And wow, so many things happen! I was just so blown away by this novel that on reading the last page, I just sat there for a few moments in shock. I mean EVERYTHING CHANGES. Roth has this skill where she makes this world which you think you know well enough from DIVERGENT, she makes these lovely characters all with depth, back stories and likable when they need to be. Yet BAM all that is completely turned on its head and sends the narrative in a completely new direction. In books, you never know the complete ending until you get to that part but Roth makes you realise that you can't trust or understand a character or setting completely because of all the secrets, the deceptions lying underneath. In a sentence, I thought I knew most of the characters (especially one whose deception to Tris was a SAY WHAT? moment) but by the end of INSURGENT, I so did not. Frequently, I was left in shock muttering 'What on earth just happened?!'.
As many trilogies, the second book is normally the worse. It's one that has to happen before the final dramatic ending but after the initial introduction of the characters and world and the first dramatic surprises. It normally suffers from 'Second Book Syndrome' as I saw a blogger once dub it. The only series which hasn't done that for me was The Hunger Games, a book that DIVERGENT is compared a lot to; Catching Fire was by far my favourite out of the three books.
INSURGENT also doesn't suffer from this syndrome. Although, I think overall DIVERGENT was a bit better, INSURGENT is up there in one of the most stressful, high-tension, action-packed books I've read. I thought DIVERGENT was action-packed but that was NOTHING compared to this book!
You are kept on edge throughout the whole book, when you think there is a peaceful moment, that is snatched away by the next dilemma being thrown at you. I did sometimes find that feeling of being on edge constantly a little too much, there are such huge events that kept happening and trying to keep up with it all needs some concentration. I felt I needed to keep reading and reading until the early hours of the morning or the last moments before I had to get off the train because I needed to know the consequences of a certain action or the next threat that would be thrown at Tris; who would die, where would they go next, what would happen to Tris and Tobias - I needed to know.
Tris was a character I absolutely loved in DIVERGENT for her toughness and empathy, I felt very connected with her struggles with her Divergence and against those that hated her. The Tris in INSURGENT is very different. She is much more emotional, confused and incredibly angry as a consequence of both her own and others actions. I'm not entirely sure how I felt about the change, it's was a little surprising I guess and there were moments where I found this version of Tris a little annoying.
She's not the only one that has a change in them. Tobias, who I adored in DIVERGENT (like nearly everyone else), shows a more independent, strategic side to himself that is always trying to be ready for the next attack to protect those he loves. He is also full of anger and angst so combined with the action, the emotions add to the tension and the feeling of being on edge. While Tobias and Tris' relationship in DIVERGENT formed into something so wonderful and perfect, INSURGENT unsurprisingly changes this and shows some ups and downs of their connection because of the horror and war around them. Looking back now, it made it more realistic and at some points, I don't think the plot would have worked had there still been this perfect, beautiful romantic relationship at the heart.
As a reader, we learn more about other characters mentioned in DIVERGENT which made it heartbreaking when certain characters were killed off or named traitors. Although Tris and Tobias mean something special to a reader, the other characters all added to my love for this book.
Now. The ending. Just....I'm still processing what happened in the final scene and the revelation literally on the last page. In the last remaining chapters, I was seriously wondering what would be in the third book. Tris' aim throughout INSURGENT was in the process of being accomplished, this person was killed, that person wasn't killed, this happened, that had happened - there felt to be a lot of closure until the very last page. And oh my. That was a little bit of a shocker that left me just flabbergasted, rushing to re-read it, staring at my reflection in the mirror opposite my bed with a look like I'd been told I'd passed all my exams with A*'s. Pure shock - it's been a while since I've felt that emotion over a book. I, as many, have no idea what will be happening in the final book in this series. It's just...I have no idea. I want to know now...but I have no idea. Sometimes you have a small hint or thought of what will happen in the conclusion, but I do not know. At. All WHY ROTH DO YOU DO THIS TO ME?!
If you've made it through this review this far without skipping paragraphs, I'm pretty sure I've established this novel as pure literary art. Roth crafts a novel of suspense, action, betrayal and most of all love set in a world that cannot be compared to any other book, and full to the brim of some real shockers. At the heart of the action, war and corruption are a host of powerful relationships that keeps the narrative addictive. This series has taken up the majority of my reading in February because of its ability of forcing you to need to keep reading on and on about Tris. I haven't read a series this good in a long time which leaves me with one last thought for this frantic, rambling review: Veronica Roth, you are a master of words.
I give it a 5 out of 5
Author's Website: http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.co.uk/
Book 1: Divergent - Veronica Roth