What should have been a day for celebration ends in tragedy. Tris has been initiated into the Dauntless faction, but she’s lost both her parents in the meantime. As Tris struggles with her grief and guilt over what has happened, she must also deal with the fact that a war is coming. The factions can no longer live in relative peace, and everyone is choosing sides. As she and Tobias work to find out the truth about what is going on and struggle to determine who is on the side of right, they must also deal with their feelings for each other–and what it all means.
Insurgent, Roth’s follow-up to last year’s extremely popular Divergent, is arguably one of the most anticipated books of 2012. The publicity blitz surrounding the book’s release at the beginning of May was overwhelming (and frankly a little off-putting). Now that the book’s out, fans will be clamoring to get their hands on a copy of the fast-paced dystopian novel. For a middle novel in a planned trilogy, Roth manages to continue Tris’s story without sacrificing suspense. Additions to the complex world-building as well as superior characterization make this novel surprisingly readable.
Perhaps most noteworthy is Roth’s clear fascination with the sociological and emotional ramifications of the faction system in place in Tris’s world. As the factions get closer and closer to war with one another, Roth is careful to examine each of the faction’s traits and what it is that makes the people within them tick. There’s a great deal of exploration of each of the factions in the novel, and while some readers will grow tired of it, others will relish the care and depth of thought that went into creating each of these groups.
Roth is also adept at her characterization. This is never more clear than it is with narrator Tris, whose personality and convictions only grow from the first novel in this second installment. Her grief over the loss of her parents is palpable and informs her every choice. Although Tobias is not as well-developed as Tris, he still has clear characteristics, and the two have a realistic chemistry. Also remarkable is Roth’s ability to lend characterization to so many secondary and tertiary characters–and they are plentiful. There are a few too many characters present in the novel, especially because Roth does not bother recapping the first novel in order to help refresh the reader’s mind.
Despite the use of several plot contrivances (like the truth serum–ick), the novel’s pace and genuine tension keeps things moving along at a breakneck speed. Readers won’t be able to put down the book as they race to the novel’s big reveal–though it is not particularly surprising (nor plausible, but that is another conversation entirely). If readers enjoyed the first book in this series, they’ll enjoy this one. The only problem is waiting for the third book.
Insurgent by Veronica Roth. HarperTeen: 2012. Library copy.