Tuesday, March 12, 2013

YA Review: Insurgent


Roth, V. (2012). Insurgent. London: Harper Collins.

[Genre: Dystopia]

I wasn't really planning on reviewing Insurgent. It was a read-for-my-own-enjoyment-as-a-rest-from-heavier-stuff kinda thing. But then it went and took me by surprise. [WARNING: spoilers for both Divergent and Insurgent ahead]. Insurgent picks up exactly where its predecessor Divergent (review here) left off: on a train, with the faction system falling apart and Tris reeling from the deaths she's just witnessed and caused. Throughout Insurgent Tris continues to battle with her own sense of identity, divided as she is between three factions, while trying to uncover the truth behind Erudite's slaughter of Abnegation, the faction of her birth.

Like Divergent, Insurgent is action packed. There is never a pause for breath as we rollic through Tris's increasingly complex life. It's also incredibly violent. Numbingly so. Roth has a talent for describing violence that even Susan Collins (of The Hunger Games) doesn't have and there were several times I had to pause to digest the utter horror behind what I'd just read. It's both extremely effecting and extremely disturbing. Part of me wondered sometimes if the extent of it was truly necessary to the story. I still haven't made up my mind on that one.

The plotting in Insurgent was slightly more fluid than the first installment of the series, though Roth still holds out on the true action until the last 100 pages. The world building still has major flaws, but when we come to discover that the entirety of Tris's society has been constructed by people outside of it, these flaws make a lot more sense to me and become forgivable. I'm interested to see how this continues to be tackled in book three - although I could see the twist coming from half way through Insurgent, it's still a thought-provoking concept and one I would have thought beyond Roth's scope from reading Divergent alone. She's developing as a writer, and I like that.

The romance continues to be extremely well done and I STILL appreciate the lack of a shallow love triangle. Instead, the deepening of Tris and Four's relationship is explored. Their reactions to each other are at times irrational, but completely realistic in terms of human relationships.  I truly truly appreciate that despite the difficulties and distances they face throughout the book there is never an immature 'I hate you, we're over' or 'I'm breaking up with you to protect you' moment that are so common in teen novels. There is ongoing commitment, despite hard times and it's just genuinely great. That being said, Four's line at the end as he finally places his trust in Tris near the end is eye-rollingly cheesy!

On the whole, I'm looking forward to the third installment of this series, which is released later this year (and like many others online, I'm just willing it to be called 'Detergent')

4 stars


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