Sunday, June 10, 2012

Choices That Can Kill: Insurgent

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Harper Teen, 2012

Though I finished this book a while ago, I wasn't able to write my thoughts about it right away because I simply needed time to think about this roller coaster Veronica Roth had put me through as a reader. My brain had to process everything that happened and what it could all mean in this second  installment of the Divergent trilogy and what could possibly be in store the in series' conclusion.

Insurgent picks up where the first book left off - Tris, Four, her brother Caleb, and some other survivors of the simulation attack are making their way to the Amity faction's headquarters, seeking shelter and answers. But any sort of answers Tris does manage to find only lead to more questions, as is the nature of war. While the saying "faction before blood" still hangs in the air, its meaning begins to crumble as factions turn against each other and the members divide amongst themselves.

This book is incredibly emotional and raw, and I love how Tris isn't some kind of mindless killing machine but actually a sixteen year old girl who is rocked by her grief in the midst of chaos. The things she's done haunt her every day, every moment, and the choices she feels she has to make kill her metaphorically as well as sometimes resulting in the deaths of others. It is a sign of a good dystopian novel, in my opinion, when these choices are not easy ones. I didn't always like what Tris was doing, but I admired that she was always trying to do the right thing, be it honor her parents' legacies or try to keep those she loves safe. These are much bigger signs of her Dauntless bravery to me than her ability to physically fight.

We also get insight into the other factions as well as a lot more characters. Four/Tobias was well-rounded and full of depth in the first book, and he continues to fascinate me as more of his story comes to light. Readers also get keen insights on Caleb and as a reader who also has an older brother, I appreciated how Roth captures the dynamic of how two siblings, close in age and raised in the same house, can be so alike and dissimilar at the same time. Getting to see the inside of the other factions was also a treat to me, and I was fascinated by how much thought Roth has clearly put into her world building and into this society where people push their devotion to one singular virtue to the extreme. (Personally, if I had to choose a faction, I'd go for Amity, but like Tris, I think all of us are actually much more Divergent than we realize.)

There were two spots in particular that left me slack-jawed and thinking "What the hell just happened?!" but I won't say because spoilers are the worst. What I will say is that I cannot wait for the final installment (which Roth says she currently refers to as Detergent on her computer) to come out some time next year. I'm also incredibly grateful that I got the chance to hear her read and meet her at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, IL at the beginning of May (though I geeked out pretty bad, but what can I say? She and I are literally only a few days apart in age and her talent and accomplishments are impressive! I feel like I've seriously been slacking, and that she's definitely the kind of person I'd be friends with. And we both went to Big 10 schools! But anyway... haha)

If you are a fan of dystopian fiction showcasing strong yet incredibly realistic characters, then the Divergent series is something you must look into if you haven't picked it up already. Insurgent challenges readers to dig deeper and to realize that nothing is ever quite as black and white as people (especially those in Candor) might want to believe.

Comments welcome and, as always, happy reading!

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