Nowhere near as good as Divergent (spoiler alert!!!)
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 October 2012
I really loved Divergent, the first book in Veronica Roth's trilogy. It really reinvigorated my hopes in YA SF literature, having read such rubbish lately.
This book, "Insurgent", is the second in the series (the third title is yet to be decided), and though I was really looking forward to reading it, I felt really let down with it from the very start.
So, let me recount the reasons I'm so disappointed:
First, I was in the lucky position of having JUST finished Divergent and able to download Insurgent on my Kindle, so there was no wait for me to carry on with the exciting conclusion of the first book. And yet, even though I'd literally put down the first book, I found it difficult to get my bearings in the second book: who was whom, who was friend or foe (or somewhere in between), where were they and where were they going, and I felt the author gave very, very little back story -- only brief references to the previous book -- so if you hadn't read Divergent, or haven't read it in a long time, you might really struggle to work out what was going on.
(I think this may partly be connected to reading on a Kindle: it's so much harder to look back in a book to get your bearings or remind yourself about characters)
Second, (and spoiler alert if you haven't read Divergent) Roth left us at the end of Divergent with the whole society on the verge of breakdown, Dauntless split in half, the Erudite sneakily trying to take over, Abnegation all but ruined, and what does Beatrice focus on? That, in the fit of battle when she had no idea that any kind of order would ever be restored, she shot one of her friends who was essentially hypnotized and trying to kill her. I found this obsession with guilt over killing Will (and, supposedly because of it, never being able to use a gun again) a bit far-fetched. To my mind, she had far bigger fish to fry.
Third, one of the things I loved about Divergent was the risk-taking, hedonistic, head-first culture of the Dauntless, and how Beatrice -- though struggling with it because of her upbringing and value system -- never the less pushed herself to the very edges of these boundaries. I just felt like this adventurous (even reckless?) spirit was missing, not only from Beatrice but from the whole Dauntless remnant. (Spoiler: I mean, really! Would the Dauntless knowingly and thoughtlessly pass their guns to the Factionless at the end,leaving themselves entirely defenseless?? Bah-humbug!!!)
Finally, the build-up throughout the book is that Marcus, leader of the Abnegation, is in possession of some secret so heinous or incredible that life will end amongst the factions as they know it if anyone finds out, and that the Erudite have supposedly created their mad plot in order to stop this information from leaking out, and to use it to their own advantage. All tied up in this is something important with the Divergent thinkers amongst them.
Then you eventually find out what it is and ... well ... is that all???? I'm still trying to work out how the information was the catalyst for everything that had been happening up till then, what possibly they were planning to do about it, and why the Divergent were targeted.
I'm hoping that the third book will 'splain it all to me, because right now, I just feel really let down that the "immense and incredible and life-changing information" was just a big anti-climax.
I know that Roth, on her website, has said that she's taking an extra year to write the third book, and I do hope she spends as much time on it as she obviously did on Divergent, and not (as it feels to me) rush into publishing a second-rate effort like Insurgent.
I know she's got it in her, so my expectations are high.
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