Given the mega-online campaign preceding the release of Insurgent, it would be an understatement to say that this book was not on the “Most Anticipated Releases” list of 2012. But with anticipation and a great predecessor comes great responsibility, of course, and it remained to be seen whether Veronica Roth could live up to the hype! Well… she can… Insurgent passes the “second book in a trilogy”-test with flying colors…a hard test to pass too. Suzanne Collins – to whom Roth will undoubtedly be likened when it comes to ‘dystopia trilogies with a female protagonist’ – didn’t pass that test with Catching Fire, so Roth definitely has one up on Collins now (not that it’s a competition of course).
Insurgent is the type of book that you don’t want to go into even a teensy weensy spoiled, so I’ll make the summary extremely brief. Insurgent picks up straight after the end of Divergent with Tris and the rest finding temporary sanctuary with the Amity faction. Of course, being all peaceful and wanting to remain neutral all in the name of Amity & Peace is not a viable option when the world as you know it is at stake, so Abnegation-born, but Dauntless-chosen Divergent Tris gets herself into the adrenaline-packed action like there’s no tomorrow. Yet again there is action, violence, action, violence and more action, some of it with a clear purpose, some of it because frustration strikes our protagonists. The excitement factor just spikes through the roof again, but luckily Veronica Roth takes her time to tell the story, and at well-chosen points in the book she leaves the reader to catch his/her breath when Tris and the others get some time to regroup themselves. A clever move[i]. Focusing for instance on Tris’s insecurities after the events that happened in Divergent (<<<spoiler for Divergent>>> shooting Will) not only makes for a break in the action, but also contributes to the character development of the protagonists. For a book that is so plot-driven there is a lot of characterization. A little bit unfortunate maybe, but some of this characterization is there to add to the romance part of the book (Tris and Tobias/Four), but thank the factions that there’s no love triangle in this trilogy! As it is now, the romance stuff is there to show that even though a war might be going on and action is what is necessary, once there is that significant other you’ll think about that person no matter what. Frustrating for both character and reader sometimes, but definitely believable.
And I have to point out once again: Roth chose her telling techniques well too for this one. The first-person present tense perspective works a charm and definitely adds to the cinematic vibe that runs through the entire book. Roth is able to do something that very few authors can: through Tris she shows and tells at the same time. Plus, the frustration Tris feels after certain decisions is the frustration the reader feels too, which with all the twists and turns and questions about “who can you trust?” is a key element in making this story as convincing as possible.
Veronica Roth also addresses a minor annoyance that the cat had about Divergent. Remember how I said that it actually takes a huge amount of willing suspension of disbelief to “accept” Roth’s worldview the way it is? She never actually tells us how this future Chicagoan world came about, but after reading Insurgent I can say that this actually makes perfect sense! Establishing that early on in Book 1 would spoil so much of the enjoyment of this trilogy.
If you want to read Insurgent, you cannot go without at least glancing at a summary of Divergent or you will be lost in the names and motivations of the characters. Veronica Roth has compiled a nice list right here [ii]. The incredible cliffhanger with which Insurgent ends, is going to leave a lot of fans craving the publication of Book 3, and this cat for one cannot wait for that day to be there! Bring it on!
[i] I have read reviews of Insurgent saying that they feel there’s too much ‘filler’ in between the action of Insurgent and that the action in Divergent was somehow grander…but the cat would argue that the ‘filler’ that these reviewers talk about is a necessary element of Insurgent. Not only does Roth establish and advance the world-building with it (you get a good view of how the different factions interact), she also makes sure that the motivations of the characters are believable. Yes, despite the fact that they might frustrate you (this with regards to the Tris/Four dynamic).
[ii] Why not add this to a future printing of the book?