Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Review: Insurgent

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This particular review will be short and sweet since I don't have much to say about it outside of the fact that I'm really impressed. To backtrack, when I first finished reading Divergent (book 1), I did not anticipate the following book as much as others might have. Divergent had a good story line, a good premise, great characters, good set-up, and some nice intensity to set up its dystopian grandeur to rival the Hunger Games world. But the execution of the story line was a little stifled and unbalanced. Divergent started off with a slight drag as it spent a lot of time building up the Dauntless initiation phase as well as Tris's growth from abandoning her previous faction and finding a place in her new faction. While it was all fun and enjoyable, it wasn't as emotionally rewarding as the Hunger Games fast-paced telling had been. But then we get into the latter half of Divergent and everything suddenly picks up speed and we feel rushed to find a good resolution to the first story arc. And so while I DID enjoy reading Divergent, it wasn't very impressive of a start.

HOWEVER, I didn't realize how much I was really anticipating the second book until I actually started reading it. What the first book lacked in depth, emotion, relatability, twists and the like... well, this second book made up for more than enough of what I hadn't been satisfied about before. It was like the author knew exactly what was left hanging from the first book (that I personally felt cheated on) and included all of it in wonderfully with Insurgent's creation.

The first book ended on such a fast-paced closing that there wasn't time to see into Tris's mind; but in the second book, we immediately delve into that exact psyche of hers to see how the aftermath of all that has happened is now affecting her. And so we get a chance to follow a more emotionally unstable heroine as she struggles with herself as well as with the world around her to find some sort of inner peace, and yet she never feels like she can get there. I especially enjoyed following through Tris's eyes as all of this happens to her, though there are moments where she gets quite mopey and you start to wonder where that spunky, stubborn, violent Tris Prior disappeared. While I DID appreciate that Tris's instability didn't always deter her perceptiveness and her determination, there were moments where I wondered whether she had been given too much credit by the author in trusting her own instincts and always being right about certain happenings.

The second book even gives us more interaction between friends, foes, family, and people of factions who have never interacted before. I like that we get to see more of the rest of the factions and live through the culture shock through Tris's eyes. There was more development in friendships that could have potentially shattered, and family ties that were supposedly strong, and even factions that were initially united. And then finally, we get to see what I'd been wondering about this strange dystopian society in the first place; a twist for the ending that tells us about the outside world which was never once mentioned in the first book. Here we get a small taste of what's to come in the next installment, a possibly more thorough explanation of why the society was built the way it has been for so long. The conspiracy of this entire, strange division among factions as well as the appearance of Divergent. And just as well, a new twist involving a family history lessen, maybe, about the Priors. While a lot of it felt rather predictable as the ending neared, I still found it pretty well executed and a very smooth transition into the next book.

And so, unlike with my feelings after Divergent, I look forward to seeing what will come about in the next book (maybe a conclusion to the series?). Kudos to Veronica Roth -- even though I didn't quite take to the first book, this second book, Insurgent, was presented much more thrillingly and much more satisfactorily than the first one. It is nice that the books become progressively better rather than worse, but it was also great that the first book didn't entirely deflect the series from my radar anyway.

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