What I’m reading: INSURGENT by Veronica Roth

This book is being reviewed as a part of Tracey Neithercott’s YA Book Club. This month we’re talking about INSURGENT, which picks up right where DIVERGENT left off. Here’s the summary from the inside jacket:

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

After DIVERGENT’s pulse-pounding ending, I was anxious to see where Roth would take things in INSURGENT. For most of the novel, Tris and Four seem to bounce around Chicago, crossing paths with other factions, and even the factionless. This lets us get a glimpse at life within these other groups in a way that was not quite possible in DIVERGENT.

The pace of INSURGENT is intense–it seems that Tris and Four are nearly always in mortal danger–and that certainly kept me turning the pages. At the same time, the constantly high stakes began to have a numbing effect, although perhaps this was the point. Tris herself is numb for over half this story, struggling to accept all that has happened to her in the last few weeks.

Truthfully, these small, honest moments were we get of Tris struggling were some of my favorite of the novel. She mourns for the loss of her parents and realizes they will never again know her, or the woman she is becoming. She struggles to accept the fact that she killed Will when he was under simulation (in book 1), but chose to fight that same simulation when it came to Four, sparing his life. She is no longer able to hold a gun without guilt and grief crippling her. These moments speak to the complexities of being human, and I adored them.

Another aspect of the novel that I enjoyed–and a heavy focus of the overall story–was the evolving relationship between Tris and Four. Their relationship feels natural and respectful (minus the lying), and taxed by the pressures to two of them face. (Tris–Girl, if you are listening, you need to stop lying to your boyfriend! I beg you. Regardless of your intentions, you are only making things worse by doing so.)

But in the end, I didn’t like INSURGENT as much as I liked DIVERGENT. The twist at INSURGENT’s close was fantastic and sets things up nicely for book two, but I can’t help but think we could have gotten there sooner. Much of this novel felt drawn out to me, even with the aspects I loved. Given the reviews I’ve read so far, I seem to be in the minority, so please take my opinion for what it is: one reader’s opinion. Overall, there is much to love about INSURGENT, especially for readers that fell head over heels for DIVERGENT. Roth’s world only gets richer (and the stakes, higher) with this installment. The road ahead of these characters looks rocky at best. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Tris and Four.

If you’ve already devoured this novel, please tell me: What did you think of INSURGENT? Did you like it more than DIVERGENT? Less? What stood out to you about this novel?

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