Sunday, March 30, 2014

Insurgent [Review]

Title: Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #2
Genre: Science-Fiction
What They Say:
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

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—and even more powerful. 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.

What I Say:
I was planning to review the first book in this series, because that'd be logical, but I recently picked up the second book instead and absolutely had to write about it. Considering this series' recent box office success, this seemed like the perfect time. This book had relationship issues, shitty relatives, and some good old dystopian insurrection. That said...

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Plot: wow
Beatrice Prior is not having a very good month. She may have thought being Divergent - or fitting more than one of society's virtue-based factions, and consequentially being hunted down by those who see her as threat - was the worst of her problems; but like, no. For one - Jeanine Matthews, leader of Erudite, launched an attack on Abnegation which led to the death of both her parents. Now she's on the run with her instructor-turned-lover Tobias and some majorly undesirable companions. One of whom is Marcus Eaton, a generally horrible father who made Tobias's childhood a living hell. The problem is: Marcus is harboring information about a game-changing secret that Jeanine will do anything to keep the factions from finding out. Entering into secret deals with Marcus will jeopardize her relationship with Tobias (obviously), so Tris will have to decide what she values more: her broody boyfriend or the future of the entire world as she knows it.

I’m not gonna lie, I really enjoy the plot of these books. There were very few scenes that felt like filler, and even though a lot of characters are introduced hastily and brought back later on, I didn't feel overwhelmed the way I do with other series, where I eventually stop caring what peoples' names are because 1) there are just too many and 2) they're probably going to get killed off anyway. On that note, I was weirdly impressed with how dire things get for a YA novel, by which I mean how many people die in horrible ways. Everyone is fair game: Kids? Dead. Close friends of main characters? Dead. People that seem generally nice and don't appear to be in any danger at any point? D-e-a-d. In a weird way, it really raises the stakes for our main characters, whose evasion of death seems downright miraculous. I am beyond intrigued for the last book, Allegiant, although I've heard ominous rumors about the ending...

Characters: wow
People often compare this series to The Hunger Games because of the "tough teenage girl" angle, but I feel like Insurgent takes that to another level. Some girls get paper cuts or a bad burn on the leg; Tris has a bullet wound in her right shoulder for at least half the story. So yeah, this book goes there. Because of her ties to Dauntless and Abnegation, Tris has an internal complex about being selfless and brave that gets tedious after a while (considering those aren't the only virtues that matter...), but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt because of her faction-obsessed society.

I like Tobias a great deal, but in Book 2 he's painted as this dual-sided character: One part brave, impressive fighter; other part twice-kicked puppy with serious daddy issues. And mommy issues. And issues related to trust in general. Hm.
Relationships: ooh
Tris and Tobias - These two have been brought together by coincidence and are held together by their general moodiness, shared personal tragedy, and the fact that they're both very attractive. The only thing keeping them apart is Tobias's difficulty outgrowing his role as Dauntless instructor. A lot of the "arguments" in this book are really Tobias lecturing Tris on making irresponsible decisions and being reckless, which is less of a lovers' spat and more of a chastisement. Not exactly romantic, but neither are the super dark times they live in, so.

Special Features: wow
The Divergent series introduces a society organized by factions. And it's awesome. There's Abnegation (the selfless), Erudite (the intelligent), Dauntless (the brave), and Candor (the honest). Everyone fits into one of these, or they’re chucked out of the system and have to live with the Factionless on the sketchy side of town. It's one of those cool dystopian novel tricks where something we see as completely normal (having many personality traits that conflict) is a disturbing anomaly - considered dangerous to society as a whole. At least, that's what Jeanine Matthews thinks. Granted, she's the absolute worst, so.
Parting Quote:
     “I also wanted to ask you if we can talk to the Erudite you’re keeping safe here,” I say. “I know they’re hidden, but I need access to them.”
     “And what do you intend to do?” [Johanna] says.
     “Shoot them,” I say, rolling my eyes.
Stress, fear, and adversity make even the sweetest characters into total jerkasses. I love it.