I don’t particularly like to review books. I feel like it will never matter what you think about a book because ultimately reading — like all manners in which we experience art — is deeply subjective. In other words, we like what we like and that is hard to change. That being true, I am going to review Insurgent because I want to talk about it and maybe you want to read about it.
Insurgent picks up where Divergent left off, quite literally. There is very little second book summarizing, making us responsible to remember what the hell happened at the end of the first book. I don’t mind this, but I think some people do. Most of the plot of Insurgent hinges on the conflict between the Erudite and Dauntless traitors and everyone else. This makes for a sightly disturbing war like environment where teenagers and adults are murdering each other. It also sets us up for the surprising possibility that this world we are in is not entirely what it seems. This is good, but reminds me a little of LOST. When you read it (and if you watched LOST) you may understand what I mean.
Insurgent is better than Divergent in a lot of ways, but it still left me wanting. I like Veronica Roth’s style, it’s clean and clear, and she has a real talent for writing fight scenes with great finesse. Tris, the narrator and main character, is a departure from most female voices. I like her, but I think she would be very difficult to be around. The real draw for me (and many other young women I know) is Tobias. He is an incredibly strong character, perfectly outlined and detailed, and totally sexy. I would read it again just to visualize him.
One of the tests with any piece of fiction is whether you can do anything else well while reading it. Insurgent is the kind of book you’ll set down, thinking you are ready to do something else, and then pick up again ten minutes later. The pacing is fast, the voice consistent, the story deeply compelling. There are problems, and Veronica Roth is the first to admit that, but there are so many truly clever things too that you really do overlook the shortcomings.
I recommend it, especially since writing about it is making me want to read it again. Get it if you don’t already have it. Swoon along with me, and be thankful for characters like Tobias and young writers like Veronica Roth.