Saturday, December 22, 2012

Book Review: Insurgent


I literally spent ~6 hours straight today reading Insurgent cover-to-cover. Was it because it was that exciting? Sadly, no, but I'd put it off for so long already and felt like I needed to just get it over with. There were some gripping moments and a wonderful concluding arc that got me very excited for the next book, but as a whole I just didn't feel quite as drawn-in as I did with Divergent.

In Insurgent, we start-off immediately after the events of Divergent. The beginning, however, is actually quite slow, in that nothing ground-breaking occurs and it takes a while to get things moving. Following that, we have a series of mini-arcs that result in our main character traveling to the other factions and giving us glimpses of the people and lives of each of them. We're reunited with almost all the characters from Divergent, which I was pleased with since I like almost all of them.

While reading though, I definitely felt a similar vein of frustration as I did for Mockingjay. In fact, the story and characters here are almost tiringly similar to those in that book. We get a corrupt world in rebellion, plots to overthrow the existing government, continual travel district-to-district (or rather faction-to-faction), AND a suicidal heroine, at least for most of it. Seriously, Tris made me want to punch her multiple times in this, not quite as badly as Katniss did, but very close. The romance was also flat as aired soda despite the abundance of make-out scenes, because I just wasn't feeling the chemistry between her and Tobias anymore. Their relationship feels strained and dull in its predictability, and honestly made me almost wish they hadn't gotten together already.

The redeeming quality does finally come in the last hundred pages or so, once Tris regains her spine and makes a (slightly illogical) decision to pursue something that a man she doesn't trust suggests. I feel like this choice didn't make any sense given her frustrating dull-headedness up to that point, but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume it has something to do with her embracing her Erudite qualities. And yes, I think Erudite Tris is my favorite version of her so far. Coolly logical characters generally appeal more to me, at least in book form where we usually can figure things out 100 pages before the character does.

This was actually another one of my frustrations with the book - it's predictability. I could see things coming almost a mile away, which for a fantasy-discovery story ends up taking away almost all the fun. I think the author dropped too many hints, because literally she'd put these OBVIOUS lines into Tris' train of thought, like "Hmmmm....Why did this guy do this?" or "This bothered me for X reason" but then follow-up with something like "I decided not to think about it." I literally wanted to scream every time this occurred, because it was like seriously, don't be an idiot, you know this is important, why are you dropping this? How many more pages do I have to read before your stupid brain picks it up??? That's probably my biggest pet peeve with novels, and I rarely have the patience to follow slow-brained characters that take ages to see what's right in front of them (or at least right in front of the reader).

Although the end twist is still somewhat predictable, it was quite vague and interesting enough that I'm excited to see where the author takes it. Hopefully somewhere good and drastic, so that we can finally move on past this over-extended factions-battle plot. I do believe that I'll at least like Tris better from this point on, and am willing to overlook the first ~400 pages of mind-numbingly horrible character decisions made in this book. I will also say this book has some pretty cool side characters, which almost overshadow Tris and definitely overshadow the now dull-as-bones, lecture-centric Tobias.

Looking forward to the next "-gent" book. What do you guys think it'll be called (I haven't checked any news on it)? Maybe Emergent? Exigent? Not many suitable choices unless she gets rid of the g, ha. I predict it will have Candor's logo on the cover, since both Erudite and Abnegation are too important to be relegated to middle-book status. I still believe this will be a 5 or even 6-book series given all the set-up and cover designs, and am pretty sure Abnegation will be the final cover. Obvious, really. I kind of hope the author ends it sooner rather than later though, as too much of anything can become wearisome, and I don't think I've ever followed a narrative story for more than 4 books. And publishing based on the number of faction-covers you have is probably a terrible idea. We'll see!

*Potential spoilers*

One thing I did realize in this book is that one of the key questions it explores is what defines a person - your genetics, or your environment? The three factions Tris is divergent in are: Dauntless (from her mother), Erudite (father), and Abnegation (environment she was raised in). Thus, it's clearly a mix of what she inherited and what she picked up. Anyways, just thought that was interesting.

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