Insurgent (Divergent, Book 2) Review
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With 2011’s Divergent, author Veronica Roth established herself—and her dystopian trilogy—as The Next Big Thing in young adult fiction. Now, with the follow-up, Insurgent, she once again takes her readers on a thrilling adventure through the Chicago of tomorrow.

As Insurgent opens, everything is up in the air for 16-year-old heroine Tris Prior and her boyfriend, Tobias. Their chosen faction, Dauntless, is now under the control of Jeanine Matthews and her Erudite followers. And as they seek refuge outside the city, Tris struggles with both grief after losing most of her family and guilt after killing one of her best friends while he was under the influence of the Erudites’ mind-controlling simulation.

It seems clear that war between the factions is imminent, and Tris has some tough decisions to make. Though Tobias is convinced that his father, Marcus, is nothing but a liar, Tris believes him when he says that the Abnegation leaders—including her parents—died in an attempt to reveal important information that Jeanine wants to keep hidden. But if she chooses to work with Marcus, Tris fears that she’ll lose the relationship that she has with Tobias.

If it’s been a while since you read Divergent (and even if it hasn’t), you’ll want to take a few minutes to refresh your memory before picking up the sequel—because Roth doesn’t waste any time reviewing the past before she dives right into Tris’s next adventure. For that reason, Insurgent can be a bit disorienting at first—since you’ll find yourself thrown right into the middle of the action. And don’t expect a chance to catch your breath anytime soon—because, from the opening drama to the final revelation, the pacing never really slows down.

The rest of the book, then, is a whirlwind of secrets and surprises. In times of war, you can never really tell who’s trustworthy—whose loyalties lie where—and that’s definitely the case here, as the five factions begin choosing sides. Tris finds help in unlikely places, and she’s betrayed by those she least suspects. And as she and her friends travel from one place to another, trying to find some kind of safety as they plan their next steps, the suspense continues to build.

At the same time, Tris continues to grow and evolve as a character. Though most of the first book focused on her decision to join Dauntless and her subsequent training, the second book finds her outside the stability of her chosen faction, learning to embrace her true Divergent identity. Like the Dauntless, she’s brave. Like the Abnegation, she’s selfless. Like the Erudite, she’s smart. And although she struggles with her grief and guilt throughout the book, she also learns to become stronger—to trust her own instincts.

Meanwhile, as I’d hoped, some of my complaints about the first book have been remedied in the follow-up. The romance between Tris and Tobias—while still rather teen-angsty—doesn’t distract from the story as much as it did before. And while the book still leaves plenty of questions unanswered (this is, after all, a trilogy—so Roth needs to save something for the story’s conclusion), the end of the book begins to give the story a little more context.

With its strong young characters and a fast-paced story that’s loaded with unexpected twists, Insurgent once again proves Roth deserving of her loyal (and growing) fan base. Pick up a copy, and you won’t be disappointed. And, once you finish reading the last few pages, you’ll be anxious to find out more about the city’s past—and the characters’ future.

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