The sequel continues from Divergent, picking up exactly where it left off – with Beatrice and the others on the train heading to the Amity compound. The Dauntless are scattered, and the remaining Abnegation have taken refuge in the Amity camp. Meanwhile the Factionless are planning a rebellion against the Erudite.
Most of the book, unfortunately, is about Beatrice and her guilt over killing a friend, sadness because of dead parents and fretfulness over her relationship with Four. Throughout the book she just worries over her relationship, or doing reckless, senseless things which put her in danger, which in turn puts a stress on her relationship… an irritating, vicious circle. Add to that a repetitive mix of thoughts, actions and words and you have instant intense dislike.
Beatrice and Four undergo a radical change – they’re not the same people. They do not behave as they did in the first book; it almost seems as if you’re reading different people. Four is an unpleasant boy who has an alarming number of mood swings – he’s not as mysterious, observant and intelligent as he seemed in the first book. Neither he nor Beatrice is likable as the main protagonists. Also, there is never anything to suggest why Beatrice is the protagonist. She’s not even likable.
The whole part where Beatrice and group spend time in the Amity faction was weak, pointless, where they’re just waiting around for something to happen. In fact the whole book is about waiting for something or the other, in every faction. First they go to Amity, get kicked out, then to the Factionless, where they find familiar faces, then to Candor, which again they leave, only to at last, return to Dauntless. And in between you only have the Tris-Four drama or Tris being selfless/responsible (NOT). The decision she makes to protect her loved ones was stupid, as it could not have achieved anything.
Throughout the book there is mention of a supposedly earth shattering secret that will shake the foundations of Beatrice’s city. The big reveal at the end was insufficient, predictable and anti – climactic. From the very beginning it was obvious what direction the mystery is taking. However, putting that aside, the handling of the secret itself is ridiculous.
Marcus, a man Tris and Four hate, suddenly comes to Tris for help at the end of the book. He wants her to retrieve important information from the Erudite HQ. When she asks what it is, he just repeatedly says that its secret, she’ll have to see it for herself and trust him. His insistence on how extremely secret and dangerous and just plain huge it is, without telling it, was laughable. I kept thinking I’m reading two five years olds have a conversation: “shh! It’s a super-secret – you can’t tell anyone!”
On top of that, she agrees to help him! Help a man she has no reason to trust, has no reason to believe is telling her the truth, over something she doesn’t know anything about, without proof! And it wasn’t even something he could not have told her, considering the original plan was to show it to the whole city, and because it wasn’t so ground breaking anyway (yet).
There is a complete lack of logic in the book, with random facts being turned into important revelations. Divergence is explained away by physical characteristics, which still don’t explain the complexity of human personalities, or how the people have chosen to be what they are. Nothing worthwhile happens until the last 50 pages which end in an anti-climax.
Some words and phrases are repeated so many times I felt like chucking the book across the room (not good). Especially when the phrases are meant to increase the intensity and seriousness of the thought expressed, but only achieve the opposite. Along with the repetition, the narrative was crudely simple at times, and not very mature. So many things make you go – What is that?
Example: First line of the book: “I wake with his name in my mouth.” [Seriously? “In my mouth”? ‘On my lips’ would’ve been better or even something about the mind. ]
The surprise betrayal was a successful shocker, especially since you don’t like it. But, so many actions that people take are explained away with pithy reasons. An entire faction commits crimes against humanity simply because their leader “was very persuasive”! Intelligent people, smart people question things; they shouldn’t be so easy to manipulate. And if they do follow a certain path, should at least have a more reasonable excuse other that the persuasiveness of a person!
A character’s sexual orientation is revealed as they die, making you question the way the author handled it. Liberality seems to have been thrown in for the sake of it, with no respect shown. Why bother emphasising on a character’s sexuality if you don’t properly develop them and their actions. Mentioning it at the end as the character dies seemed disparaging, cowardly and a last minute addition.
A lot of people have mentioned elements of Christianity in the text, since the author is a devout Christian, and I agree. Abnegation members are shown as religious, selfless, faultless do-gooders, while the Erudite can be seen as representatives of science and technology, as threats to religion. Every now and then, I did feel that the anti – intelligence/science vibes from the characters, especially Beatrice, were too strong and without reason.
Overall Insurgent lacks the entertainment which Divergent had going for it. The plot is ridiculous, the writing and explanations vague; the characterization is poor and underdeveloped with inconsistent changes.