Insurgent, by Veronica Roth
This book is, for those who are not aware, the second volume of the Divergent series , and in many ways it deepens and continues the plot of the previous novel. There are some elements (namely the death of the protagonist’s father) that are going to have be handled differently in the movie adaptation of this novel (spoiler alert?) and it seems likely that the film will make Tris Prior a much more sympathetic character than the novel does. This is not necessarily a bad area for the film to differ from the book , not that the filmmakers need or desire my suggestions as they are likely to do what they want to do and what they think will increase their financial success, given the difference between what works well in a literary context and what works well in the context of a book, similar, it should be noted, to the way that the Hunger Games has been treated as a trilogy in its film adaptations, as it is pretty clear that there are a lot of similarities between the two.
Thankfully, one of those similarities is not a love triangle, since Tris seems to be focused on Four (alias Tobias) throughout this novel as well as the last one. This novel includes a lot more kissing and making out, and a lot of romantic tension in general between people, as well as the difficult matter of people having to forgive others for killing their partners or family members. In general, it may be said that there is a lot of death and a lot of fighting, a lot of planning and improvisation, and a lot of trust issues due to the large amounts of secrecy that is going on between people. People are injected with truth serum and various other kinds of chemicals depending on the location, and some of the characters (Tris in particular) show markedly different effects depending on the chemical used, being susceptible to some types of chemicals and not very susceptible for others. Additionally, and somewhat troubling, there appears to be little cohesion based on either romantic love, family bonds, or faction identity, leaving society dangerously atomistic and in the state of serious breakdown.
As a whole, this particular novel is rather episodic, with a lot of set piece scenes, a certain amount of paranoia, and a great deal of travel between different areas that were not explored in the first novel (Candor, Amity, and Factionless areas) as well as areas that were familiar like the areas of the Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless factions. Likewise, there is a lot of fighting and a large degree of ulterior motives and treachery of one type of another, largely because the Divergent have an importance that few realize, involving truth that is held only by a few that requires the trust and cooperation of unscrupulous people. This is a difficult novel to appreciate because of its murky morality as well as its general moral greyness, and also because Tris does not show herself to be sympathetic at all in the course of her action, showing a great deal of contradictory and irrational behavior. Also, the novel itself ends on a cliffhanger of sorts (that will not be too surprising to those who have both read the book and seen the movie), but in a way that seems to leave little to be done in the third novel. I guess I’ll have to read that novel to figure out if there is enough action to make it a compelling read.
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