Friday, 8 June 2012

Insurgent (Book Review)

It's been a while since I did a book review. The last one I wrote was for a book called Divergent, a YA dystopian about a future where the city of Chicago is split into several ideology-based factions. That was five months ago. So it's highly coincidental that the next book I was to review was its much anticipated sequel, Insurgent.

Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off, with Tris, Four and others struggling to come to terms with the aftermath of the Dauntless invasion on the Abnegation sector. They start by taking shelter with the Amity, who live just outside the fence surrounding the city. But their stay is short-lived when the Amity headquarters is stormed by Dauntless traitors (those still on the side of the Erudite, the faction responsible for all the atrocities from the previous book).

The bulk of the story is spent travelling from one faction to another, as Tris and Four try to elude capture and at the same time garner the support needed to foil the plans of the Erudite leader, the villainous Jeanine Mathews. Jeanine seeks to control all the other factions, and the only ones standing in the way of her plans are the Divergent, those who are immune to the various mind-controlling simulation serums developed by the Erudite.

We get to meet other key players along the way, like the various faction leaders. The most important though is a woman named Evelyn Eaton, leader of the Factionless, who is seeking the complete abolition of the factions. It quickly becomes apparent that the Factionless hold more power than was previously thought and could very well determine the outcome of the forthcoming civil war. But that was hardly ever a surprise to begin with.

I think my main problem with Insurgent was the presence of too many side characters, most of whom didn't contribute much to the development of the plot. I know there are so many books out there with countless side characters, like those in the Harry Potter series for instance. But some of the ones here are so forgettable that you end up mixing one up for the other.

Then there were quite a number of logic-defying encounters, none of which I can reveal for fear of ruining the book for those of you yet to read it. I'll just say that the Dauntless traitors guarding the Erudite headquarters are quite possibly the most incompetent security force in the realm of fiction. The end result of these problems was a book that felt padded out and much longer than it really was.

On the plus side, Veronica Roth somehow managed to answer all the questions I'd raised at the end of my Divergent review, while giving us a better understanding of the book's main character(s). Let's hope the as-yet-unnamed final book in the series brings the trilogy to a satisfactory close.


  1. Too many side characters can be confusing if you're not sure which are important. Sounds like a smooth book though.
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

    1. Precisely. I feel a story is better served by having a few, strong side characters than having a legion of forgettable ones. That said, the important characters were very well-written with clear-cut goals and motivations.

  2. The last YA literature I read was the first two Hunger Games books, and that was a few years ago now.

    1. Coincidentally, The Hunger Games series were the last YA books I read as well, although this was mere months ago. I wasn't too keen on Catching Fire, but I loved the first and last books in the trilogy.

  3. Hi Michael I wanted to say hello. I am looking for new interesting blogger friends and you seem like a very special choice :). Kisses and happy writing.

  4. I still haven't had the chance to read Divergent, but I need to. I do agree on not having too many side characters. If I'm having to puzzle out who someone is each time they come up, it's too much.