Monday, August 8, 2016

Review - Insurgent

Original Title: Insurgent
Series: Divergent, #2
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: May 1st, 2012

Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books


Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to paraphrase myself. 

NEVER judge a book by its movie. Ever. Especially with this one.

I liked it more than I thought I would. Definitely, there’s is more about this saga than what the movies show, and we can’t take them as reference for the books, because they are not the same. In Insurgent, we find a new set of characters, as well as those we already know from the first book. After the disaster Dauntless caused, manipulated by Erudite, Tris, her friends, and part of the Abnegation and Erudite factions need to flee in order to avoid capture, finding a refuge in the Amity farms, outside the fence that isolates Chicago from the rest of the world. And things only go from bad to worse.

Surprisingly, I discovered that I like Tris. At first I thought I would hate her, that I wouldn’t be able to swallow her as narrator, but I actually like her. She’s no mild, lame heroine, but a strong, honest, selfless, and brave one. She doesn’t wait for things to happen, or solve themselves. If she wants somethings, she goes and makes it happen (like any self-respecting Dauntless, for that matter). Life only gets more complicated for her, and if she were another type of heroine, I would probably be here criticizing the fact that she mentions how guilty she feels –over Will’s death, and teaming up with Marcus, Tobias’ abusive father– too many times, but then I think, she’s only sixteen years old, and only one month has passed since the events in the previous books. She’s still a girl, and, given all this, she needs to grow up quickly, so I excuse her. Still, she clings to the hard-won freedom she found in Dauntless –the faction she still considers hers–, and I like that she’s so very determined; once she made her mind, nothing can dissuade her. She doesn’t want anyone to suffer in her place, and when Jeanine threatens to use her friends as puppets and force them to kill themselves if at least one of the Divergents doesn’t appear on Erudite, she is the first one stepping forward, ready to save her friends, the people that has become her family.

The only thing about her that kept me rolling my eyes was her relationship with Tobias. In the first book, there was actually feelings there, if not very well written, but you could tell why they fell in love. But here, even when there was some character evolution, I got tired of them fighting over and over again, over the secrets they weren’t telling to each other. All the time arguing about this or that thing they hid or didn’t mention, never agreeing on anything, except on their physical attraction, of course, something that makes Tris sneak into his bedroom more than once, in a couple of pointless scenes, except one (when he makes her promise she won’t turn herself in the Erudite headquarters, and she lies, doing it anyway). They kiss a lot, but there’s not much written around their feelings. Thankfully, the whole story has other pillars sustaining it, because if it depended entirely on the love story, there wouldn’t be much there to keep the whole thing going (and interesting).

Something I really liked about this book is that we get to know more about the other factions. I was curious about them, about how their customs were, and their initiations, and luckily, here we get more insight. I even grew a bit fond of the Amity faction, they seem to have a really peaceful lifestyle, with their apple orchards, their farms, and their no-conflict life philosophy. And on the other hand, we have Candor, the truth-seeking faction. Their occupation is a bit scary, especially the initiation process, because they force you to spill out your secrets, after the injection of a serum, so you have nothing to hide, and hence, no reason to lie. I wouldn’t have picked that faction for the world, and I support Christina on this one; some things must remain hidden. 

As I wanted when I finished the first book, here in Insurgent we get to know more about Jeanine (if only a little), whose part as the villain mastermind continues. She’s fascinating, in the way she’s more a machine than a human being. She’s scary because of her Erudite mind, as she can both command an army from a computer (previously dominated by a serum and being used as puppets, not being aware of their actions), and use cruel, almost-torture methods in the name of scientific research. She’s scared of those things she can’t control and/or frame in a scientific explanation. She’s driven mad by Tris’ divergent nature, and I shared her satisfaction when she realized she broke her, and her only solution for her to stop being a problem was getting rid of her. I love a hero/heroine when only death can stop them, and only with a syringe they can stop them from fighting back, tooth and nail. As for Jeanine’s death, I was expecting it would happen as I saw it in the movie, when actually, the whole scene is completely different, and I never saw it coming. Tori turned out to be fiercer than I thought, and though she made a mistake branding Tris as a traitor, after all ended up doing what Jeanine wanted: killing her, and thus eliminating the only person who knew how to handle the computer containing the secret Abnegation sought to protect and reveal at the right moment. Her death was a lot more bloody and cruel than I thought it would be, and somehow I felt sorry to see her gone, because she was intelligent and rational, but also a bit mad, and she made a great villain.

And if we are talking about villains, I hated Caleb on this one. My God, he really swallowed that “faction before blood” thing. Influenced or not by Jeanine, I was so mad at him for being a traitor and doing that to his own sister! I was sympathetic with him when he left Abnegation for Erudite (I would have left that gray faction too), but this is just unforgivable. He calls himself an Erudite but he doesn’t have much of a brain. As I read once, intelligence is not the same as wisdom. He maybe smart, but he knows nothing about the bonds of love and friendship, and doesn’t see that the whole faction system isn’t right. However, the Erudite people are still nice and funny (when they are not in Jeanine’s team, as the ones living with the Amity faction), so Caleb is just an idiot and a traitor. 

And on the other hand, we have Evelyn, Tobias’ estranged mother, until then considered dead. She left Abnegation when Tobias was still very young, and has been living among the factionless (who, by the way, are so many that practically make their own faction), eventually becoming their leader. I don’t know if I should consider her a villain. She’s definitely strong, and bold. She did a risky move after taking over the Erudite headquarters, depriving their allies from their weapons, and I think that she reflects the true potential of the factionless group: underestimated, mistreated, but capable of great strength, unity, and loyalty towards a common goal. She wants to put an end to the faction system that left them out of society, and create a whole new city where everyone can live without the pressure of belonging here or there, or, in their case, being social outcasts. I think that she has a lot of potential as a character, and knowing about her past was really interesting, so I hope there’s more development ahead.

And the ending!! That cliffhanger was just mean!! Now, I just need to know more. It’s not an option. The sole mention of the Prior last name there made my jaw drop, I just can’t... I don’t... AH!!! I never thought I would like this saga, but it is great, and I definitely recommend it if you like dystopian books. Do not let the movies convince you, especially the one based on this book. That phrase we use so much, you know, “the book was better”, is here truer than ever. Give it a chance, it is a pleasant surprise!


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