Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Insurgent - a non-review with spoilerific commentary

Insurgent (Divergent #2)
Veronica Roth

544 pages

This isn't really a review--it's more of a commentary--and this is for everyone who has read the book. If you haven't read Insurgent, I would recommend not reading this post. I already have a spoilerless review of Insurgent up. Go read that instead of this or just skip to the end of this post (I kind of rant). You've been warned.

I'm not going to explain back story since I assume you've already read the book.

There be spoilers after this point.

I started Insurgent in the hopes of it being better than Divergent (since I wasn't a fan of it), unfortunately it left me with a bitter feeling. I enjoyed most of the action scenes and I thought the book was well-paced. However, there are a few things that bothered me.

I was mostly confused about how the government in Insurgent works. In the first book we have the faction system, and we have Erudite/Dauntless teaming up to wipe out Abnegation and take control. This--I thought--would lead to civil war. Instead the surviving Abnegation, the Dauntless who refuse to fight, and some Erudite run away to Amity where they are asked to leave so Amity doesn't have to fight. Candor also refuses to fight.

I didn't get this. Everyone refuses to fight. I thought the entire Abnegation ordeal was completely unforgivable and that everyone would team up and bitch smack Erudite/Dauntless. I guess me and Tris were wrong.

Along the way Peter joins Tris and Four. Four does nothing about Peter. Tris gets in a fight with him at one point. Why hasn't anyone shot and killed Peter? Didn't he stab a guy in the eye? Didn't he beat up Tris? Didn't he betray Dauntless? Why is he being allowed to wander around untouched? Veronica Roth's answer is BS: "because Peter owes them so he wants to repay the debt." I also don't take Veronica Roth's answer for why some people are the bad guys: "because they're just cruel."

We're then taken to a factionless safe house. The factionless have grown in size. This is part of the book where I smacked the side of my head. Dauntless had about four or five open spots in the first book, and about fifteen recruits. I was wondering if anyone else had noticed that there would be a lot of factionless in the city if this were true for all factions. Apparently so. Oh and there are more divergent among the factionless. Sure. Just how big is the population in this book? Sometimes it's referenced as being really small, at other times it's huge.

Also, there's a war on and the trains are still running? Who's running the trains? Why? Why aren't the trains being watched? Dauntless headquarters are abandoned so everyone goes back there. Why did they leave guns and armor and supplies at Dauntless? That doesn't make sense from a tactical standpoint since Dauntless is their military. There's not even one soldier guarding it: just a bunch of cameras that are easily taken down with paintball guns.

All of Abnegation gets wiped out in the first book. Later we're told that some of the Abnegation have returned home. HOW!? I thought they were all on the run or dead. How many survived? Sometimes it seems like a few, then it seems like a lot.

There comes a point when Tris realizes that being Divergent means having super-empathy of some kind. Why can't she think like Jeanine? Why does she have a hard time figuring out the motives of others? This doesn't make sense since super-empathy would mean understanding others perfectly.

I'm suppose to accept that being Divergent is rare but in this book half the population and half the main characters are Divergent? Then what's really rare--just to shake up the rules--is testing well for three factions (I feel like this was done just to keep Tris special). That doesn't make sense. In the first book no one knew what Divergent was, then all of a sudden we find out that people talk about them--openly tell stories to their children--about the Divergent. Later it's like everyone just found out. Which is it?

I did not understand the secondary characters. I kept getting Lynn and Christina confused. Who the heck were they? Who is Will and what did he do again (note: I had to look this up in the last book). Some back story would've been appreciated since it's been a year since I read the last book.

Peter saves Tris? All because he owes her on a debt? That isn't logical. It's so 80s action flick that it made my eyes burn.

There are a lot of plot holes here and a lot of cliches. A lot. I could go further into detail but then it'd be too long of a "review". Understand that I wanted to like this book, I really wanted to. I was all set to actually read the third book, plot holes be damned. Then I got to the ending. That ending... That ending destroyed the entire series for me. That ending--the revelation--was so bizarre, so campy, so overdone, that I had already thought that might be the case but dismissed it because who would write that?

While the ending explains how a ridiculous government and society formed--this also destroys the entire first book. This means that Tris is an experiment, the factions are an experiment, and that everything up to this point has been calculated (for the most part).

Here's my end blurb: The Divergent trilogy is now The Matrix of YA books. The fans will defend the book, but everyone will notice the plot holes, and everyone will defend it because of the special effects.

End spoilers.

To say that I had a few problems with Insurgent is to compare an ice cube to a glacier. To say that there aren't any plot holes in this book is an understatement. It caused a lot of frustration for me and I am seriously concerned that no one else has noticed these things, that no other review I've read has pointed these things out. That all I've gotten out of a majority of book bloggers is "Tris and Four! Guns! Four!"

If there is a negative review of this book please post it in the comments. Or tweet it at me. I want to read it. Because really, I can't be the only one, and because really, five stars everyone? Five stars?

But... to each their own. I ain't mad about it.


  1. I bemoaned the lack of backstory here too, and I got confused with some of the secondary characters. It was confusing. Roth explained the lack of backstory on her blog and wrote a big recap, but I agree, I would have liked it in the book. I only read Divergent a month ago, and I mixed up some of the characters, so I can imagine what it's going to be like for anyone who read the first book a year ago.

    1. Thank you for your honesty Leanne. I really appreciate it! Do you have a link to that bloc post?

    2. Here's the recap post:

      There's also a post on there regarding consistency errors in Insurgent.

    3. Thank you Leanna! I really appreciate it. I'm keeping my mouth shut on those posts, though.

  2. Wow. I read this whole thing - I told you I was going to. This is like an extremely rare case in which I don't care about the spoilers. I can't remember most of the characters and stuff you mention from the first book and it hasn't been as long for me reading it as it was for a lot of people. The whole time I'm reading this I'm thinking to myself that you are calling out holes all over the place. And then you actually say it, so there's my chuckle for today.

    I read somewhere that there was a big re-write between the ARC and the final release??? If that is the case, maybe that big marketing campaign was necessary, particularly if all of the holes are indeed there. Lots of speculation to be had in that arena...

    I've seen some reviews where people say they didn't love this book, but they aren't really negative. It takes guts to post a negative review about a book with this much hype and perhaps no one else has had any yet or maybe the people that didn't really like it aren't bloggers. Or maybe people didn't like Divergent and didn't want to read Insurgent. It's just not feasible that every single person has liked this book, so I feel certain that you're not a total oddball. Not even every person liked American Gods - because I was dumbfounded at the amount of negative reviews there were for that one. (That is not a comparison so no slaps, please!)

    Yay for non-review rants.

    1. Glad I could make you laugh.

      I had not heard that, I tend to avoid book news and go for the real news. I find it interesting that Veronica Roth knew that the back story/reminders for some characters had been cut enough that she had to post about it on her blog.

      Not everyone forces themselves through a book, either. So I probably am an odd person. no slaps, understood. I am not surprised by the negative amount of reviews for American Gods. It's highly acclaimed by professional critics and established bloggers: those Amazon reviews are wonky.

  3. Love love love it. You provide legitimate questions. Also, the only reason I remembered who Christina was, was because she was one of the minor characters that I really liked from Divergent. :) I'll most likely be reading the 3rd book just because I want to know how it ends. :) -S

    1. I couldn't remember quite a few people. Roth has said that it was an artistic decision and posted a recap on her blog (this doesn't help me at all at this point).

      If you're doing a series then you recap. It's not really an artistic decision, it's necessary. I'm glad you liked the book, but for me there was too much... choppiness.

  4. I agree completely. To be honest i'm surprised this was published, it was just so badly written. It was obviously going to be a good seller so i'm not surprised a sequel was published but this one, this version should have been rejected.

    I want to list everything I hated about this book but it gets me so very angry and I do not wish to do that to myself anymore. FYI my full Goodreads review is as follows:

    This was frankly a bit shit

    1. I am surprised that Veronica Roth admitted to it. I was very humbled at the fact that she posted on her blog about the book having "some editing" mistakes. Unfortunately I find those editing mistakes to be fairly major plot holes.

      I actually had some highlights on my Kindle that I was going to post but it was just too much.

      Here I am doing multiple posts and trying to explain to everyone why I didn't like it and you do it in five words.

  5. Thanks for this honest review! I'm embarrassed to admit that despite the plot holes that I saw, I also got caught up in the "Tris and Four! Guns! Four!" train.

    And I appreciate that Veronica Roth has admitted to some of her books errors. She even has decided on a later publishing date for book three, so that she can get the book right (hopefully). Actually, what scares me most about this author is that she doesn't outline or plan her series in advance, so I don't think SHE knows where she's going with it. Or at least that's the impression I've gotten from some of her posts. (Case in point: IMO, that's one reason why there's so many problems with the plot. She seems to be haphazardly building on what she's written before, without a firm knowledge of where everything is headed. I keep wondering, when she started Divergent, did she know that this was all an experiment? I prefer when a plot builds intelligently and thoughtfully throughout the entire series.

    I also agree with your thoughts on Peter. And can I say that I was so very upset with what happens with Caleb!!! Those are both instances where it felt like the author made a later decision about what a character would do - presumably because she needed to move the plot in a certain direction - without really considering who they are (or were in the previous book). Why can't Tris and Four have one living reliable family member between them?

    A bit off topic, but if you're interested, here's one blogger's take on the Insurgent marketing campaign - including a lot of angry follow-up comments:

    1. I had to wait just about all day to reply to you.

      I think it's acceptable to get caught up in some plot elements, but the book as a whole... is not great.

      I appreciate that she has owned up to her errors. That doesn't make them any less acceptable to me, though. I can agree that I think she wrote the first book with no idea on where to take it. Even the characters from the first book are nothing like the characters in the second one, so there's also that issue along with "where is the plot going".

      Glad you agree on those points. I can't accept Peter or Caleb as real characters anymore (not that I could to begin with). When their actions turned out to be based on... nothing and Roth just needed the plot to move forward in a convenient way, there they were. It was gut cringing for me to read it.

      Thank you for that link! I am reading as I write this... and wow.

  6. Where to begin??? I struggled through most of this book. I gave it 3 stars simply because it wasn't as bad as several I have given 2 stars. I was never fully engaged in the story. I often had to skim ahead just to see if this book was really going somewhere.

    Four was very harsh, emotionless, and lacked compassion. I couldn't stand how Tris was supposed to be one of the top members in her Dauntless initiation class, yet she was made out to be a pansy. Other Dauntless looked up to her based upon some of her actions in the past...but she was a weak character the majority of the book. Just grab a gun and protect yourself already. I really wish Tris and Four were a team in this book and not at odds and working against each other. It felt like Roth threw in a few make out scenes here and there just to keep the relationship together, but even those scenes were lacking the emotion we had in the first book.

    And what about Tris working with Marcus behind Four's back? Really?? There was no communication between Tris and Four. Who would secretly work with their boyfriend's abusive father and not discuss it with him first? There is a MAJOR problem with this.

    I agree...she needed to add more back story. I read book 1 a year ago and had only a vague idea who Will, Peter, and Edward were. I had NO clue who several of the female secondary characters were. I began figuring things out...but never at a sufficient level to fully understand their relationship to the story line. I had to reread a few scenes from Divergent just to figure out who some of these people were.

    The ending was odd. I have no idea where she is going to take it from there. I can only hope that the angst between Tris and Four is over. I will not be able to complete the final book if it is a repeat of Insurgent.

    1. Sorry it took me a few days to get back to you.

      Yes! Yes to all of these things! The characters from this book are completely different from the characters in the second book! There's no explanation give for this. They even forgive Peter several times and let him tag along? Peter even helps them escape? Peter is suppose to be evil and tried to kill Four and Tris at one point.


      Then the interactions between Tris and Four make no sense. Then there's everything else you touched upon. It drove me up an absolute wall.

      I think Veronica Roth wrote herself into a corner on this one and couldn't find her way out. Either way it was major disappointment. I look forward to reading your review on your blog.

  7. I will send you the link to the review when we post it. It says many of these same things...but written a bit more eloquently. (Well, hopefully that is the case.) Remove words like pansy and other nonsense that I tend to spout out off the top of my head in frustration. Of course I have to bring up a few good points...since it received more than 1 star. I also felt the need to give Veronica some suggestions for Tris's character in book 3. Not that she will read them...but it makes me feel better knowing they are out there.

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  12. I have been battling wether to read insurgent, because of its predictable nature. This book might blow the mind of a 15 year old who has only read YA novels.

  13. I do agree with quite a lot of what you've said, but I think some of what you've said about the odd plot details are a bit exaggerated. For example, Peter was Candor, and as far as I can see, Candor think of things as black or white, right or wrong, and I can imagine that 'keeping-track-of-who-you-are-in-debt-to' as being a Candor thing.
    Also, Christina and Will were Tris' 'best-friends'(?) in Divergent, so although I can understand that they weren't as 'used' as they could have been, I hardly think they were/are minor characters.
    However, it is nice to see someone commenting on the book without doing a review.

  14. I really don't agree with what your saying, but hey everyone has their on opinion. However I do have other issues. Obviously you haven't ever been in serious debt to someone because then you might understand why Peter did what he did. Another thing I find trouble some is that you kind of down on all the other readers who like Divergent. I think I'm a very good reader, and I didn't find any serious plot hole in the book, again I might be biased, but I feel slightly offended that you would think i'd just let huge plot holes slide like that. I feel you have viewed this book in a very narrow minded way. Oh and empathy does not mean understanding people perfectly, maybe if you had paid attention to the good parts of the book you would see how see tries to understand people. empathy just means you can feel what others are feeling it down NOT mean that you understand other perfectly. If you really think about it theres bound to be A LOT of factionless, everyone who does pass initiation is going there, and then they're going to have babies, and more babies, and so on an d so forth. As for Mrs. Roth not fallowing a outline .. . I know SEVERAL authors who don't follow an outline. Oh and have you ever been in an all out crazy war? There are going to be people who don't want to want to because they're scared. while I do agree that it was a little to easy to get into dauntless, it might have n=been used as a storage area? as a reader you have to make leaps, while this is a rather large leap, you can still figure it out yourself. Part of the reson there are more divergent being in factionless. they weren't raised the way everyone else is, so their brain isnt hardwired the same way so, duh, there are going to be divergent. I might be taking this a little to far, but I do feel insulted about being considered a bad reader because I like divergent. not everyone is going to like the book, but I feel you just kept harshing on the book with out given a second thought to the people who do like the book, this is a very narrow minded review

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