May 28, 2012

Book Review: Insurgent (Book II of the Divergent Trilogy)

I finished Insurgent - a 544 page book - in two days.  
That means I read over 250 pages a day.  

(No, I didn't just sit on the couch all day.  I still taught yoga, I still cooked, I still played with Lola, and I still talked to my husband.  But when I wasn't doing one of those four things, I read.)

And, to answer your question, YES, it was that good.

In case I haven't succeeded in peaking your interest quite enough, and you're wondering what Insurgent is all about, here is a brief description:
One choice can transform you - or it can destroy you.  But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves - and herself - while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love. 
Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors.  War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows.  And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable - and even more powerful.  Transformed by her own decisions, but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so. 
New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

First things first, I realize that this is ANOTHER dystopian novel.  I know, I know, you probably think that is all that I read, but really, it's not.  Right now, for instance, I am reading a historical fiction novel and loving it.  But that's besides the point.  My point is that yes, this is a dystopian novel, but don't discount it just because you think that you don't like this genre, or you think that all of the novels in this genre are essentially the same.  Trust me, they aren't.  They are as unique to one another as coffee is to marinara sauce (that's my very awkward way of saying that,  although they are all books, they have totally different flavors).  Take for instance, the author's explanation as to why she connects to the dystopian field of writing:
[There are times when] everything seems like the end of the world, and I don't think that's necessarily a silly thing.  You're waking up and becoming aware that the worlds has problems and those problems affect you, whereas when you're [a child] they don't seem to affect you that much even if you're aware of them.  This dystopian trend picks up on that little part of your life where everything feels really extreme and it honors that part of your life by saying, "Yeah. It is the end of the world.  Let's look at it."
Just to catch you up, I read Divergent (the first book in Roth's trilogy) last May.  Quite unexpectedly, I fell totally in love with the book by page five.  Similar to my experience with Insurgent, I read the 500+ page novel in a couple of days.  And then, I had to wait over 11 months for Insurgent to be released.  The wait was more than worth it (as you will see in this review), but now I am stuck waiting another 12+ months for the final installment of the trilogy to be released.

But wait...
...let me back up...
...I'm getting ahead of myself.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term "insurgent" means:

  • (noun): a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government; especially: a rebel not recognized as a belligerent

Tris is the quintessential insurgent.  First - and foremost for me as a reader - she is conflicted about the necessity of violence, and sometimes death, in times of societal rebellion.  In turn, Tris shuts off a large part of herself in an attempt to protect herself from future pain.  I understand that "gut reaction" sort of response because it is something that I, myself, do in times of extreme emotional stress.  On the other hand, Tris is resilient, honest to a fault, and frequently stubborn.  Although sometimes misdirected, her intentions are always pure.  As a female reader, I can relate to both Tris' sacrificial intentions and imperfections.  In this way, I feel a stronger connection to characters such a Tris and Katniss (from the Hunger Games), than say a character like Bella from Twilight (To all you Twilight devotees, don't get your panties in a twist, I am still as loyal a Twlight fan as ever!).

I recently read an interview with Divergent/Insurgent's author Veronica Roth.  In that interview, Roth is asked how her personal adolescent experience informed her writing of the trilogy.  Her response really hit home for me, and perhaps indicates why I am able to connect with the world she has created in her books:
As a teenager, I put a lot of pressure on myself, and a lot of that, for me, was about finding a moral high ground.  As I've grown up, I've decided to abandon that because it made me judgmental and also stressed me out.  There's really no way to be perfect.  Perfectionism is a silly trait to have, so in a lot of ways that inspired the world of "Divergent," in which everyone is striving toward that ideal and falling short of it.  Tris is a character who experiences that stress about, "Am I doing the right thing? I always have to do the right thing.  If I don't, what am I worth?"
Take that Perfection.  You have just been unceremoniously throw out of the window!

Insurgent left me flabbergasted!  

In the final two pages of the book there is a HUGE twist!  I knew that something was brewing throughout the book, but I would never have guessed what it was.

My jaw literally dropped when I read the last page.  
So I read it again.  
And then I read it a third time, just to make sure I had read it correctly the first two times.  

Don't get me wrong, I liked the twist.  It is a little crazy...certainly out-there...but it should make for a very interesting conclusion to the trilogy.  Unfortunately, I will have to wait over a year to see how it all shakes out.  Darn those trilogies and series!  Between:

you think I would have learned my lesson by now, right?!  I guess I am more stubborn and like Tris than I realized...

Question of the Day:

What is your favorite genre of books to read (i.e. fiction, nonfiction, history/historical fiction, self-help, spiritual, wellness, young adult literature)?!

Also, if you have read any F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C. books recently tell me about them in the "Comments" below.  I am always looking for a great new book to read!

Ally and Bo

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