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Veronica Roth – Insurgent

July 18, 2012

73. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (2012)
Divergent Trilogy, book 2

Read my review of book:
1. Divergent

Read By: Emma Galvin
Length: 11h 22min (525 pages)

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian Science Fiction

Started: 21 June 2012
Finished: 03 July 2012

Where did it come from? From HarperChildren’s Audio for review.
Why do I have it? I tore through Divergent last summer, and was excited for more.

The faction system
is falling apart, but should
Tris try to save it?

Summary: After witnessing the brutal murders of her family – and most of the rest of the Abnegation faction – masterminded by the Erudite faction, Tris is still reeling. She, Tobias, and a few other of the Dauntless are headed out to the Amity faction’s headquarters, where they hope to lay low while they figure out what to do next. But every faction has its own agenda, and it soon becomes clear that the Erudite, led by Jeanine Matthews, are not going to leave any loose ends; they know that the Divergent are resistant to their mind-control simulations, and they’re determined to understand why and fix the problem. Tris wants to stop them, but she’s got enough aptitude for Erudite to understand that information is powerful, and if she really wants to fix things, she’ll have to figure out to what faction – and to which people – her loyalties really belong.

Review: Oh, I wanted to like this one. I really, really did. I tore through Divergent last summer in less than a day, thought it was a blast, and was hoping to repeat the experience. However, because I opted to listen to the second book, rather than read it in print form, the “tear through it” strategy wasn’t really an option, and it turns out that books that make super-compelling, super-quick reads don’t necessarily fare so well when stretched out at a read-aloud pace.

Part of my problem was that the slower pace meant that I had more time to think about – and pick apart – details of Roth’s story that I would have glossed over if I’d been reading at speed. In my review for Divergent, I said “I don’t need my dystopias to be likely (I’d rather they weren’t, actually), but I do need them to be plausible, and the five-faction system of Divergent just seemed a little silly when I stopped to think about it.” This explanation didn’t appear in Insurgent (although I do still believe it’s coming in the third book), and because I was listening at audiobook pace, I had plenty of time to think about and get annoyed by just how silly it was.

I also had a problem with the secondary characters. I didn’t find any characters other than Tris and Four to be particularly multidimensional in the first book, and while that was okay when I was just focusing on Tris’s journey, it becomes more problematic as the sheer numbers of those secondary characters multiplies in this installment. It felt like Insurgent had a ton of characters, and that Roth expects readers to keep their allegiences, histories, and motivations straight even when they only crop up for a page or two out of every few hundred. I may have been less confused if I had been reading straight through, but with a half-hour here and there of listening time, it was pretty hopeless. The plot also takes several sharp turns throughout, meaning that if I didn’t catch the one critical detail, I could wind up completely lost on how we’d gotten from A to B.

However, taking all of that into consideration, I still can’t really say whether or not this is any better or worse than Divergent was. I thought Divergent was a ton of fun, while I found Insurgent intensely frustrating, but my reasons for that difference are so bound up in my reading vs. listening experience that I can’t really comment about the text or the prose or the story itself. Really, what I should do is re-read Insurgent in paper format and see how it stacks up, but my experience with the audiobook hasn’t left me with much motivation to go do so. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Roth doesn’t really summarize much from Divergent, so they really need to be read in order. Beyond that, I can’t really recommend them or not, but I can say that personally, I think I need to avoid listening to books that are the literary equivalent of popcorn movies: fast, action-packed, and meant to be devoured in a single afternoon rather than over a few weeks.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 18, 2012 7:41 am

    Well, your review makes me feel better about not reading this series.

    • July 20, 2012 9:52 am

      Kathy – Yeah, even leaving alone my problems with this installment, I don’t think this series is really up your alley.

  2. July 18, 2012 11:19 am

    That’s too bad this was a disappointment. I have heard a lot about these books but haven’t picked them up myself.

    • July 20, 2012 9:52 am

      Kailana – I thought the first one was a ton of fun, and most reviews I’ve seen of this one have said the same, so I really do wonder if my crankiness is just due to the fact that I had to read this one at the narrator’s pace.

  3. July 19, 2012 9:46 pm

    I think that’s a very interesting point you make about the reading format influencing how you felt about this book. I really enjoyed reading Divergent, and my only problems were, similarly to you, with the setting which seemed a bit silly. I too was hoping for some more explanations in the next book, so I am a bit disappointed to read there weren’t any. Were there at least a few more mentions of what was happening elsewhere in the country or in the world?

    • July 20, 2012 9:54 am

      kay – The world outside Chicago is only mentioned peripherally in this book, but the good news is that it’s very clear that the explanation of How Things Got To Be This Way is going to be a major plot point in the third book.

  4. July 24, 2012 2:01 pm

    I just thought this one was okay. I kept thinking maybe parts of the plot were simulations/not real, and in that case I think it would have made it more interesting. But things turned out to be real (as far as we know anyway) and certain aspects (like the escape) just seemed too easy. I definitely didn’t like it as much as Divergent.

    • August 8, 2012 7:10 pm

      Alyce – It’s good to hear that it’s not just me. (Or not entirely, anyways.) Most of the reviews I’ve seen are absolutely glowing, making me wonder if I’d read a completely different book.


  1. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Divergent #2) « arlasworld

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