Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Veronica Roth's Insurgent: A Book Review

Insurgent, Veronica Roth’s second offering of the post-apocalyptic Chicago run by factions picks up moments after the cliffhanger ending of Divergent. The problem with the text, almost from inception, is that the series attempts to mimic the recent success of texts in the genre (think Hunger Games here) by becoming a trilogy. While the rise of Tris and the secret of her Divergent nature kept the pages turning in the first installment, barely anything keeps you moving through this one. She comes out, reveals herself, and is suddenly not that scary as others stand at her side and display the same characteristics.

Tris is hurt—she was shot during the simulation attack on Abnegation—and Roth reminds us of this fact nearly every page, along with the fact that she is divergent, that Erudite wants divergents, wants power, wants control, and has a secret. The Erudites are intelligent, they wear glasses for style, the Amenity are happy, etc. We are reminded of these facts as often as Roth needs to fill up a few extra pages to keep the publisher happy.

Yet, as we read along, the answers are strung out.  Roth, for whatever reason, takes an age to give them to you. As we bother Marcus again and again, asking the deposed city leader what his secret information is, one cannot help but think about Bella fawning over Edward in the Twilight series. We wait, the conceit is about making the book long more than tight knit. Thus Tris visits every facet of the city—holing up with each faction (including her own and the factionless) as she works to unwittingly instill societal change at the tender age of sixteen. As messiah, she is destined to save us all, but we don’t know why and after a while I stop caring why.

She reminds us of her love for Tobias, and despite having reflected on the hot and heavy moments many times in the first installment, Roth digs into the romance novel cheese with each and every teenage snog session. Perhaps this is what the teenage mind wants, but even when Tris selflessly sacrifices herself to Erudite, one knows Tobias will appear, her savior will lay a wet one on her, and she will drop a gun do to PTSD style trauma while uttering complaints about shoulder pain. At times one feels like we are watching reruns of Dawson’s Creek on the WB instead of reading an attempt at literature as Roth returns to these common plot motifs time and time again, and in the end a predictable socialist revolution takes place—the poor and the oppressed, the workers, the factionless take over and lead the city further down the chaotic rabbit hole. Already you can see that the end is near for Tris, she is doomed to die, to suffer at her young age, a martyr to the idea that humans can be more than overly selfish creates through divergence.  

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