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Radiant Shadows

Insurgent (Divergent Series #2)

Insurgent (Divergent Series #2) - *As always, I try my best not to include any spoilers. But if you haven't read Divergent, you will find some spoilers for it in this review, and I found it was virtually impossible to review Insurgent without some minor spoilers for it.Before I can properly review Insurgent, I must point out the following:The first hurdle I had to overcome with Insurgent, and it was probably the biggest hurdle as it continued throughout the entire book, was that Insurgent picks up directly where Divergent left off. That means there is absolutely no recap, no reminder of who these characters are and why I should care about them or their current situation. I had read Roth's handy post But I read Divergent a YEAR Ago! prior to reading Insurgent, but while it mostly cleared up some of the confusion over who a character was, it didn't help me re-connect with any of the characters - which was something I remember having trouble with in Divergent anyways. I understand why Roth chose to withhold a recap, and a part of me even agrees with her, but it did make for some struggles throughout my reading experience when I was jolted out of the story as I found myself asking "who is this person again?".My lack of connection/inability to remember certain characters was also one of the reasons I had a harder time believing any of Tris' angst over Will's death. She kept referring to him as one of her best friend's from initiation, and I couldn't help but scratch my head and ask "Really? Were they that close in Divergent?" because I just couldn't remember their relationship being so important to Tris. Add in her grief over her parents' death, and Tris is a complete emotional wreck. So I started wondering if Roth was making Tris overemotional about both Will and her parents' deaths because she felt she had to overcompensate for her lack of emotional response - to pretty much anything - in Divergent. (For anyone who is unaware, Roth wrote about the mistakes author's often make, and specifically mentions that Tris' sexual assault in Divergent played no part in her character development - which was a mistake.) So it was with these feelings that I continued reading Insurgent.A huge, you might even say significant, change in Insurgent was it's focus. In Divergent, we bore witness to action scene after action scene, with Tris' romance with Four merely a side-plot that happened in the background, in-between action scenes. In Insurgent, those two roles have been completely flipped. Suddenly, Tris' relationship with Four...err, Tobias (because now that she knows his real name, it's an insult for her to call him Four?), has become front and centre, while everything else - the action scenes that were so crucial to Divergent's success, and the political turmoil and threat of war that loomed - have become the background, side-plot. Not what I was hoping for. Especially since Tris seems unable to open up to Four, so she spends much of her time worrying about their relationship and what Four will think if she does tell him the truth, and Four spends most of his time being emotionally unavailable and frankly, a jackass. Tris is the exact same person in Insurgent that she was in Divergent - she jumps head-first into any dangerous situation, without thinking through the consequences (at least, that's how I remember her). But suddenly, that type of reckless behaviour is a problem for Four, because he doesn't think Tris values her life. So instead of talking things out with her, he spends a lot of their time together yelling at her.Unfortunately, this goes on for the majority of the book. I do have to say that I'm glad that Roth realized her mistakes in Divergent, and was working on rectifying them in Insurgent, but I think she went about it in completely the wrong way. Tris has suddenly lost her spark, her zest for life. Everything she does is motivated by her "selflessness", the thought that if someone has to die, it should be her and no one else. Except...that's not why she's suddenly so selfless. She doesn't care about dying because she's given up; she doesn't care what happens to her because she no longer cares about her life. And I understand why she would have a dark period that she has to fight to rise out of. I just don't think it should have been the framework with which Roth built Insurgent. I kept hoping that Tris would realize the value in living, rise out of her slump, and we would get some action to complement all the angst. I'm sorry to say that it just didn't happen until it was too late.I'm not going to get in to how poorly I think the world-building in this series is, because I covered that in length in my review of Divergent. (Although I have to point out, Erudite wear glasses because they're intelligent? Really?!) I will point out that it didn't bother me so much in Insurgent. I'm not sure if it's because I had lower expectations going in, or because I knew the whole idea of factions was implausible so I was able to overlook/ignore it? I did find the plot had a few weak points/holes though. Like, how it was suggested that the Factionless would be of the utmost importance, only for them to make only minor appearances. Or how Tris was constantly turned to by her peers for advice or suggestions, only for someone else to remind us that she's barely sixteen. Or how Tris expresses pure hatred for Marcus and his treatment of Four, only for her to believe his claims over Four's adamance that he was lying. Or how Marcus knows the information contained in the file at Erudite headquarters, but is unwilling to share it with anyone and he still manages to convince people that it's worth recovering. And the ending! Ugh, the type of cliffhanger I hate: an entire book's worth of buildup, only to finally uncover the big secret just in time for the credits to roll.Since this entire review has been me complaining about Insurgent, and where I think it failed, surprisingly I still enjoyed it. While Tris' angst began to annoy me, I did find myself unable to put down my book until I had read just one more chapter, which led to just one more chapter, which led to me finishing the book in almost one setting. So while I found myself confused about some characters, annoyed with others and questioning their motives or choices, I also found myself intrigued about the consequences. I still wouldn't say that I am truly invested in any of these characters - Four could be killed within the first page of book 3 and I wouldn't be overly upset - but I am interested in seeing what happens to them. I care enough to continue their journey, to see where they end up. And I'm looking forward to seeing what's beyond the fence.