Warning: This review contains spoilers of its prequel Divergent. If you haven't read Divergent yet, get right on that bro.
Insurgent kicks off right where Divergent ended with Tris and Four leaving the life they knew in the horrifying aftermath of the simulation attack that left hundreds dead including her parents. Tris and Four aren’t alone as they ride the train to seek refuge in the Amity faction: her brother Caleb, Peter, the rival who tried to kill Tris, and Marcus, Four’s estranged, abusive father have also escaped the Dauntless compound. Right from the beginning, this is not a happy camp. Everyone has a secret, especially Tris who is desperately hiding the fact that she was forced to kill one of her best friends during the attack. The group knows that Amity can only offer them temporarily sanctuary, if that, but they cannot comprehend the lengths that the Erudite will go to, to find and capture them. Or the reason why.
Much of this book lacks the pace and action of its prequel; lagging in the start as Tris is crushed by her guilt and grief and then limping along in the middle as the characters try to understand with little success what is actually happening to them. Tris is self-pitying, despondent and emotionally unstable in the first three-quarters of the book, behaviour that is very unlike Tris and very much like her popular contemporaries Katniss and Belle. This was disappointing, given the explosive nature of Divergent, but not entirely unexpected given the traumatic events of Divergent and that Insurgent is the second, ‘bridging’ book of the trilogy.
The clever ending makes up for the long wait for things to get really interesting and it will leave fans dying to know how it ends in the last, as-yet-untitled book of the series, due for release in Spring 2013. It was also fascinating to see how the other factions (including the faction-less) live, observe their customs and religions, and meet some of their members. The concept of Divergence and how it might work is also explored while we discover that there are some surprise secretly Divergent characters who have been living in the same constant fear of exposure as Tris all along.
One shouldn’t go into Insurgent expecting another Divergent: everything has changed, especially Tris. But if readers can push through the first half of Insurgent, it certainly ramps up substantially in the last quarter of the book and all the secrets that are uncovered ensure that many more changes are in store for everyone – Divergent or not – in the next installment of the series. Highly recommended.