Last month, I reviewed the first book in this trilogy by Veronica Roth, Divergent. And I wasn’t quite taken with it. It moved a little too slowly (i.e. not that much action happens, or at least, not the kind of action I was hoping for), it felt a little to Hunger Games-ish and the characters felt very… cardboard cut-out. As Insurgent was already out, I decided to give the series a second chance with the second book, and holy hell hoppers, I’m glad I did!
Unlike The Hunger Games (which I loved, by the way), the Divergent trilogy feels like it was planned as a three-parter all along. One of the criticisms that’s often leveled at The Hunger Games (and that I agree with), is that it felt like the first book was a stand alone. When massive success hit, they tacked on two more. I haven’t researched the series, so maybe that’s not true, but it the progression over the books didn’t feel organic. But the way Divergent flowed into Insurgent feels… natural. The slower pace of the first book makes sense now, it was laying the foundations for the much more complex world and action that was to follow. Without the constructions of the first book, Insurgent would have been a lot harder to write.
The rest of this review will be a bit SPOILERY if you haven’t read Divergent, so, uh, yeah. You’ve been warned.
Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off – the world is in chaos after the Dauntless attack on Abnegation. The simulation is over, Tris’s parents are dead and she’s on the run with Caleb, Marcus, Peter and Tobias. They’re headed to Amity head quarters, where they hope to find either refuge or help.
The book picks up pace from there and there’s quite a lot of development of Tris’s character. She becomes more complex and reacts in a really believable way to what’s happened to her (and what she’s done) in the previous book. Her relationship with Tobias becomes increasingly tricky and, maybe it’s just me, but my warm fuzzies for Tobias become increasingly less moss like and more cold and scratchy, like steel wool after you’ve scrubbed a particularly greasy pot.
It’s a good read – especially if you’re into YA and dystopian fiction. There’s a few twists that caught me by surprise and when I was away from the book, I just wanted to be back in it.
The third book in the series, Allegiant, is scheduled for release on 22 October this year (EXCITE BIKE!).
A little word on the casting of the film-of-the-book for Divergent: The filming of the book is nearing completion and the movie’s due to be released in 2014. Cast in the role of hero Tris Prior is Shailene Woodley (of The Secret Life of the American Teenager fame). But I just don’t buy her as Tris. Maybe it’s my own prejudices, but she just doesn’t have enough of an edge to pull off the part. Sure, maybe in book one, before we see Tris really come into her own and battle through things, but in the second book, Tris is a pretty dark role. I don’t know, or at least I haven’t seen Shailene do it yet, if she has the meat and substance as an actress to really do the character justice.
As for the casting of Tobias, I’ve never seen this Theo James chap act, so I wait and see. There’s the obvious star-casting to attract funding (Ashley Judd, Kate Winslet) and the cool kid factor of Zoe Kravitz. I suppose we just have to wait and see. Hopefully a trailer will give me a better feel for the movie.
Divergent review (if you missed the earlier linkage) is here.
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