Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Chaos, Anarchy, Mayhem–not a bad read

“Insurgent,” he says. “Noun.  A person who acts in opposition to the established authority, who is not necessarily regarded as a belligerent.”

So says Fernando, a character who lived just long enough to insert the meaning of the book’s title. Insurgent is the second installment of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. It weighs in at 525 pages (YA style, meaning slightly larger print).  And the verdict?  I like the first book better.

Second books in a series are tough.  There is an expectation of sorts, especially if the first one grabbed our attention, like Divergent did mine.  I think I read it in a couple of days and it too was thick.  This one took me a week–admittedly, I am in the middle of grading end-of-the year papers, but if I’m really into a book I make the time to squeeze in any spare moments possible.

“What happened with this one?” I wondered to myself chapter after chapter. I didn’t feel the pull, the connection that I did in the initial book, that’s one point.  Another point is that I felt like I had stepped into a play mid-progress. Roth begins the book right where it left off.  Great way to keep the action going; however, it’s been about a year since I read Divergent and felt a tad lost.

Roth has this to say why she chose not to backtrack on the first story:
“I made an “artistic decision” in Insurgent not to do a lot of recapping (that device used in sequels to remind readers of what happened in the first book). Recapping is not a bad thing– it is very useful, and often necessary–but I felt that it would bog down Tris’s narrative and would sound unnatural in her voice.”

I can see her point–on the other hand, it wouldn’t hurt to at least have some kind of reference to remember names, places, former action.  I call these courtesy plot pages, and they score reader thank you points with me.  Roth did provide something along these lines on her blog.  Be aware that it contains absolute spoilers for reading Divergent.  Need a plot reminder?  Click here.

Overall, Insurgent is not a bad read.  It contains lots of action, plot twists, character growth, and has a cliffhanger ending which will keep me looking for the next installment.  Dystopian reads are interesting to me, and I appreciate Roth’s writing style and her themes of government control, violence and pacifism. She also subtly weaves in the aspect of finding personal peace through finding faith.  This is the best theme of all.

Out of curiosity, if you had to choose a faction (not born into one), what faction would it be?

Dauntless: tattoo-bearing adrenaline junkies, who tend to shoot first and ask questions later. You don’t see too many old Dauntless hanging about the compound.

Abnegation: they wear grey, because they do not want to stand out in society.  They are self-less and serve the community.

Erudite: these guys are the brains, the tech-geeks.  They can also be a bit on the autocratic, cold logic side of life.

Amity: sounds like the Amish because they basically are in philosophy.  They are the peace-keepers and the food growers of this messed up society.

So–which one would you choose?

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4 thoughts on “Chaos, Anarchy, Mayhem–not a bad read

  1. I’m torn between Amity and Erudite. I’m probably not brainy enough to be accepted in either group, but hey, I’m aiming high. 🙂

    I’m a fan of recapping, especially when a) it is a series, b) there are multiple characters, c) when books are lengthy, and d) when the time between book releases are longer than three months.

  2. Ugh. I meant to say “When the time between book releases is longer than three months.” I hate it when I make grammatical mistakes.

    With that said, I so agree with you about the week thing. Sometimes, I have to think a minute to make sure I know my kids’ birthdays. You’d think the date that brought so much pain and trauma would sear itself into my brain. But no.

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