Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

26 May, 2012 Reviews 64 comments

Review: Insurgent by Veronica RothInsurgent by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #2
Published by HarperTeen on May 1st 2012
Pages: 525
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

What a shame. The most anticipated book of 2012 is my most disappointing read so far. After all the positive reviews I read, I knew for sure I’d love it. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. I was conflicted on whether to give this book one or two stars. In the end, Insurgent’s saving grace is that it simply doesn’t belong with some of my other one starred books. So, I feel I must warn whoever stumbles across this review: If this is one of your favorite series and you love it with the burning passion of a supernova, this review might have the potential to piss you off. It might be best for both you and I if you just hit the back button now before things get going. Go on. Spock and I will wait.


Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Oh, you’re staying, huh? Well, strap yourself in because I have a feeling it might just be one of those reviews…

Spock tells me this review must contain mild spoilers in order to logically explain this illogical novel. Sorry, kids. Spock’s call.

The first big negative right off the bat was that Insurgent picks up directly after Divergent left off. There is virtually no recap to the story or characters and if you read the book a year ago, well, you may be screwed. But thankfully, Roth wrote up a lovely little cheat sheet for just this purpose. Yay! However, the problem doesn’t just lie with remembering names. It lies with the connection the reader may or may not have had with the characters in Divergent, which was now non-existent since I could barely remember who was who. What’s that you say? So and so just got shot in the head? I’m sorry, I can’t find a single fuck to give. Then, we are introduced to even more characters. So, not only do I have to attempt to remember the old characters, but I have to keep track of these newbies too? That’s just way too much work. Obviously, this isn’t really Insurgent’s fault, but I thought it would helpful to point this out.

The Plot:

What happened here? What happened to the action packed dystopian series I was introduced to in Divergent? Where the hell was Tris and why was Bella playing her role? Why did Four suddenly update his Facebook status to Douche Bag? Who’s idea was it to turn Insurgent into a Dystopian Romance? One thing I loved about Divergent was that the romance took a back seat to the story and action. But in Insurgent the action is scattered with a heavier focus on Tris and Four’s relationship. Look, that is not what I signed up for. I really don’t care if Four loves Tris or if they’ll end up riding a unicorn that poops rainbows as they ride off into the sunset. Whatever, whatever, whatever.

So, the Erudite are trying to take over their world by creating a new serum for those that are Divergent while the Factionless plan a rebellion. But all that usually happens in the background with occasional mention to keep the reader up to date. Most of the novel we are stuck in Tris’ head as she goes into angst mode over Four, her parents and Will. It was so boring I felt like I was stuck in a throwback episode of As the World Turns. On repeat. Save me. But wait! We have a random plot twist at the end right before the battle is about to go down. Marcus (Four’s abusive father) decides to enlist Tris to help him retrieve information stolen from Abnegation. He tells her it’s super secret and that he can’t tell her what it is because it’s something you have to see, that she’ll just have to trust him. Doing so would betray Four. She agrees.

Wait. Pause.

Tris hates Marcus. Tris loves Four. Tris doesn’t know what information they would be retrieving. She also doesn’t know if Marcus is telling her the truth. She has absolutely no reason to believe him. No real evidence to back up his claim. She agrees. Without much thought. Tris is supposed to have an aptitude for Erudite, right? She’s supposed to be logical, RIGHT?!

Tris, pack your bags. I think Spock has just voted you off the island.

That makes no sense! And then when I found out the super big secret, guess what? He could have easily told her! I smell and easy plot cop-out, folks. The secret is kept long enough from the reader just so it can push you off the cliff on the last page.

World Building:

In Divergent I let a lot slide and roll off me because I was entertained throughout the entire book. I’m known to do that with a lot of books like Wither and Across the Universe, for example. I could not do it with Insurgent. You see, I have the attention span of a fruit fly. If I’m not fully engaged in the book, I’m going to notice things. Things I probably wouldn’t care too much about if I were enjoying myself. Like how the Erudite wear glasses just because they’re smart. Or how even though Tris is emotionally unbalanced 16-year-old, everyone still looks to her to “analyze the situation.” Or even how impossible I find these factions. How is it that you can put all of these traits into neat little boxes and ask a person to choose one over the others? This is the same problem I had with The Hunt. In both novels the author tries to pitch an idea of human behavior completely different from what reality is, but you can clearly see the flaws with it. However, the main character fully believes in that world and way of thinking. They try to rationalize it, convince you of it. Yes, I realize it’s a Dystopian novel, but this is a hard concept to sell because it makes it difficult for me to sympathize with the main character, their conflicted feelings and understand their world. Believability is key for me and I have a hard time believing this world. Tris frequently switches back and forth between her Dauntless, Erudite and Abnegation sides. Other characters comment on her embracing one trait depending on what the situation calls for it. But this doesn’t work for me. Real talk, you can’t just put logical thinking back in the toy chest when you decide you don’t want to play with it anymore. It doesn’t work like that. At least… I don’t think so. Spock?

I’m getting no-ish vibes.


This series gets a lot of comparisons to The Hunger Games and in a way I can see why. You have your young girl who, one way or another, plays an important part in bringing forth change to her society. And if I really had to compare the two, I’d say that Insurgent is like Mockingjay. Tris is depressed, struggling to hold it together and fight in the war. The difference comes into play when Tris borderline gives up, while Katniss kicked ass until the very end. I’m not saying Tris didn’t have the right to be depressed because I do believe she did. But it was really over done for me. I felt like I was drowning in her angst. This book is over 500 pages long and most of the action doesn’t even show up to the party until the last 30 pages! So what was Tris doing for the other 500 pages? Not a damn thing. No, scratch that. Spock tells me that is inaccurate. Tris was in fact doing something. She was off being selfless, trying to get herself killed so that no one else would die. Bella is that you? I didn’t know you did Dystopias now! That irritated me to no end. At one point she turns herself into the Erudite because they threatened to kill off people until Divergent started surrendering. So, of course, Tris thinks it has to be her and sneaks off to give herself up before the Dauntless can form a plan. Now, let’s think about this logically. Tris knows the Erudite want to experiment on her for a Divergent-proof serum. Which means more people would be enslaved and/or killed because of her turning herself in. *facepalm* Then she almost dies, but it was too late because I had run out of fucks by then! So I had to shake Spock down for some.

What do you mean you’re out of fucks?! One of us has to care if Tris lives or dies!

The Ending:

Okay, lots of spoilers here, folks. Spoilers all around from this point on.

I didn’t like the ending. I felt cheated because I had hung on for the ending. Everyone said how it made up for the rest of the book and what not, but here’s the thing: The ending couldn’t make up for all the angst-filled fluff the rest of the book was stuffed with. I didn’t feel the anticipation throughout the novel and I hate to admit that I was really tempted to skim. The villan was killed really fast without much of a fight. I always hate when that happens. The villan has been giving the characters hell all throughout the story and by the time their number is up, they beg for their life and die by a simple stab wound?

“Yes, if you kill me you’ll never find the information!”

*stabby stab*

>insert blood and stuff<



Still no fucks I see. That’s cold, bro.

And the big secret wasn’t anything you couldn’t have guessed from Divergent. It’s revealed that the world is in chaos outside of the fence. Murders, destruction, ect. The weird thing is that I actually forgot about their society being enclosed in the fence until it was brought up near the end. It totally slipped my mind. But, I digress. The entire point of their society was to be a fresh start to the world. Somehow by boxing people in these Factions and waiting for the Divergent to emerge that equates to saving humanity. I’m not exactly sure how that works since the book just ends with that revelation and the Acknowledgements rolled. But I feel like Roth wrote herself all the way to a deserted island, sent up her S.O.S. signal and that cliffhanger fell right out of the sky to the rescue. *sigh* I really hate cliffhangers. It was one of the things that I liked about Divergent. For the most part things were tied up, but with Insurgent? It’s quite the mess we’ll be walking into in book three.

Will I read the next book?  Yes, because I’ve come this far and I’m hoping I will enjoy book three as much as I enjoyed Divergent. I think Insurgent suffers from “Second Book Syndrome” and the infamous “Hype Train,” may it die in a fire (the Hype Train, not the book). But ultimately, I’m interested in how Roth will explain away everything. Maybe then this whole series will make perfect logical sense to me. Until then, drink time, Spock?

Steph Sinclair

Steph Sinclair

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
I'm a bibliophile trying to make it through my never-ending To-Be-Read list, equal opportunity snarker, fangirl and co-blogger here at Cuddlebuggery. Find me on GoodReads.

64 Responses to “Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth”

  1. Amy @ Turn the Page

    😀 Yeah, I haven’t read this one yet. I will. Eventually. Probably when someone can give it to me second hand for free lol.

    I wasn’t crazy about the first book either.

    But mainly the reason I haven’t picked it up yet is because I got sick and tired of hearing about the damn thing in the month leading up to its release.
    Amy @ Turn the Page recently posted…Its been a year…My Profile

  2. Cassie F.

    You know, I was one of the many who enjoyed Insurgent, but I completely understand and agree (partly) to your review. Veronica could have made this book a bit more streamlined and taken out a few things here are there. It would have made for a more engaging read. I can also see why you might have been bothered by Tris and Four, but for the most part, I found it understandable. This isn’t to say I LIKED what happened, but I didn’t blame them. I appreciate that Roth didn’t add in another guy just to make things more complicated. Instead, she focused more on their relationship and the things that they have to overcome. So sorry this was a disappointment! Hopefully you will be happy with the third book.

    • Stephanie Sinclair

      @Cassie F.:

      I agree with you. I’m really glad there wasn’t a love triangle thrown in too. Can you imagine the mess that would have created? I’m happy to hear you enjoyed Insurgent. Hopefully, book three will be more enjoyable for me.

  3. Kelly

    I’ve been deliberately holding back on reading this, because I didn’t love Divergent as much as everyone else. A lot of the problems you’ve said you had with Insurgent was how I felt about Divergent – so I’m worried that Insurgent will be even worse for me.

    Loved your review! One of the only ones I’ve seen that wasn’t a glowing 4/5-Star review, so it’s nice to get some perspective.
    Kelly recently posted…ARC Book Review: All These LivesMy Profile

    • Stephanie Sinclair


      Thanks, Kelly! Even with all the issues I had with Divergent, I still gave it 4 stars because it was an exciting read. I think Insurgent would be a disappointment for you if you didn’t really enjoy Divergent.

  4. Rachel Hartman


    *ahem* Thoughtful review, too. I haven’t read the first one because I’m NOT someone who can overlook wonky world-building, even if the book is engaging, and it just sounded too far-fetched to me.
    Rachel Hartman recently posted…Prog rock poulticeMy Profile

  5. Mary @ Book Swarm

    Even though I really did enjoy INSURGENT (and not just because of the hype), I can see where you’re coming from. I was a tad disappointed that it focused more on the romance but both Tris and Four’s lives changed so drastically, I can see why they both clung to one another and tried to push each other away. And, with Tris suffering from PSTD, she’s bound to be a bit more head-bound than action-forward.

    Or maybe I was just in a read it, overlook it, and love it mood. That’s entirely possible, too. I loved the Spock Gifs. Very apropos.
    Mary @ Book Swarm recently posted…Guest Post and Giveaway: ENTANGLED by Nikki JeffordMy Profile

  6. AnimeJune

    Spock really really helps with this review.

    I was iffy about reading this because a lot of my fellow bloggers I follow said the same thing – either it’s not as good, or (best case scenario) it has a classic case of middle-book-itis. But my mum and I both read Divergent at the same time and she loved Insurgent. So I will read it for her – such a dutiful daughter I am!
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  7. KT Grant

    I read Divergent and I thought it was okay but not this mind blowing book everyone and their mother and cat or dog felt was the best thing ever.

    It seems most sequels in Dystopian YA fail to deliver. I felt this way with Catching Fire even with the awesome cliffhanger of an ending. Everything felt contrived. It seems Insurgent is the same.

    Your reviewing skills, as always put mine to shame. Love the Spock .gifs.
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    • Stephanie Sinclair

      @KT Grant:

      Thanks, Katie! The middle book seems to really be an issue for this genre. Maybe it’s an indication that the series really doesn’t need three books? I certainly think most of the events could have been compressed or cut.

  8. Yael Itamar

    This. So much.

    The entire book came with the feeling of “Shut up and go with it, okay?” It bugged me to no end. Whether they’re trying to convince me that Tris has Erudite leanings, or that her relationship with Tobias is more than just a soap opera, or that the events of this plot are in any way plausible, I just wasn’t buying it.

  9. Nicole @ Teenage Fiction

    You know, I actually found this book quite good. I thought it was wonderful how there was a huge focus on the character’s relationships, but I can see why some people would dislike this one. I hope the last doesn’t disappoint you as much!

  10. Beatriz

    Wow, great review. The Spock gif’s were awesome \o/ I actually liked Insurgent, but I felt the same way about Tris. When she gave herself up to the Erudite, I wanted to kill her myself. She’s even worse than Bella in this book… which is too bad, since she was a remarkable character in Divergent.
    Well, I hope you enjoy the next book a lot more than you did this one 😀
    Beatriz recently posted…The Fault in Our Stars, by John GreenMy Profile

  11. Linna

    Gosh dang it, not another disappointing dystopian sequel. I was afraid that Insurgent would fall into another mess of stupid character decisions, random implausible event-plots, and angst 🙁 It joins Wither’s sequel (that was just boring), Pandemonium (love triangle…), The Scorch Trials (boring mess with a love triangle), and to a lesser extent, Catching Fire (badly paced with too much filler).

    I hope Blood Red Road’s sequel doesn’t disappoint. I think I’d lose all hope if that happened T_T

    I think the only sequel in a trilogy that just gets even better was part of Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking books. I probably wouldn’t be so harsh to these recent sequels if CW hadn’t shown that it can be done.

    • Stephanie Sinclair


      Sequels must be really difficult to write. I liked Fever mostly because I’m a sucker for Lauren’s prose, but it is a much slower paced series. So I can totally see it being boring for some people. I haven’t read Pandemonium yet, but I wasn’t that crazy about Delirium, o no rush for me there. Lol. And I haven’t read The Scorch Trialsnor Blood Red Road yet. Totally agree about Catching Fire, though. I’m hearing great things Patick Ness’ series. I should get to that soon!

      • katniss

        @Stephanie Sinclair: Comment
        I’ve just finished divergent and it was quite good just ordered insurgent from the library so will be reading that soon I agree with what was said about THG the 1st one was awesome cathching fire was good but slowly through the series I got let down didn’t think much of mockingjay.I’ve read blood red road which was good and hope the 2nd is good too. I just don’t want to be disappointed with insurgent as most of you seem x
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  12. Angelya

    This review was made even more awesome by Spock’s presence xD

    I have to agree with you about the ending… it was a bit of a let-down after all they went through to get to that point. Here’s hoping that the third one is all that everyone hopes it will be.
    Angelya recently posted…Clock Rewinders (4)My Profile

  13. Cecilia

    I just discovered your blog today (Yesterday? I’ve been reading your blog since 11pm and it’s now 1 in the morning). I haven’t seen such an abundance of Spocks since I once watched a Spock montage on YouTube.

    I read the first couple pages of divergent and didn’t feel the love I once had for it. I didn’t like the way it immediately started from where we left off because that seemed like a cheap way to start a book. I’m hesitant to continue reading it and to be honest there are much better books to read and they are keeping me quite distracted.

    Your review was awesome, funny, and really informative. I look forward to reading more.

    PS. I think you’ve found a fan!

  14. Rebecca R

    This is the first review I’ve read that has finally made me feel like I made the right choice in not reading these books. For some reason the premise just sounds completely stupid to me and I can’t bring myself to read them despite so many positive reviews. I can’t figure out the draw these books have, and I guess I never will lol

    • Stephanie Sinclair

      @Rebecca R:

      The premise is really hard to picture. So I’d say if you aren’t the typeif reader that can easily just “go with it” it may irritate you.

  15. Yeti

    I loved Divergent. I was bored and irritated with Insurgent, Tris and Four get over yourselves for fuck sake, sheesh! And the end…FML, shoot me now! Oh and is it just me or did the whole you are humanity’s saviours malarky didn’t ring true as they’d all been fighting and killing and trying to gain power…isn’t that what they are meant to be saving the outside of the fence from??? To be fair by the end of the book I didn’t really give a crap I was just glad to get the end so I may have missed the bits that would make it make sense!

  16. Katie @ Blook Girl

    Awww MAN! I enjoyed Divergent and had high hopes for Insurgent, but as one other commentor said, I will lower my expectations before reading it. I skimmed the review, as I didn’t want to spoil it for myself, but I’m hoping against hope that there is some redeeming quality in it for me.

    Great review, as always 🙂 Loved the GIFs!

  17. Treven Wong

    Hey thanks for the book review, I like others can see why you wouldnt enjoy it but I did. However I had no one to talk to about this since I dont know anyone who read it in the first place. I just need to know, your opinion on the ending. If that was her mother on the screen and she is one of the people to begin this dystopian Chicago, don’t you think that its a little weird in that there can only have been one new generation of this society within the fences? There are older people than her mother, do they not remember or know that the world was turning to shit? Idk if im an idiot or if anyone else is thinking the same thing:[ thoughts?

    • Stephanie Sinclair

      @Treven Wong:

      That is an excellent point. I didn’t even think of that because I was thinking that it was her grandmother. But, wow, you’re right. Tris is second generation. See, now this is all making even less sense. How is it this society is so developed an ingrained in their ways after only one generation? I don’t buy it.

  18. Sandy

    I am looking for a free copy when I go to BEA which is why I haven’t read this yet unlike my friend who is reading it now and is telling me that Tris is just whining and moping throughout the whole book. Looks like this one will be moving down the priority list.

  19. SKC

    I just stumbled upon this blog and have been sifting through the reviews, and this one caught my eye.

    Someone who did not enjoy Insurgent?


    YES. I am not alone in this world!

    I agree with everything stated above, but most of all with your first point. Now, I’ve read a lot of books since I read Divergent, and as it is with a lot of series, a little ‘fresher course is welcomed in the opening pages of a book…especially since there are literally dozens of other stories’ plots bouncing around in my memory. But nothing reminded me of the first book. Nothing. I had no recollection of any of the characters, not even Tris. Now granted, I never thought much of Divergent, but had decided to give this book a chance.

    And I literally could put the book down. And I did, often. I’d read a page or two, then set it down. Pick it back up again, get bored after a few paragraphs, and go distract myself on Tumblr. And I’m a person who will happily read a book until 5 AM just to finish it in one sitting.

    Anyway, your review hooked me in. I am now off to peruse the rest of this blog, because something tells me that this is the place to be!

    • Stephanie Sinclair


      Oh, we exist far into the darkest trenches of the book world. LOL. Your reading experience was just like mine. I put the book down a lot of times and struggled to finish it.

      I hope you enjoy the blog! We hope you stick around and chat with us. 🙂

  20. Kelly

    Oh my gosh! Thank you for validating my frustrations with this book, and for giving me the courage to finish the last 95 pages! It’s like Roth was just trying to meet a deadline and forgot to write a plot that makes any sort of sense considering the characters she’s created. I could go on, but you’ve already said it all for me. Now Icahn go finish this novel and hope, like you, that Roth redeems herself and Tris.
    Kelly recently posted…Breakfast PizzaMy Profile

    • Stephanie Sinclair


      I hate waiting for the very end for something to happen, especially for a very long book! I feel like I’ve basically wasted my time. 🙁 Here’s hoping book three is a much better reading experience.

  21. Loisa Inciong

    Omg! Yes! Finally someone who doesn’t like insurgent. I don’t understand how people liked this book because for me it just doesn’t make sense at all. Your review is just spot on. The book was way too long, boring, has a lot of loop holes, doesnt tie together at the end. It was a mess. It was all over the place. That was it for me, I no longer read the 3rd book. I’m done.

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