There are potential spoilers in this review, so ye be warned!
I read “Divergent” and found it tolerable, so I decided to read the next book in the series. True, “Divergent” had a weak premise, but was entertaining enough that I let things slide. Unfortunately “Insurgent” takes that same weak premise and stacks blocks of drama, angst, and stupidity on top, and eventually it just collapses into a pile of WTF.
The basic concept at the heart of society in this book – the faction system – is unrealistic. History has shown time and again that dividing people doesn’t create peace and stability: rich vs. poor, race vs. race, religion vs. religion, etc. Also, the factions are defined by character traits: modesty/selflessness (Abnegation), intelligence/curiosity (Erudite), bravery/fearlessness (Dauntless), pacifisim/tree-hugger (Amity), and honesty/trustworthiness (Candor). Everything about your life is determined by the faction you belong to: how you dress, where you live, how your house should look, who you can marry, and how you should act. You must always conform to the ideals of your faction.
But wait, you say. What if someone is brave AND smart AND honest? You know, if someone had a realistic, well-rounded personality instead of being a living stereotype? Well, that person would be labeled as “Divergent.” And Divergents are a danger to society. Obviously. Why? Well, because they don’t fit in one particular box, so they are a threat to the faction system. And they have special brains that are resistant to the simulation serum; magical, evil brains.
Ok, the magic part isn’t actually true, but so many myths have been spread about Divergents that some of the characters in the book admit to prejudice and superstitious beliefs concerning them. Seems kinda odd to that a society with science advanced to have realistic mental simulations and truth serum would still have people believing in nonsense like magic brain powers, but what do I know.
Speaking of truth serum, wtf? Seriously. At the start of “Divergent” there’s all this tension between Erudite and Abnegation factions because of some nasty rumors flying around. If there is a truth serum, and the whole Candor faction is dedicated to the truth, why didn’t Candor use their magic serum to get to the bottom of the rumors? And then in “Insurgent,” why didn’t they use it to figure out what the hell Erudite was up to? Having half of Dauntless acting as Erudite body guards after nearly wiping out Abnegation didn’t seem like a good reason for Candor to say, ” Everyone shut the hell up and take some truth serum”?
Erudite in general seems pretty stupid, considering that they’re supposed to be the “smart” faction. They create a serum that lets them mind-control Dauntless, and uses them to attack Abnegation? Seriously? If they wanted information, they should’ve subjected Abnegation to truth serum. If they wanted to take over the city, they should’ve attacked or brain-washed Candor first, as they were more likely to offer resistance than Abnegation or Amity. It just doesn’t make sense. The Tris in “Insurgent” feels like a different character that the Tris in “Divergent.” While reading “Divergent,” I remember thinking that Tris was more bad-ass than Katniss from “The Hunger Games”; she learned how to fight and use weapons and actually applied that knowledge. In “Insurgent,” bad-ass Tris has disappeared and was replaced by a stupid, angsty teen with a martyr complex/suicidal tendencies. Some people will say Tris is in shock and a reacting to everything that happened recently, but I don’t care. I don’t like Tris enough to want to read a whole book of her being stupid, useless, and mopey.