Here is my massive review of Insurgent which is book two of three in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.
Though I was not impressed so much with book 1 Divergent I found this one to be of greater substance. I did find at times that the main character appeared to be whining a bit much but aside from that Insurgent made up for all the limitations of character development and plot holes found in book 1.
The setting takes place in a Chicago in the far future, where Lake Michigan has become one massive swamp.
Background from book 1:
The background to the story, revealed in the first novel of the trilogy, explains how Chicago in the near future is divided into 5 factions:
Abnegation, meant to uphold selflessness;
Amity, meant for the peaceful;
Candor, meant for the honest;
Dauntless, meant for the brave; and
Erudite, intended for the knowledgeable.
The story's protagonist, Tris, tested with equal aptitude for three: Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless. This makes her "Divergent" and she is warned never to share this information with anyone for fear of her life. Those who are Divergent, and those who are simply not strong enough in their particular faction, are deemed factionless.
Tris, Four, Caleb, Peter, and Marcus travel to Amity, where several surviving Abnegation are settled in. Amity issues a statement that all factions may seek refuge there as long as they reside in peace. Tris overhears Marcus confessing to the Amity speaker, Johanna, that Abnegation's leaders died to protect a secret. Tris later confronts Marcus, but he refuses to reveal anything.
Erudite and Dauntless traitors soon arrive at Amity to search for the Abnegation. During their search of the compound, Four's tattoos give the group away, and a gunfight begins. During this, an Erudite woman aims at Peter and Tris unintentionally saves his life. Tris, Four, Caleb, and Susan manage to escape and jump onto an oncoming train. The train car is full of armed factionless, including former Dauntless initiate Edward, who escort them to a factionless safe zone. Tris is surprised to learn that the factionless are numerous and have established a society in which the people seem happy and taken care of. The group is led to the factionless leader, Four's mother Evelyn, who was previously thought to be dead. That evening, Tris overhears a conversation between Four and Evelyn, during which Evelyn tells Four that he needs to convince the Dauntless to join the factionless. During this encounter, Evelyn threatens Tris, telling her that she is "permanent" in Four's life and that Tris is only "temporary". The warning only makes Tris' wariness of Evelyn even worse. Caleb and Susan move to a safe zone where more Abnegation are living, while Tris and Four travel to Candor headquarters.
Upon reaching Candor, Tris and Four are arrested and subjected to a truth serum trial. During the trial, Four admits that he joined Dauntless to escape his father's abuse, and Tris admits her guilt in shooting Will. This angers Four and Christina, who were unaware that Tris was Will's killer. The Candor are attacked by Dauntless traitors led by Eric; many people are shot with a new simulation serum. Tris and Uriah, who is revealed to be Divergent, figure out what is happening and try to warn the remaining Divergent, but they are all captured by Eric. He plans, as instructed by Jeanine, to take two of the Divergent back to Erudite headquarters and execute the rest. As Tris injures Eric, the Dauntless burst into the room and take control. They figure out that the new serum allows Jeanine to subject the victims to simulations from great distances and that it won't wear off, giving the Erudite much greater control over the group. Following the attack, Candor leader Jack arranges a meeting with the Erudite, secretly observed by Tris, Four, Lynn, and Shauna. The Erudite, represented by Dauntless traitor Max, demand that Candor turn over Eric, the Divergent, and a list of those who did not receive the new serum injection. Tris figures out that Jeanine is controlling Max via earpiece and must be close by, but before she can act, Lynn shoots Max in the chest from her secret location. Tris, Four, Lynn, and Shauna run to escape the Dauntless traitors but run into Jeanine and her guards, one of whom is Peter, who allows them to escape. As they run away, Shauna is shot in the back and paralyzed.
Back at Candor, Four confronts Tris, telling her that she is being reckless with her life, and that they are finished if she continues to act as such. The Dauntless hold a secret meeting, and Four, Tori, and Harrison are elected as new leaders. They then put Eric on trial for his crimes. He is convicted, and Eric demands that Four kill him, which he does with no guilt. The Dauntless return to their headquarters, and Tris and Four meet with Evelyn and Edward. While Tris and Four are leaving for the meeting, Four tells her that one of his fears in his fear landscape changed; instead of having to shoot a woman, he has to watch Tris die. Four makes an agreement with the factionless to destroy the Erudite and establish a new government. However, Tris doesn't trust Evelyn, who she feels abandoned Four to his father's abuse.
That night, Christina and Tris discover a simulation that causes Dauntless members to step off the roof every two days unless a Divergent is given to the Erudite. They save a young girl and Lynn's brother, Hector, but Marlene plunges to her death. Tris is again overcome by grief and guilt. She flees the funeral ceremony, but Christina finds her and forgives her for what happened with Will, understanding that simulations make a person completely controlled by Jeanine. Tris later finds her way to Four's room, intent on sacrificing herself to Erudite. He begs her to reconsider, and she agrees, but leaves for Erudite at midnight while he sleeps.
Tris walks into Erudite headquarters, terrified but accepting of her fate. She agrees to Jeanine's testing as long as the results are explained to her; she is then subjected to an MRI and several simulations. She sees Caleb, who is now working for Jeanine, and is shocked at his betrayal. One evening, Tris encounters Four in the hallway, and discovers that he tried to save her. They are taken to the execution chamber, where Jeanine injects Tris with a terror-inducing drug so that Four will give up the locations of the factionless safe houses. Despite all her efforts, Jeanine cannot find a simulation to control Tris, and when Jeanine loses her temper, the two have an altercation. She then declares that Tris will die the next day. However, Peter, who is meant to be her executioner, helps her, to repay his debt of her saving his life, and Four escape from Erudite instead.
The three travel to the Abnegation sector of the city, where the factionless and Dauntless have gathered. Four leads Tris to his own house after Evelyn kicks Marcus out, and they admit their love for each other. Having been greatly affected by her near-death experience, Tris meanders around her old neighborhood. She bumps into Marcus, who convinces Tris that her parents died to save the information that Jeanine stole. He insists this information must be made public before the Dauntless/factionless army destroy all data in their attack. Under disguise, Tris, Christina, and Marcus infiltrate Amity to update Johanna and ask for her help. She holds a meeting to inform the rest of Amity, and after the decision is reached to remain impartial, Johanna and several others choose to leave the faction. Tris and Christina speak with the Erudite refugees living in Amity, including Will's sister Cara, who agrees to help with the mission to save the information that was stolen and transmit it to all factions.
Travelling back to the city, Tris leads a group disguised as Erudite to infiltrate the faction headquarters. Once they get in, Cara begins connecting the computers to transmit the data to other factions. After an encounter with Caleb, Tris and Marcus realize the data won't be on the main computer. Tris, Marcus, and Christina head up to Jeanine's private laboratory, after Tris remembers what Tori mentioned about security. On the way, the group runs into Edward. After a fight that disables Edward and Christina, Tris and Marcus reach an intersection. They split up, going into two different doorways. Tris enters a simulation that forces her to fight herself. Realizing she is more desperate than her simulation counterpart, she forces the simulation to give her a gun, and, facing her guilt over Will, she shoots and kills her simulation-self. When she walks into the laboratory, she finds Tori screaming at Jeanine to acknowledge her brother, a Divergent, who was killed on Jeanine's command. Tris disarms Tori, and after a struggle, she attempts to explain that she wants Tori not to kill Jeanine so that they can obtain the information from her computer. Tori refuses and stabs Jeanine in the stomach, killing her.
Tori calls Tris a traitor and attempts to have her taken into custody, while Four confronts her about aligning with Marcus. Uriah escorts Tris downstairs, and as they reach the holding area for the surviving Erudite, Candor, and Dauntless, they find an injured Lynn, and comfort her as she dies. Evelyn announces the institution of a new factionless government and society. The Dauntless begin to protest but find themselves powerless, as their weapons have been taken by the factionless. Caleb, Marcus, and Four then enter the room, and Four talks to Tris. They kiss and reconcile, and Tris hopes all the secrets between them are gone for good. Screens in the room begin to play the information retrieved by Four and Caleb: an old video featuring a woman named Amanda Ritter, who later takes the identity of Edith Prior, from an organization fighting for justice and peace. Amanda explains that the world had become corrupt and the faction system was established as the cure to this corruption, as a way to help society regain the moral sense it had lost. The city was sealed away from the rest of the world, but when those identified as Divergent had increased in numbers, the Amity are to open the fence forever and the population should re-enter the world. As the video ends, the room erupts into voices.
Beatrice Prior - (Tris) narrative is from her point of view. She was born Abnegation but chose Dauntless at the Choosing Ceremony when she was 16. She explains her choosing by stating that she felt she was too selfish for Abnegation and wanted to be free. Being Divergent, she is able to control and escape simulations. Tris has an aptitude for 3 factions—Dauntless, Erudite and Abnegation—meaning that her Divergence is stronger than most and practically unheard of. She is in a relationship with Tobias Eaton, also known as Four, her former initiation instructor, and they are in love. Her Divergence influences many aspects of her life, as she often exhibits selflessness, bravery and intelligence. Characterized as slight in stature, she is shorter and skinnier than she would like, but she gains muscle because of the fighting during training and in the war. She has blonde hair and blue eyes. She has a tattoo of three ravens on her collar bone, representing her family, and also has the symbols of Abnegation and Dauntless on either side of her shoulders. Sister of Caleb Prior. Their parents were Andrew and Natalie Prior, who died to save her life. She scored the second lowest number of fears (six) during her fear landscape, right next to Tobias, who has four.
Tobias Eaton - (Four) is in a committed relationship with Tris. He finished his initiation class in first place, which earned him the choice job position, but he refused to become political, choosing to operate the computerized security center at Dauntless. He is nicknamed Four because his fear landscape showed he only has four fears, the lowest amount ever. His fear landscape also revealed that his father, Marcus, was abusive to him, and several of his fears stem from this violence and abuse. Four admits to choosing Dauntless only to escape his father's cruelty, which is seen as a cowardly choice. Marcus was close to Tris's parents, but Four never accompanied him to dinner when they were invited over. That is why he and Tris didn't remember each other. However, when Tris's mom, Natalie, came to visit her on visiting day, he looked familiar. Tris also remembered Tobias from his mother's funeral, which the reader learns was a farce. He is muscular and tall, dark hair with sapphire-blue eyes. He has all of the faction symbols tattooed on his back, along with Dauntless flames along his side.
Caleb Prior - Tris' brother. He often exhibits his Erudite nature with excessive inquisitiveness. Caleb learns from Jeanine about the content of the important information stolen from Abnegation. He chooses to oppose Tris in order to further the Erudite agenda of control by simulation. He is tall with dark hair and green eyes.
Marcus Eaton - an important Abnegation leader. As revealed in Four's fear landscape, he was abusive to his son privately, while maintaining a pristine public image of service and caring leadership. Four characterizes him as manipulative and despises him. He claims that the Erudite had Abnegation attacked to obtain some important information and prevent it from becoming public. He was very close to Tris's parents, this being because Tris's father, Andrew, was also an Abnegation leader.
Jeanine Matthews - the leader of the Erudite, chosen based on her high IQ. She is the developer of the simulation serum and main antagonist. One of her primary goals is to neutralize the threat posed by the Divergent's ability to crack simulations. She obtained the important information from Abnegation during the attack and has kept it hidden on her private computer. She has also taken a special interest in Caleb. She was killed by Tori in revenge for the murder of her brother.
Johanna Reyes - spokeswoman for Amity, which does not elect a leader. She is described as pretty but with a terrible scar running down her face.
Jack Kang - leader at Candor who administers the Truth Serum.
Christina - Tris' close friend. Christina returned to Candor after the attack on Abnegation. She was in a relationship with Will before he was killed, and she suffers from grief at his loss. Christina becomes friends with Will's sister Cara, who offers words of comfort and encouragement. She is very blunt and honest. She is dark skinned with dark hair.
Will - Tris' friend. They met when they were training for Dauntless initiation, and he teased Tris about her gun-shooting skills. He was under the control of the simulation when he attempted to shoot Tris during the attack on Abnegation. Tris, instead, killed him. She is deeply sorrowful about his death at her hand. He had shaggy-blond hair with light green eyes, a crease often showing between his eyes. Will was Christina's partner before his unfortunate death.
Uriah, Lynn, and Marlene - Dauntless-born in the same initiation class as Tris. Uriah is revealed to be Divergent. Marlene is always smiling and cheerful, an upbeat person. She and Uriah are in a relationship, but Marlene is killed after being controlled by a simulation to jump off a roof. Lynn initially did not like Tris, but the two become friendly. Lynn gets shot and dies during the raid on the Erudite yet right before she died she told Uriah that she also loved Marlene, yet not as a friend, hinting that she might be a lesbian.
Zeke and Shauna - friends of Four. Zeke is Uriah's brother, and he acted as a Dauntless-traitor spy until he turned up at Candor with a wounded Tori in tow. Shauna is Lynn's sister, and she is shot in the back when Tris' party pursues Jeanine Matthews after the secret meeting between Max and Jack. Shauna becomes paralyzed from below the waist and requires the use of a wheelchair. She and Zeke are in a relationship.
Tori and Harrison - chosen as leaders along with Four. Harrison is characterized as being older. Tori is an artist at the Dauntless tattoo shop. She ran Tris' simulation before the Choosing Ceremony and warned her to keep her Divergence a secret. Tori's brother was killed because he was found to be Divergent, and Tori wants revenge. She acted as a spy with Zeke in the Erudite compound and discovered that Jeanine's lab was heavily protected. Tori gets her revenge on Jeanine by killing her in the Erudite compound.
Max - a corrupt Dauntless leader who allied with Erudite to destroy Abnegation. He wanted Four to work with him, but he settled for Eric. Gets shot by Lynn during the story.
Eric - Four's nemesis. Eric finished second in the same initiation class as Four. He is threatened by Four and antagonizes him. He is working for Max and Jeanine. He has greasy long hair and several facial piercings. He is shot by Four at his execution.
Peter - is Tris' main enemy. He is from Candor, and Christina tells Tris that he is always rude and not cut out for Candor; saying that he would beat other kids but, blame it on them when the adults came. Tris says he has "very shiny dark hair". He picks on her by calling her a "Stiff" (slang for Abnegation) and harassing her physically. The reason he hurts her is because Tris has proven stronger than he expected, prompting jealousy. Whenever people are stronger than Peter, he is jealous. A good example is in the first book "Divergent" when Edward was ranked highest, Peter stabbed him in the eye with a butter knife to take him out of the running. His hope was to make him leave the faction and his plan was successful. Peter surrenders to Tris and her group at the end of Divergent after Tris shoots him in the arm and they set off on the train together, with Caleb, Tobias, and Marcus. Peter is muscular and tall with shiny dark hair and dark green eyes.
Evelyn (Eaton) Johnson - Four's mother and leader of the Factionless. She had an affair while married to Marcus and, allegedly, was told to leave Abnegation. Four is initially angry over her abandonment but knows that she was abused by his father. Later he feels that she was unfairly treated. Tris doesn't trust Evelyn.
Andrew Prior - Tris and Calebs' deceased father. Natalie's deceased husband. Former Abnegation leader. Was Erudite but transferred to Abnegation. Marcus's deceased friend. Dies during the attack in "Divergent".
Natalie Prior - Tris and Calebs' deceased mother. Andrew's deceased wife. Was former Dauntless but chose Abnegation to be safe because she was Divergent. Dies protecting Tris.
Edith Prior - She is assumed to be related to Tris, as she bears the last name of Prior. Was originally known as Amanda Ritter before forsaking her life to become part of the new faction-based society.
5 stars for Veronica Roth's writing style and character development
3 stars for originality. Similar in many ways to The Hunger Games and other dystopian novels
4 stars for political undertones and the underlying message of home for those that are uncertain as to what their future holds.