Uh-oh. Why did I break my promise to myself and read this book?Was it my curiosity? Well, I need to be more careful. After all, curiosity killed the cat - and I'm a Leo. Uh-oh.
Now I'm afraid that this book may have made me use up a few of my allotted nine lives. O_O
Welcome back to the senseless world of dystopian Chicago where you are only allowed to have one personality trait, which apparently is determined in what seems to be an equivalent of a 5-question multiple choice test. And this ridiculousness is presented very seriously. Let's catch up, shall we?
If you happen to give your seat on a bus to an old lady - well, you must be selfless! Welcome to Abnegation where you can enjoy shapeless clothes and bland food.
If you have ever wondered how stuff works and dared to ask a smart question - welcome to the EEEEvil Educated Erudites Exclusive Establishment! A set of complementary spectacles and a seat at the library are waiting for you!
You frown upon lying? Welcome to candid life of Candor. Enjoy your lie detector tests! Now there's only one answer you can give to the eternal question, "Does this make me look fat?" (and punched in the face you will be, no doubt.)
You are a tree-hugging (or people hugging) hippie? Amity, 'nuff said.
You are a near-suicidal borderline sociopath who loves jumping off moving trains and beat the crap out of people??? Heh-heh. You must be Brainless Dauntless. Enjoy your youth because you'll die young and in true Darwin Awards fashion.
But what if you happen to be a normal person with more than one personality trait? What if you are a tree-hugging gardening-loving hippie who helps old ladies cross the street while being able to truthfully recite 34 decimal digits of pi??????
HIGH ALERT!!!! YOU ARE DIVERGENT!!! THE HORROR!!! YOU ARE SOMEHOW SPECIAL!!! DANGER TO THE SOCIETY!!! RUN AND HIDE!!!!
This how we left things in Divergent that for all its flaws was quite entertaining. Now we're moving on to Insurgent where ridiculous overpowers the fun amidst nothing happening.
We start with our lovely heroine Tris, recently tortured and shot in the shoulder after which she lost quite a bit of blood - right away easily jumping off trains and running around like the invincible little special snowflake she is. When she's not defying basic laws of human physiology, she moons over her boyfriend Tobias, and tries to pull the traditional YA self-sacrificing for the sake of the loved one cliché.
Peripheral characters die left and right in this book - but Tris is not even slowed down by serious physical injuries. It's like she's Superman's long lost cousin.
And how exactly is she so badass? Is it her 'extensive' Dauntless training? I beg to differ.
After a few weeks of haphazard training in the Dauntless compound - the training that appeared to consist of teenagers pummeling each other into pulp, shooting guns and throwing knives without any real instructions, jumping from moving trains, and never actually having time to recover from physical injuries, and playing 'Capture the Flag' - Tris is, of course, a highly trained physical menace. If that's what makes you so super-fit in this dystopian world, the rest of them must be so deconditioned they fall over from just walking.
Dauntless training: Left: what we are expected to believe it is. Right: what it probably looked like the entire time.
Seriously, all the training happened in the previous book. This one really presents Tris as an accomplished badass - again, after a month or so of physical training. Really, book?
Tobias, apparently less than impressed with Tris's special snowflake-ness, spends the majority of this book pouting at her, yelling at her, being bossy, patronizing, dismissive, and full of double standards. In the meantime, Tris spends quite a bit of time swooning over him, while Nataliya spends quite a bit of time perfecting the eye-rolling exercises (my version of Dauntless workouts, using eye muscles only).
And here's the worst thing - in many many many many pages of this book not much of significance ever happens. Seriously.
The rest of the story (the parts not about Tobias and Tris' relationship) consists of contrived yet repetitive situations in this ridiculously constructed world that is completely unsustainable the way it's presented that read like a 12-year-old wrote them. Go to a new compound, meet stupid and selfish/evil/plotting/weak leaders, engage in a confrontation with the Erudites, meet those prejudiced against you, watch a peripheral character die, do something noble, do something reckless, do something selfless, rinse, repeat, pass 'Go', collect some angst points.
Most side characters are so under-developed and one-sided that the idea of the world where people are okay with being defined only by a single quality almost begins to make sense - except I think it's less deliberate planning than poor characterization. Add to this the fact that not much actually happens in this book to meaningfully advance the plot in any way - and you see how this can get juuuuust a bit frustrating.
And the much-talked-about ending? I found it (a) ridiculous and (b) quite predictable - I called it not that far into the book, thinking about the only possible way a world so illogical as this one would ever come into being (and, in all honesty, I watched enough of M. Night Shyamalan's films to jump to the conclusion that is the Big Reveal. Call me nerdy? Well, yeah).
Hey, but at least we get a mention of prefrontal cortex and mirror neurons in the context of pseudo-science of the Erudites here. Neuroscience Made Ridiculously Simple, huh? If things like that are what makes the Erudite seem smart, this world is screwed.
By the way: What did smart people ever do to Veronica Roth? Erudite = Evil gets annoying rather quickly. Why is it that it's the "brave" who are awesome - and all the other qualities appear vastly inferior? Is it because Gryffindor in Harry Potter (another universe that sorted kids by their one defining character trait) housed the brave? Is it because bespectacled kids (the stereotypical 'smart') seem like easy targets on the playground? C'mon, Veronica Roth, smart kids are cool, oh-kay?
Cool smart people. See - I'm not kidding.
Anyway, 2 stars - I feel generous since I had so much fun looking for all the Big Bang Theory images for this review. I still may read the third one because apparently I enjoy torturing myself with eyeroll-worthy books.