Forced to flee their factions, Tris, Tobias and their companions seek refuge at Amity, an ideal joyous faction who believe in peace. They find it hard to find peace here though, still haunted by the events that unfolded during the simulation. Tobias’s mother is still alive, and her idea to start anew is for Dauntless to form allegiance with the Factionless (the group she leads). Whilst Tris ponders this, Tobias and herself head to Candor, where the truth serum forces her to uncover the events of the simulation and admit to Christina what really happened to Will. Tris must also work with Marcus behind Tobias’s back, if she really wants to discover what her mother and father were so willing to die for. Jeanine is hiding something huge: developments for a new serum that even Divergents won’t be able to suppress. Tris must hand herself over to Jeanine to prevent the people around her dying, and it becomes a game of personal strength and trust.
Whilst the first book is still my favourite, Insurgent did not disappoint. For me, the book shows how Tris transforms from a teenager who just wants to find her place in society, find love and find friends, to a strong minded woman determined to do better for society, to lead her friends and risk her life to find answers, to find the truth and challenge a corrupt leadership.
The themes of corruption continue from the first book, coupled with ruthlessness and desperation. Jeanine is in a race against time and knowledge: power hungry but also obsessed with solving the ‘problem’ of Divergence. She has people working closely with her, and isn’t afraid to sacrifice as many lives as are needed to create a serum that the whole population is susceptible to: she needs control.
Evelyn is such a key and rising character in Insurgent. Portrayed firstly as the selfish and fearful mother that subjected her son Tobias to a lifetime of abuse by his father Marcus, then as a strong leader of the Factionless, and finally as a mother trying to repair the relationship with her son.
Tobias, understandingly desperate to repair the years that were lost trusts his mother in her plan to ally with Dauntless to take out Jeanine, but Tris sees her ulterior motives and understands that Evelyn is manipulative.
Tris understands that to get answers, she has to betray those around her, especially Tobias: despite the awful past he has with his father, Tris realises that Marcus is the key to discovering the big secret that Abnegation were guarding.
There is such an underlying theme of forgiveness too. Despite killing Will, her best friend Christina finds it in her heart to understand after being subject to a simulation herself. She forgives Tris and the two are able to work together towards a better future.
Tris and Tobias must constantly forgive one another for keeping secrets from one another: something necessary but difficult to comprehend.
Selflessness is also a huge theme: Tris is faced with an impossible choice between keeping her life and Tobias’s wishes, but sacrificing the lives of the people she has chosen to seek refuge with.
One of the hardest twists in the plot line for me was learning that her brother was working for Jeanine: her only family left and the one person she had always trusted. Surprisingly, Peter’s role in this book was the biggest character turnaround – who decides that deep down he can’t die thinking he owes anything to anyone.
As the plot develops, it is clear that the Faction system is slowly deteriorating: not obviously at first and there are still many skeptical characters, but traditional ways of thinking are slowly slipping away. People with mindsets primarily based around selflessness also show bravery, and people with knowledge show they can also be truthful and selfless.
The book leads perfectly on to Allegiant…
What are your thoughts on Insurgent?