In a dystopian Chicago, the path to peace and cooperation has been paved by isolating five characteristics—honesty, intelligence, kindness, bravery, and selflessness—all of which positively contribute to society. At the age of 16, each citizen must take an aptitude test to find the trait he or she displays most, then join and live with that faction.
However, what happens when the test tells you that you possess more than one of the five faction traits? That is the situation in which young Beatrice Prior finds herself in Veronica Roth’s Divergent. The novel follows Beatrice as she makes choices that will change her life forever. Roth’s newly released sequel Insurgent, picks up where the first novel left off and Beatrice must face the consequences of the decisions she made.
Though Insurgent is only Roth’s second novel, the young author is already beginning to gain notoriety and develop her writing style. While Insurgent is a sequel, the novel offers a new and deeper look into the faction system and can leave a reader contemplating what it really means to be brave, selfless, or intelligent.
What Roth does well in both her novels is create a sense of perpetual suspense and mystery. Every time Beatrice learns something new about her test results, or the structure of the factions, another puzzle begins and she—much like the reader—is continuously kept in the dark. This chase for information may become frustrating for some readers, but others will enjoy Insurgent’s exciting hunt for the truth, in addition to its romantic and violent subplots.
When it comes to violence, Insurgent takes a surprising and somewhat jarring step away from the combat simulations and hand- to-hand fighting styles that frequented the pages of the first series installment. Instead, Insurgent deals with violence in a much more serious and grave manner.
Roth does not hesitate to use lethal ways of removing major characters and in this sequel it becomes clear no one is safe. The death toll in Insurgent even rivals that of The Hunger Games series, but that isn’t the only comparison to make.
Between the conflict with factions or districts, and the nature of technology and violence, Beatrice and Katniss have much in common. If fans of The Hunger Games need something to fill the district-sized void in their lives, then Divergent and Insurgent are definitely good places to start.