Insurgent: The Divergent Series, Book 2, by Veronica Roth. This Eagerly Awaited Book-to-Movie now out in Theaters!

March 18, 2015

Book Review by: Sharon Powers.

     Last year on March 21, 2014, the movie, Divergent, came to the big screen; this year, in just a few short weeks, on March 20, 2015, Veronica Roth’s second book in the Divergent series, Insurgent, becomes a book-to-movie, and will open in theaters.
     For fans of the Divergent series, as the date for the opening draws near, the long-awaited movie promises to satiate desires to see the book come alive on the big screen. And, although one can never tell whether or not an adaptation of a book to a movie will be a good one, at least fans know that book one’s adaptation was successful. This means that hopes are high for a repeat of success and that the movie will be as exciting as their enjoyment of the book.
     Let’s begin our look at Insurgent, by Veronica Roth, by garnering a look at the synopsis. This a good place to begin, so everyone will know what the book is about.
     At the end of Divergent, we learn that Tris, Four (Tobias Eaton), Caleb (Tris’s brother), Marcus (Four’s/Tobias’s father), and Peter (from Dauntless & Tris’s enemy) jump on a train headed towards the “Amity” section of the city. Tris mourns her parents who died sacrificing themselves for others; Four confesses to Tris that he, “might be in love with [her]” (Divergent, p.485). After this, Four confesses that he really does love her, not just, “might be in love with [her].” And then, in the last couple of paragraphs before the end, Tris spies Marcus “greedily” eying the hard drive in her hands. Tris thinks that they are all like a leaf separated from a tree–having left everything behind, that they, too, are like the factionless.
     In the opening pages of Insurgent, the reader is back on the train heading towards the Amity compound. Having nodded off to sleep, Tris sees Will “crumple to the pavement, again. Dead. “Then, waking her, Four (Tobias), tells Tris that, “[they] have to jump” (p1). They jump off the train, one-by-one and then make their way to Amity headquarters.
     For a fun read, see the article by Jonah Lehrer entitled, “Spoilers Don’t Spoil Anything.” After clicking on this link, make sure you are on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Science.” Then, go to the bottom of the page and hit the page right arrow until you get to August 10, 2011. You will find the article there. [3]

Psychologically, Tris suffers from
both grief and guilt over the death
of her friend, Will. She doesn’t under-
stand what’s happening to her, and
she won’t talk to anyone about her
problem. When  Tris unrealistically
takes on the responsibility for killing
Will (when it was really self defense);
in a way, Tris takes on this responsibil-
ity to maintain the illusion of control,
AND as an excuse to take life-
endangering behavior. [5]

     It is at the beginning of Insurgent, then, that we discover that Tris is haunted by the death of her friend, Will. She keeps seeing herself shoot Will, and then, him crumpling to the pavement. Her grief and guilt threaten to overwhelm her; unable to cope with Will’s death at her hands, she acts recklessly, putting her life in danger, time after time. Then, because of those reckless choices to endanger herself to the point, her relationship with Four is damaged to the extent that he threatens to end their relationship if she continues choosing life-endangering behavior. Grief and guilt is, indeed, a dangerous combination.

     It seems as if the group had hardly arrived at Amity when Erudite raided the compound, and the Dauntless group fled. This time their flight for safety leads them to the factionless area of the city [It is with the factionless, that one of the book’s big shockers happen!], and Dauntless agrees to an alliance with the factionl. Seeking the Candor faction’s help and an alliance with them, a trip is made to Candor HQ (headquarters) where Tris and Four are arrested.


     After Four and Tris are arrested as traitors, they are put on trial. To prove the two were not traitors, they are injected with truth serum and then they undergo interrogation in front of everyone. You know, of course, that secret things come out here–both for Four and Tris. The interrogation by Candor representatives adds to the already strained relationship the two are having due to Tris’s identity problems, loss of her parents, and the grief and guilt that went along with Tris’s killing of Will. This section of the book has real heartbreaking moments for readers to explore.

Dauntless Traitors who sided with the Erudite faction,
wear the Erudite color blue to show allegiance to Erudite.
The armbands are stitched onto the jackets and
cannot be simply untied and taken off. [7]

     Not long after the trial, another shocking scene explodes onto the pages of the book–the Candor compound is attacked by the “Traitor Dauntless” who are loyal, now, to Jeanine (and Erudite). The attack team is lead by none other that a former Dauntless leader, Eric. During the attack, shocking incidents occur. It is during this raid that Eric is captured. Since new Dauntless leadership is needed, Tobias, Tori and (an unknown character) Harrison, are voted-in; the three take over the leadership roles. Eric is interrogated and put on trial–you will not believe what he reveals and what happens after his interrogation is completed.

     Shortly after, the Dauntless grab their few possessions and flee the Candor compound. Returning to their former home at the Dauntless compound, they discover that many of the Dauntless were marked with a kind of tracker (during the attack by the Traitor Dauntless at Candor’s HQ). The tracker was created so that any given individual’s tracker could be activated and those controlled would do whatever nightmare sim (simulation) they are called upon to do.

The above graphic image is a gif showing
Marlene after she “delivers” Jeanine’s message to the
Dauntless–she jumps off of the roof in the horrible
“nightmare” sim and dies. [8]

     Action comes fast and furious, now. The Dauntless make allies of the factionless (since none can be made with either Amity or Candor); nonetheless, Tris doesn’t trust the factionless leadership. Then, Jeanine activates the new nightmare-like sims among a few selected Dauntless; in fact, Marlene (a Dauntless), delivers a message to the Dauntless from Jeanine, that every two days more Dauntless will be selected to die unless one of the Divergent surrender themselves to Erudite HQ. Marlene, quite suddenly, jumps to her death from the top of the roof–unable to get out of the nightmarish sim Jeanine sent the the selected Dauntless.

     Other secret alliances are made–who aligns with whom–will shock you! And, as far as the open alliance with the factionless, Tris harbors her own secret reasons why she doesn’t trust the new alliance with the factionless, while Four insists in trusting them. With all the secret alliances that are made and keeping the truth from one another will impact everyone, but just how it will, only time will tell.

Jeanine Matthews [9]

     An assault is planned on Erudite HQ with Dauntless and Factionless participating; it seems as if everyone wants the data on Jeanine’s computer and many would kill Jeanine if they could get their hands on her. Tori especially would like to exact revenge for her brother’s murder at the hands of Erudite leadership (i.e. Jeanine).

     Tris, accompanying another, more clandestine group, makes her way to Amity, from which they head out with taser-like weapons toward the Erudite HQ. Meanwhile, the official group with Tobias and many others, including the factionless also head to assault Erudite HQ. Both groups succeed in getting in, and race to Jeanine’s secure office where the data is kept.

Evelyn and Edgar. Evelyn is leader of the factionless–she
takes over leadership after the assault on Erudite HQ,
essentially ousting the Dauntless faction (by collecting
their guns and leaving them without any way in which to
either defend themselves or to fight back to regain their
leverage). What will the Dauntless and Divergent do now?
And…personally, when I read the book, I never saw Evelyn
like a beautiful Naomi Watts. For me, Naomi Watts just
looked too young and beautiful for her to portray Evelyn. [10]

     Tris fights her way through a room where she is ensnared in a difficult sim; finally making it through the sim, Tris enters Jeanine’s office as Tori is about to kill Jeanine. Tris tries to stop Tori from killing Jeanine so that Jeanine can retrieve the encrypted files of data from her computer. Tori refuses and then, Tris and Tori fight–Tori winning. In only a moment, Tori stabs Jeanine to death.

     Tori has Tris and her companions arrested as traitors and set to be tried as such. The group are all taken down to the lobby to sit on the floor in a group, under armed guard. Feeling dejected because they didn’t get the data, Tris is faced with another heart-rending death that unfolds right in front of her (might I say, “again”?). The group continues to wait in the lobby with others (captured Erudite faction members) being held there, when suddenly, a video recording is played to everyone in the lobby, up on the wall. What? The missing data concealed from everyone by Jeanine? Who is playing the vid?

     The data that is revealed indicates that the Divergent are the key to saving the world. And then…another bombshell as the person on the vid reveals a shocking secret–everyone in the lobby is stunned to silence….Suddenly, everyone in the lobby starts yelling! End of Insurgent.

     If you’ve read the book, you know that this is a real HUGE cliffhanger! What the heck was revealed? What will happen, now? Only by reading, Insurgent, and Allegiant: The Divergent Series, Book 3, will you know.

I’ve often heard the analogy about
people’s personalities being like an
onion, and you have to peel away the
layers to get to know them. Also, as
regards secrets, it can be said that
used as a metaphor, and following
the quote, “People…are layers and
layers of secrets,” that the metaphor
seems to be apropos. [11]


People, I have discovered, are layers and layers of secrets. You believe you know them, that you understand them, but their motives are always hidden from you, buried in their own hearts. You will never know them, but sometimes you decide to trust them. (p.510)

     This quote was sandwiched (pardon the pun) in between a discussion about Tori, and a discussion about their sentences when the court convened and found them guilty. The consensus was that “…they’re going to force us to eat lots of cake and then take an unreasonably long nap” (p.510) OK. I think we can agree that this is black humor (you know, eating cake and being executed–i.e. “forced…[to] take an unreasonably long nap”).


You may have seen this simple, but
effective art work around on the net.
The very simplicity and stark color
changes really make the image work.
The artist is a ten-year-old boy. [12]

     I’d like to address a common writing technique and how it impacts the story. “Which one?” you ask? Well, that would be how the Dystopian genre impacts or predicates certain parts of a story.

     In a previous blog post I gave you a kind of “nutshell” version of the dystopian society. If you like, you can see that post by clicking here. I can better explain how I feel about Insurgent by addressing what a dystopian society embodies. To start with, we should know that a dystopian society is one that is undesirable in some way or harmful or unpleasant. Dystopian stories may end in an unsatisfying manner or the goals of the protagonist may be achieved, but the protagonist dies. Moreover, the unpleasantness is usually due to a dramatic decline in society, for example, an apocalypse. These unpleasant side effects usually center around the following:



  • In Roth’s first book in the trilogy, Divergent, she created a strata in society of individuals based on the innate abilities and inclina- tions of those individ- uals: Amity, Erudite, Dauntless, Abnegation, and Candor. The grouping is very similar to Aldus Huxley’s dys- topian novel, Brave New World where Huxley also stratified society into five groups: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. The stratification of society makes it easy to exert CONTROL over individuals.
  • [14]
  • CONTROL OF INDIVIDUALS THROUGH VARIOUS TYPES OF PROPAGANDA: By breaking society into strata, the government or controlling body can keep people from communication, it can have the effect of causing one set of individuals to dislike other groups and make the group feel their group is the best and the others are _________ (bad, evil, strange, sick, poor, etc.). Control of the population may be exercised in different ways. Here are the main ways propaganda is used to control society:
CORPORATE CONTROL: One or more large corporations control society through products, advertising, and/or the media. Examples include Minority Report and Running Man.
BUREAUCRATIC CONTROL: This kind of control utilizes a mindless bureaucracy through a tangle of red tape, endless regulations and incompetent or corrupt government officials. An example of a movie with these aspects is the movie, Brazil.
POLITICS (THE GOVERNMENT) AND ECONOM- ICS: This one may cross over a bit with some of the other methods of control, for example, “Bureaucratic Control.” An example of this type would be, V for Vendetta and The Hunger Games. The same can be said about (about crossing over):
VIOLENCE: Creating a war, schism, or some other issue that causes society members to take up fighting, war, or other type ofppression. See, Judge Dredd, Mad Maxx, or The Running Man.

TECHNOLOGICAL CONTROL: Control of societal members is accomplished through technology like, computers, robots, and/or through scientific means. Examples of these woud be, I, Robot, The Matrix, and The Terminator
PHILOSOPHICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, OR RELIGIOUS CONTROL (ALSO, BY CREAT- ING FEAR): Control of individuals through these philosophical, psychological, or religious ideologies will often see the control going to either a theocratic government or a dictatorship. An example of this would be: Brave New World; A Canticle for Liebowitz; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and (control through creating fear, say, of our bodies) The Handmaid’s Tale.
Citizens are required to conform to uniform expectations. In Divergent, and Insurgent, each faction must live by a set of standards of behavior and even types of clothing, styles, and customs. Pressure is exerted by family, friends, government, and at work, to follow the expectations and rules. This could be any number of books, but how about taking a look at another dystopian novel I reviewed on 
 The outside world is perceived as dangerous, deadly, and to be FEARED. In fact, in The Divergent Series, the wall is to keep individuals in as well as to keep out the unknown dangers beyond the fence. The fences is tall (as you can see from the movie, Divergent) with a huge concrete base, metal and wire atop the base, and it is patrolled by armed guards. I would believe the dangers were severe and , of course, this fence would be needed to keep out the “horrible threat(s)” beyond the fence.This is effective indoctrination, but who, exactly, was the person or group who gave life to  it? [17]

Through indoctrination, education, and training, members came to believe that the natural world (outside the fence in Insurgence) is hostile and dangerous, engendering FEAR of the outside world. The fenced-in-city (Chicago) is very much like a prison where information, freedom, and independent thought are restricted. Also, by utilizing propaganda, the powers that be can control dissemination of information, hide secrets, and make individuals conform to societies rules. Other examples include: Nineteen-Eighty-Four, and Fahrenheit 451. (14)
“I belonged to a new underclass, no longer determined
by social status or the color of your skin. No, we now
have discrimination down to a science,” explains
Vincent. (Gattaca, the film.) [17] I love the DNA
below the ship on the poster. This a great poster for the
movie, as an example of CONTROL THROUGH
, AND SCIENCE. Gattaca [the novel],
was written by Frederic P. Miller, and
Agnes F. Vandome. [18]

If you’ve seen the movie, Gattica, you know that the ability to move up in society depends almost entirely on identity–as verified by DNA (so this control could also fit in technological or control by science, too. [19]


This type of control can be identified by the amount of pollution tolerated, not having sufficient supplies, including food. Examples of this control would be: Avatar; Soylent Green; Logan’s Run; and Wall-E


Control of individuals may also be obtained through use of either ethics, and/or science. A couple of great example of this type would be, Blade Runner and I, Robot.


I left “Control Gained Through Family” until last because it is one of the most important, critical aspects of dystopian society. The government seeks to destroy or control social interaction by exerting rigid controls on the family. Take a look at what happens in our book, Divergent Trilogy. If a coming-of-age person chooses a faction alien to their family of origin, they lose their family. And if they fail their “initiate” stage of training, they are, likewise, thrust of into a factionless world without family or support of loved ones. The family is broken apart.


     So, the faction (The Divergent Tril- ogy) now serves as a substitute for the family unit. Because of the decline of socie;ty before the present time, due to war, death, fighting, rampant diseases, etc. Also, because the people of that time had so desired the unpleasantness to end that they merely traded one kind of unpleasant- ness for another. Therefore, instead of war, diseases, etc., they would have peace, stability, and oneness–but at a cost–very restrictive and unpleasant side-effects. The individual accepted CONTROL over his or her life to obtain the peace and oneness that they so desired. [20]


Some of the aspects of the dystopian protagonist can also be found in Joseph Campbell’s, Hero’s Journey. For example, Luke Skywalker felt trapped on the farm and looked for any reason to leave. We can find another example from the Star Wars story where the hero’s journey meets at the crossroads with the “Dystopian Protagonist.” Young Anakin Skywalker suffered in slavery with his mother and often questioned the wrongness of enslaving people–ironically, as an adult, renamed Darth Vader, Anakin used mind control to exact FEAR and obedience from others. In other words, you must look closely at the protagonist to see if he or she was written with the Dystopian or The Hero’s Journey in mind. [20]

“Foreshadowing . . . Literally!” [Here, we see young
Anaken Skywalker with a “foreshadowing”
of his future self. [23]

     So, if the two examples I gave you in the, above, kparagraph are similar to each other in both the “Dystopian Protagonist,” and in The Hefro’s Journey way, what is it that’s different about a protagonist in a dystopian novel that makes them different from one who is on a Campbell’s-style, hero’s journey? In addition to feeling boxed-in and wanting to escape like Luke Skywalker, consider the following:

(1) The protagonist has a feeling, though he/she cannot prove it, that something is terribly wrong with the way society is being run;

(2) The dystopian protagonist also questions the political or social system in which he/she lives;
(3) The protagonist’s reaction to the imposition of controls by the political (or social system) helps the reader to recognize the “wrongness” of society and its systems.
(4) The dystopian protagonist is often seen breaking rules or questioning authority that has been placed or her/him. This one may be difficult to identify because it is also seen in other NON-dystopian novels–like the quintessential “coming-of-age” novels;
(5) Character development is important, too. The protagonist’s struggle to be free, independent, and to know oneself is essential; but, just as important is the protagonist’s internal warring needs to come to terms with inner desires, needs, and identity;
(6) The protagonist is likely (but, not always) to be an anti-hero;
(7) Do you see any foreshadowing in the story? Here, you should think about the themes, motifs,  and symbols, that you read in the story to help identify foreshadowing. [24]



     Undoubtedly, since novels and movies following dystopian themes are so popular and very prevalent in society, right now, assuredly we will be seeing more from this genre, again. Because the dystopian genre is seen in everything from television shows, like The Walking Dead, video, console, or online games such as Fallout or Fallout New Vegas, and movies, like The Book of Eli, we may be able to reliably identify what a “Dystopian” genre is. Don’t jump to conclusions just because a story is after a war and call it dystopian. Many books are mislabeled as dystopian in nature  when, perhaps they are really a coming-of-age story or a “Hero’s Journey” story. Don’t be hasty in your judgment. Take your time, think about it, and if you need to, just refer back to the list I have given you. [25] You can ask yourself the nutshell version, if it helps:


(1) STRATIFICATION of society;
(2) CONTROL of Individuals (through one of the methods listed, above);
(3) FAMILY is under scrutiny, closely monitored, and broken apart at least in some way; ask, if society or another public entity takes the place of the family (just as it does in Divergent and Insurgent);
(4) PROTAGONIST: Can you identify a “Dystopian Protagonist”?


     Even though this has been a rather long blog post, I still did not cover all that could be covered in depth. For example, I very much enjoyed the trope of “choices” and “consequences.” Do you remember this quote from the book? “One choice can transform you,”? and, what about, “You die, I die too”? Tobias looks over his shoulder at me. “Iasked you not to do this. You made your decision. “These are the repercussions.” Choice and consequence are seen throughout Insurgence–so pay attention to this (and other things that are often repeated); examen repeated things to see if they are part of a theme, symbol, or motif, or even perhaps, foreshadowing.].


     First, this book is for adults, or young adults fitting into the category of YA readers. The book is appropriate for all readers who fit into these categories, but for those who are considered sensitive, those individuals should think about the themes before they read. By that, I mean, violence, bloodshed, guns, shootings, knifing, conspiracy, post-apocalyptic settings, suicide, murder, graphic executions, imprisonment, torture by psychological means, etc.


MY RATING: I really enjoyed reading this book because Ms. Roth had me hooked when I read Book one (Divergent). So, for all the reasons I have stated, above, I award this wonderful book a rating of 4.0 stars out of 5.0 stars. Congratulations to Veronica Roth for all her success, and also for her excellent writing in the series. I look forward to reading more books by Veronica Roth.

     Thank you for joining me today and hanging in ther through this long blog post. I offer you a heartfelt thank you for taking time to be with me today. Please join me next time as we will be taking a look at a brand new book–very different from this one.

Until next time . . .

This flower is a double white Rose of Sharon. [30]

…many happy pages of reading!

My very best to you all.




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[2] I might be in love with you.” Retrieved 03f-07-15.
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[13] Social Stratification as Explained Through Rock Stratification.” Retrieved 03-10-15.
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[20] Common Elements of Dystopian Novels.” Retrieved 03-12-15.
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[22] Me Against The World.” [Dystopian Protagonist] Retrieved 03-12-15.
[23] Foreshadowing.” Retrieved 03-12-15.
[24] Dystopian Literature Primer.” Retrieved 03-12-15.
[25] Dystopian Fiction: What is it Really? Retrieved 03-11-15.
[25.5] Fallout New Vegas.” Retrieved 03-12-15.
[26] Insurgent: Divergent Series, Book 2.” [hardcover edition] Retrieved 03-07-15.
[27] Choices Have Consequences.” Retrieved 03-12-15.
[28] Veronica Roth.[photo] Retrieved 03-12-15.
[29] Review: The Wolf of Wallstreet.” Retrieved 03-12-15.
[30] Pictures From My Garden.” Retrieved 03-12-15.
[31] Big Brother is Watching You.” Retrieved 03-11-15.

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