Thursday, June 7, 2012

Veronica Roth Unveils The Insurgent

In the first book of the Divergent trilogy, author Veronica Roth pulls back the veil on three of five factions that populate the isolated, crumbling, and dystopian city of Chicago. In the second, she paints a complete picture of the society being torn down in front of 16-yeard-old protagonist Beatrice Prior (a.k.a. Tris).

Although described as a dystopia by readers and reviewers for its rigidness, the society itself was designed as a utopia — an answer to a world descending into anarchy under the weight of endless wars and escalating violence. For most people who live here, it makes sense and feels secure.

The five factions represent five virtues: candor (honesty), abnegation (selflessness), dauntless (bravery), amity (peacefulness), and the erudite (intelligence). The children of each are allowed to choose the one that best fits their personality type when they turn 16, with those who don't fit regulated to the factionless.

Insurgent propels this society toward its abrupt and unforgiving change. 

The construction of most utopian societies are always meant with the best intentions. In the world of Roth, young adults are allowed to pick their places. The ones with a natural thirst for knowledge always gravitate toward erudite (pronounced air-u-dyte). The ones who crave freedom, courage, and risk lean toward dauntless. The ones who are free-sprited, thoughtful, or objective choose their factions respectively.

In the triology, it's the existence of the factionless that represent the most apparent and immediate failings of the model. But beyond those who are cast aside, other seams of society begin to fray.

More and more people, called the divergent, exhibit an aptitude for more than one way of thinking (and more than one faction). And even though none of the divergent are organized (or even know of each other's existence), the erudite and dauntless factions believe such mental deviance is dangerous enough to warrant murder and extermination.

Along with the emergence of the divergent, the erudite no longer believe that selflessness is the most important quality of leadership. Their leader, Jeannine Matthews, has carefully crafted a plan to unseat the selfless and improve the city's fragile utopian model. The first part of this plan plays out in book one, leaving the dauntless faction divided.

The erudite aren't the only ones who see an opportunity for change. With the one militant faction split, the factionless see an opportunity to remove the faction system once and for all. It's plausible. Despite the so-called wretchedness of their lives, many of them are former dauntless members who have grown too frail for their stations or initiates who failed to pass initiation.

Insurgent moves from an individual challenge toward a societal conflict. 

Divergent largely played out as Tris choosing dauntless over abnegation, where she was born and raised. Her fish-out-of-water story is a transformation, seeing her move from a faction that diminishes individualism to one that encourages and celebrates it. Throughout, she remains conflicted about her choice, sometimes appalled at the faction's cruelty but always in awe over its freedom.

While Tris is still the center, Insurgent forces the other factions to make uncomfortable choices as refugees show up outside their compounds. So while Tris may have grown more comfortable with dauntless, neither amity nor candor will be comfortable with the choices they must make.

Both are most interested in preserving their way of life: amity as a safe harbor for anyone involved and candor in its desire for objective negotiation. As this leaves the dwindling independent dauntless members without any allies, Tris and the new dauntless leaders are forced to consider a shaky alliance with those they despise the most — the factionless.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth Ignites 8.9 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

While there are moments in Insurgent that will remind you that the trilogy was written for young adults, it moves at a quick pace as the primary characters race to find safety and an alliance on the eve of war. All the while, there is another mystery beginning to surface that could make every decision they have made meaningless or even deadly.

Insurgent (Divergent Trilogy) by Veronica Roth is available on Amazon and the book can be ordered from Barnes & Noble. You can also download the book for iBooks. iTunes carries the audio version, which continues with narrator Emma Galvin. Galvin breathes life into the heroine Tris, making her convincing — even when she delivers a line or two that sound like an ordinary teenager in this world rather than her alternative world.
blog comments powered by Disqus