From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
While the hugely popular Divergent (2011) welcomed dystopian fans of every stripe with its irresistable concept and hybridization of genres, this sequel is more for hard-core fans a good thing if you're a devotee but a bit overwhelming for fence-riders. Rocked by the recent simulation war, the five factions engage in increasingly dangerous power plays to pick up the pieces. Tris and her love, Tobias, both daredevils of the Dauntless faction, are key players in these skirmishes, most of which focus upon the fiendishly logical Erudites and almost all of which are complicated by backstabbers and turncoats. It remains a great deal of fun to watch these cliques-taken-to-extremes duke it out with their various strengths and weaknesses, and Roth delivers the goods when it comes to intense, personal violence (no superpowers to be found here) and compelling set pieces (as when Tris undergoes a public truth serum interrogation). Newcomers, and even some old hands, might get buried under all the transposable characters and faction minutia, but those who stick it out will be rewarded with quite the cliff-hanger HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Divergent was the kind of best-seller juggernaut debut authors dream of. With high-profile movie rights already sold, you can bet you'll see this sequel on everyone's must-read list.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Gr 9 Up-Insurgent continues Roth's dystopian cycle that began with Divergent (HarperCollins, 2011), and the beginning of the story will be confusing to those who have not read the previous book. As the novel opens, the protagonists are undergoing interrogation via truth serum, thus revealing the major events only sketchily alluded to before. This backstory keeps readers disengaged for too long. Roth's saga has at its center the division of humanity into factions based on their performance on aptitude tests. (These factions are Amity, Abnegation, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite.) Originally intended as a benign method of governing, the separation into classes has devolved to the dominance by the Erudites. The members of each faction undergo "Simulations"-gaming during which the participants lose their free will and become killing machines. Tris is a Divergent, meaning that she has aptitude for more than one faction, and is immune to the simulation mind control. She and her teacher, Tobias, join with a group of people called the "Factionless," who form the nucleus of the revolt. Insurgent explores several critical themes, including the importance of family and the crippling power of grief at its loss. One of the novel's finest tropes describes this loss as "teetering on the edge of grief's mouth." A very good read, despite its difficulties.-Nina Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, ME (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Roth knows how to write. So even though this second book of the trilogy that began with Divergent feels like a necessary bridge between the haunting story she created in book one and the hinted-at chaos of book three, readers will be quick to forgive. Tris, reeling from the loss of her parents and guilt-ridden over having shot her best friend, must escape the Erudite faction's horrific takeover by fleeing first to Amity and then Candor. Reluctantly, she joins forces with the "factionless" to defeat Erudite. As stubborn and self-destructive as ever, Tris butts heads with Tobias and tests everyone's (perhaps even readers') patience. Roth keeps every chapter action-packed, moving Tris tantalizingly close to learning the secret her parents were fighting to unleash. The author has a subtle way of pulling readers into a scene ("The outside air.... smells green, the way a leaf does when you tear it in half"), and the novel's love story, intricate plot, and unforgettable setting work in concert to deliver a novel that will rivet fans of the first book. Ages 14-up. Agent: Joanna Volpe, Nancy Coffey Literary and Media Representation. (May)? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.