I started Insurgent directly after finishing Divergent and was prepared for the same fast paced action and drama as the first installment in this trilogy. What I wasn't prepared for was the Twilight-like, gag-reflex-inducing romance of the first half of the book paired with Mockingjay style mental breakdown. (I'm actually a little embarrassed to admit that I've read enough YA fiction to make these comparisons.)
Bella, excuse me, I mean Tris, spends a lot of time in this novel gushing about her great love for the boy she met a month ago and calculating how it would be possible to sacrifice herself to somehow save him. This is when she is not avoiding holding a gun - even when part of a dangerous mission - because it reminds her too much of the horrible things she has been forced to do. This ties in very well with her desire to just die so that she can join her parents in the afterlife. Only when moments away from supposedly eminent death does she get a mental slap and realize, "Oh wait, I'm being an idiot."
I may be a little harsh, but the first book raised my expectations for this one and I was disappointed with the romantic focus and having to be told how much smarter and more perceptive Tris was compared to others because her actions were certainly not showing it. We learn more about the factionless, family secrets, and the "big secret" in this novel. The big secret that cannot simply be told, except that when it is discovered **spoiler alert**, it is a video just telling it. Um, ok. Good thing we risked lives to obtain proof of what at least a few people already knew. I did also feel that the twists and secrets were all a little bit predictable . . . except for one . . .
The most significant positive aspect of this book is the way the author gives the reader a moral lesson without it sounding like a moral lesson. Through the qualities of the different factions and those who choose to switch or are torn between them, we are forced to think about how we treat others and what characteristics make us think less or more of people. We also don't have to stereotype. Maybe someone who is really smart can also be brave, or someone who is selfless could be abusive. Roth opens the reader's mind to accepting people for who they are and knowing that we each make a valuable contribution.
While I will certainly read the final installment of this trilogy when it comes out this fall, I hope that Roth goes back to the action and suspense of Divergent.