I knew heading in that the second book in the Divergent series was kind of a train wreck, but I am a completist. I am persistent and stubborn and I was on a strong female protagonist kick! I wanted something better, but it was as bad as I had been warned.
This second novel seemingly takes place immediately after Divergent ends, although it is hard to know for certain, as Roth is not very good at giving the reader a sense of the time passing. The city and it’s factions are clashing, wrestling for control. Into the middle of it all, of course, is Tris and her friends. This is a bridge book, really, taking the reader from the pretty interesting story found in Divergent and delivering us all to the inevitable clash and discord of the third and final book.
There are still interesting moments in the books, which occur largely when the reader is able to visit the other factions (Candor, Erudite, Amity) at their homes. In particular, the limited time the characters visit the Amity compound and the factionless warehouse are nice contrasts to what was depicted in Divergent. There are so many cliches, but those scenes are distinct, at least. The rest of the book is a blur of whining and tantrums and triple crosses. The romance between Tris and Four continues here, limping along with endless fights with people who just do not know how to communicate, with endless secrets and trust issues. It’s boring and repetitive, and even on paper they do not seem to have any chemistry. Worse, this book begins the character assassination of Tris, who was a pretty great protagonist in the first book. I have to assume she is suffering some type of unaddressed PTSD in this book, but she makes consistently terrible decisions here. Even when she makes decisions, her agency is removed by gradually furthering her as a very special snowflake character. In the earlier novel, she made intelligent decisions based on her complex thinking patterns, which was great. Beginning here, she begins to be remarkable for some seemingly superhuman abilities, along with a suddenly very special family history. COINCIDENTALLY, her boyfriend is also from a suddenly very special family.
It’s all just lame and disappointing. Tris is annoying and childish in this book, the plot is repetitive and convoluted, and the romance aspect continues to be uninspiring. The characterization is thin and the relationships between these people seems ever more tenuous. I finished the series, but it certainly wasn’t with the excitement I felt after finishing Divergent.