A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Insurgent -- the second installment in a dystopian trilogy that began with the best-selling Divergent -- follows a brave young heroine and her equally fierce, devoted boyfriend. Like most thrillers set in a futuristic, fractured society, this sequel has a lot of fraught situations, violent encounters, deaths, and the constant threat that the protagonist or her boyfriend will be killed or injured. While the language is mild, this book ups the romance from a few kisses to several passionate make-out sessions and even a declaration of love. Some teens (considered of age in the book) drink, and Tris is slipped a drug that loosens her inhibitions and makes her giddy. Many characters are killed or hurt, but in the end, there are thought-provoking messages about the best way to ensure a peaceful but productive society.
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What's the story?
After surviving the horrors of the day the Erudite (intelligent) faction controlled the Dauntless (brave) to invade the Abnegation (selfless) compound and kill many of its members, a grieving Tris and Tobias travel with a small group to seek answers and allies among the other factions. With the help of Tris' brother, Caleb; Tobias' abusive father, Marcus; and the Dauntless friends they reunite with, Tris and Four discover that a key to stopping the Erudite from pursuing their goal of complete domination is to align themselves with the factionless, who aren't the starving and homeless they were thought to be but rather a highly organized and militarized group of outcasts led by someone with connections to Tobias. When Tris decides the only way to help the cause is to turn herself in to the Erudite, she doesn't realize that Tobias will stop at nothing to save her -- and their cause.
Is it any good?
Once again, Veronica Roth has created a pulse-quickening plot that delves further into the dysfunctional governing structure of factions that either collaborate or can't stand each other. In the tradition of second installments, Roth introduces in-depth exposition, new characters, seemingly unsurmountable challenges, and cliffhanger-level twists to move the story forward. The factionless folks are particularly fascinating, since as the literal outcasts of the book's highly stratified society, they're unpredictable and free thinking. It's also refreshing to have so many women as leaders, even though they have completely opposing agendas.
As in Divergent, INSURGENT centers on Tris, a beautifully flawed heroine much in the Katniss Everdeen (of The Hunger Games) mold of fierce and unflinchingly courageous young women. Unlike Katniss, however, Tris only has eyes for Tobias/Four, and he for her. Their intensely mature relationship far surpasses many of the superficial romances in young adult books. With a devotion and a certainty that belies their age, Tris and Tobias face each obstacle as equal partners who will do anything and everything to keep everyone safe in unthinkably dangerous world.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the growing popularity of dystopian books aimed at teens. Why are stories set in a dangerous future such a hot trend? What are some of the best examples of the genre?
Which characters or factions' philosophies do you agree with? Which Faction do you think you'd belong to?
How are Tris and Four different from other teen-lit couples? Why are central love stories in a series less common than love triangles? Which do you prefer?
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