****Book 1 Spoilers Ahead****
(Click here to read my review of Divergent)
With their home factions decimated and scattered by the onset of the war, Tris, Tobias, and their few allies are shuffled back and forth between the other factions and the factionless population, looking for any chance of organized resistance against the Erudite faction and their megalomaniacal leader, Jeanine.
A lot more talk, a lot less of the action that made the first one so enjoyable in its way. Tris and Tobias spend most of the book arguing, usually without making much progress on their issues or anything else. The minor characters' drama comes into the spotlight too but manages to make them only slightly more distinct than they were in the first book, and even more time is spent on political intrigue, the intriguing parts of which depend heavily on suspense (what's outside the fence?!) that isn't particularly suspenseful to any existing fan of sci-fi.
There are parts of the increased character focus that do work. Tris's PTSD from the first book is not shaken off lightly, and her slow recovery arc into accepting being alive is a highlight. The breakdown of faction lines, while doing nothing to make most characters more memorable, does stop them from being as pigeonholed. The unsettling message that smart people are the bad guys and reckless hotheads are the good guys isn't completely gone, but the idea that all factions are made up of good and bad people who interpret their ideals differently gets through a little better. There's still quite a bit of bold and vivid action to go around, and the general chaotic feel of the storylines and exposition is also the feel of a transitional chapter, setting up the finale, which I'm looking forward to diving into.
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