Insurgent Ch25-26

SOMEONE RAIDS THE Dauntless kitchens and heats up the imperishables kept there, so we have a warm dinner that night.

Huh. So I guess the rest just rotted.

I can see why the apples wouldn’t be gleaned before they rot, since the factionless are trapped within the fence, although as soon as plot required it there’s a random hole so who knows really, but what kept them out of here? They knew the place was abandoned by both groups and that factions each have a stockpile of food. Plus, with Abnegation gone their only normal source of food just dried up.

Makes you wonder just what sort of atrocities the Dauntless used to commit that the factionless were too scared to loot the place. Especially when half of the factionless are former Dauntless.

I sit at the same table I used to claim with Christina, Al, and Will. From the moment I sit down, I feel a lump in my throat. How is it that only half of us are left?
I feel responsible for that. My forgiveness could have saved Al

Ah, it’s ragequit time.

This is why yesterday’s post was not this, again. Since this is the very start of the chapter, I just posted something else entirely and came back to this the next day. Good thing I have a nice backlog of posts. I suspect I’ll need more.

How is it that only half of us are left?
I feel responsible for that. My forgiveness could have saved Al, but I withheld it. My clearheadedness could have spared Will, but I could not summon it.

You can choose to read it as Tris just being messed up, but in the context of a world which blames women for what men do, that’s not how people will read it. It’s worsened by the fact there is no reason to be sure forgiveness would have prevented the suicide which only further plays into the idea there’s clear blame to be assigned in these cases, specifically to whatever woman is closest.

And the narrative does nothing to disclaim it, it just has her getting distracted chocolate cake, so it’s not even portraying her as irrationally guilty but making a statement of fact and then having her dismiss it as less important than dessert. Tris is now hitting that horrible Katniss spot where the narrative is simultaneously blaming her for things that aren’t her fault in the least while making her be terrible in completely different ways.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what kinds of books I’d recommend to kids recently, and one of the many things I thought was that Divergent was probably the best of the female action hero in dystopia genre I’ve seen so far – the worldbuilding was a hot mess, the plot careened off a cliff at the end, but Tris was really solid and most of the book was about her, so as a whole, a lot better than it was.

But it’s a trilogy, so to recommend one book means people who like it will go look for the next ones. And that means this thing, where Tris is criticized for her successes, shamed for behaving like a Dauntless, belittled for her gender and belittling others for objecting to being treated that way, and now this, undoing what was probably the most progressive thing about last book.

The many other innocent Dauntless she shot aren’t worthy of mourning, but the guy who killed himself after he fucked up his murder attempt? That’s something to feel real guilt over, because what are your feelings compared to how bad he felt about you not accepting everything he did to you?

I stare at the cake pile.
“There was cake?” I say, looking at my own plate, which is more sensibly stocked than Uriah’s.
“Yeah, someone just brought it out. Found a couple boxes of the mix in the back and baked it,” he says. “You can have a few bites of mine.”
“A few bites? So you’re planning on eating that mountain of cake by yourself?”
“Yes.” He looks confused. “Why?”
“Never mind.”

In lighter news, Dauntless are now too stupid to realize they can just get back up to get cake. The Erudite clearly filled this place with idiot gas, which was the reason it was abandoned, but unfortunately, they didn’t evacuate fast enough and as a result were no longer smart enough to remember why they left.

Tris informs us that Marlene and Uriah have a thing, Lynn is displeased. Let’s hope she’s crushing on Marlene and the unspecificed disasters spared gay people for once. It’s not fair gay people get to escape all the shitty dystopias, you know?

Then Tobias comes over to ask Tris to come chat.

“I have a meeting, and I want you there to help me read the situation.”
We walk up one of the paths that lines the Pit walls, toward the stairs that lead us to the Pire.
“Why do you need me to—”
“Because you’re better at it than I am.”

So women can be better, so long as they give up official power for their boyfriend.

Tris also notes Tobias did a fear landscape run and we learn one of his fears have been replaced by another.

We both break into a sprint. I find the fifth car and grab the handle on the side with my left hand, pulling as hard as I can. I try to swing my legs inside, but they don’t quite make it; they are dangerously close to the wheels—I shriek, and scrape my knee against the floor as I yank myself inside.
Tobias gets in after me and crouches by my side. I clutch my knee and grit my teeth.
“Here, let me see,” he says. He pushes my jeans up my leg and over my knee. His fingers leave streaks of cold on my skin, invisible to the eye, and I think about wrapping his shirt around my fist and pulling him in to kiss me; I think about pressing myself against him, but I can’t, because all our secrets would keep a space between us.
My knee is red with blood. “It’s shallow. It’ll heal quickly,” he says.
I nod. The pain is already subsiding. He rolls my jeans so they will stay up. I lie back, staring at the ceiling.

I like this as showing the arbitrary nature of the Dauntless’ life – it really isn’t about bravery or even fitness, you can just get unlucky at any time. But it’s hampered by it being Tris, not only a girl but a girl increasingly slotted into more and more female-dominated aspects. If it were Tobias ripping his leg open, it’d have worked far better to show that it could happen to anyone rather than implying Tris is just extra vulnerable.

But then, I’m not sure the author wasn’t going for the latter.

They meet Evelyn and Edward, because named characters must repeat and who cares that there must be scores of better qualified people than Edward even before we get into the fact Tobias isn’t fond of the guy.

They run before the train passes them, and jump in with almost as little trouble as Tobias. They must have been practicing.

Or, the factionless use the trains all the time. But maybe that never happened in this version.

I’d like to discuss an alliance.”
“An alliance,” repeats Edward. “And who gave you the authority to do that?”

No, seriously. Why the fuck is he there?

It’s not like the author is completely incapable of letting go of characters, it happened last book, and even if they are, well, Edward had a girlfriend. Myra could be here instead.

Myra was nearly as minor a character as Edward. In the previous book, we know almost nothing about Edward but that he’s top ranked and that he gets stabbed in the eye. Myra gets nearly as much barely-there characterization, in that she’s lower ranked and appears to have followed her boyfriend, then follows him again when he quits. Her motivation last book was based around her boyfriend, but now that she’s had to actually live with the consequences of that, how has she changed? And how does someone who isn’t anomalously a top fighter who chose every step of what happened act as a factionless, what’s that perspective look like?

Come to think of it – the face of the factionless is entirely the factionless by choice, isn’t it? It’s possible Edward would’ve been disqualified by his injury, but everyone insists it was his choice, and Evelyn was accepted into a faction and not only left but faked her death to do so.

There are a lot of times when it makes sense that the top people will be relatively more privileged, but none of that has lined up here.

The people who legitimately failed their initiation will know firsthand how stupidly arbitrary the judgement is – are the out of shape kids who failed to jump onto the train in Dauntless initiation less brave than the healthy kids who knew they could handle it? Even the kids who refuse to jump out over the wide gap that followed may well be braver for choosing factionlessness over pointless risk-taking – Tris, after all, only really managed the first few days because, as she explicitly said, she was more afraid of being factionless than being dead.

Dauntless kicked out of their faction for age or illness, meanwhile, are heavily trained adults barely past the prime of their lives, and ones that should already have major roles in training the rest of the factionless in combat.

At most, the factionless by birth may be lower status than those who had faction training, and even that depends on the degree of organization – at the least, since Evelyn it seems they’ve been pretty organized, and they otherwise have little to do so there’s nothing stopping them from training their kids in nothing but tactics and subterfuge and how to make a pipe bomb. I’d expect them to know more than fucking Edward, at the least, and having Evelyn flanked by an old Dauntless and a hard-eyed factionless fifteen year old would’ve actually shown us something about the factionless, as opposed to the fact for some reason the author thinks Edward is interesting in any way and needs more screentime to continue to be his one-dimensional self.

Evelyn, being a rebellion leader and therefore evil, demands ridiculous terms for the alliance:

“A guaranteed—and equal—place in whatever government forms after Erudite is destroyed



and full control over Erudite data after the attack. Clearly—”
“What are you going to do with the Erudite data?” I interrupt her.
“Obviously we will destroy it. The only way to deprive the Erudite of power is to deprive them of knowledge.”

Tris’ first instinct is to tell her she’s a fool. We are never told why she thought this because instead the rest of the paragraph is saying that if Erudite didn’t have their data then they wouldn’t have been able to kill her parents. Okay, so why did you think she was a fool?

“What would we receive in return, under those terms?” Tobias says.

Yes, “we want the same rights you have rather than starving to death while good food rots in your control” is clearly a horrible thing you should only allow if the other party makes it worth your while.

Evelyn reminds him the entire conversation was always about the fact they just need the factionless’ extra people to pull anything off.

“I am sure that Tori would also request the right to rid the world of Jeanine Matthews,” he says in a low voice.
I raise my eyebrows. I didn’t know that Tori’s hatred of Jeanine was common knowledge—or maybe it isn’t. He must know things about her that others don’t, now that he and Tori are leaders.
“I’m sure that could be arranged,” Evelyn replies. “I don’t care who kills her; I just want her dead.”

I don’t know why this is here or why it matters. If you know, tell me.

Meanwhile, Tris is feeling like maybe destroying Erudite is bad, but she has no idea why so she doesn’t say anything. You’re confused, Tris, because it’s a moment of OOC. Across two books across all universes, you viciously hate both knowledge and everything positive the Erudite want to do with knowledge, like prosperity. You even hate people talking about stuff they know.

Most of the Abnegation have graciously agreed to let us stay in their sector of the city to plan as they clean up the aftermath of the attack.”

So suddenly those guys are alive again. Why would Erudite let this happen when Abnegation has no allies or ways to defend themselves?

Not only that, but “most” does not mean “the survivors” but “the guys who aren’t following Marcus the still not shot in the head”.

“I’m afraid your father still commands the loyalty of many of them, and he advised them to avoid us when he came to visit a few days ago.” She smiles bitterly. “And they agreed, just as they did when he persuaded them to exile me.”
“They exiled you?” says Tobias. “I thought you left.”
“No, the Abnegation were inclined toward forgiveness and reconciliation, as you might expect. But your father has a lot of influence over the Abnegation, and he always has. I decided to leave rather than face the indignity of public exile.”
Tobias looks stunned.

And this interacts with her faking her death how? Or the fact she wanted to leave because he was probably going to beat her bloody?

They go, then Tris demands why she’s there since Tobias made the decision. Tobias unreasonably points out that hello, she didn’t object to anything.

“I don’t like it.”
“It has to be done.”
“I don’t think it does,” I say. “There has to be another way—”
“What other way?” he says, folding his arms. “You just don’t like her. You haven’t since you first met her.”
“Obviously I don’t like her! She abandoned you!”
“They exiled her. And if I decide to forgive her, you had better try to do it too! I’m the one who got left behind, not you.”
“This is about more than that. I don’t trust her.

So it’ll all come down to if the book is willing for the protagonist to be wrong about their gut instincts, which thus far have been Erudite quality but not icky Erudite because they’re instincts and not learnings.

It does not look promising.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter too much by this point what the resolution even is. Either she’ll be evil for no reason but being a woman in power and a revolutionary, OR it’s going to be a surprise twist that she isn’t because normally revolutionary women in power are automatically evil. The core problem is the narration has given us no actual reasons to distrust her but is taking it as given that her existing neutral and positive traits count as evil already.

I think she’s trying to use you.”

God, this book is just awful.

There’s been worse books, but with a lot of those you can tune out it because it’s shit all the way down, like Beautiful Creatures. This doesn’t have anything distracting from it. It’s just a lot of people saying stupid and contradictory things.

They argue about whether or not Tris is biased, and if actually Tobias is biased and only trusting his mom because she hates his dad like he does while Tris is sure he knows something important.

“This again? I thought we resolved this. He is a liar, Tris.”
“Yeah?” I raise my eyebrows. “Well, so is your mother. You think the Abnegation would really exile someone? Because I don’t.”
“Don’t talk about my mother that way.”

So no actual argument, and also no one on either side trying to address the fact that she both faked her death and just left on her own.

Next chapter, Tris is woken by calamity and dragged off, half-asleep, to find out that Erudite has turned the simulation on for a couple people. They’re now on th
I see three figures standing on the ledge, facing me. One is Marlene. One is Hector. One is someone I don’t recognize—a young Dauntless, barely eight years old, with a green streak in her hair.

This is a good idea.

This is what mars it: Candor has been proven wrong.

Even if Erudite is only using this against Dauntless, Candor has magic truth serum. Even if Candor wouldn’t accept Tris’ word as a divergent, we’ve got plenty of other witnesses here.

This shows that Erudite used a permanent transmitter for the attack, which in turn means they were always planning to take control of everyone they hit, which in turn means Candor’s only choice is to throw in with Dauntless.

At worst, they may have already been taken over, but the fact only three people are being controlled right now suggests that Erudite has a limit.

“We should all jump at them at once. I’ll take Hec, you—”
“We’ll risk shoving them off the roof if we do that. Stand by the girl, just in case.”
She is too young for this, I think, but I don’t have the heart to say it, because it means Marlene is old enough.
I stare at Marlene, whose eyes are blank like painted stones, like spheres of glass. I feel as if those stones are slipping down my throat and settling in my stomach, pulling me toward the ground. There is no way to get her off that ledge.

But in the moment now, this is pretty solid.

Marlene explains that every other day until a divergent surrenders to Erudite, their people will throw themselves off buildings.

For some reason, Tris has been thinking about how losing Hector would devastate everyone more, so she grabs him and lets Marlene go. The little girl is also grabbed, so…if they just had more people it seems grabbing would’ve worked fine for everybody. It seems like it’s all set up just to have Tris make the terrible choice of letting her friend die and saving someone else, but there’s no reason for it beyond drama.

Every two days until one of you delivers yourself to Erudite headquarters …
I will.
… this will happen again.
It will never happen again.

So basically it’s because the author decided the plot is Tris goes there so therefore Tris lets her friend die and then goes there.


  1. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
    And this interacts with her faking her death how? Or the fact she wanted to leave because he was probably going to beat her bloody?

    This is where the casual retconning started making me nervous.

    In Divergent, Evelyn died in childbirth. Tobias never seems to have a living younger sibling, so presumably the baby died, too. (A later accident or illness is possible, but I’d think Tobias would remember that child or have tried to protect him/her. Unless I’ve forgotten… the rewards of keeping the details straight are few when they change anyway.)

    Were the Abnegation holding off on exiling her until she’d birthed another little Abnegation? How did she substitute another body for her own when surrounded by people tending her as she gave birth? (Or do Abnegation leave laboring women to do it all alone, which should contribute to lowering the live birth rate even further?) Why didn’t anybody notice the dead body wasn’t identical to Evelyn? How did she manage to have a dreadful enough labor that dying was plausible, yet retain the vim and vigor to carry through her scheme?

    I’d respect Tris’ gut more if she asked some of these questions. Otherwise, it’s “look, Tobias’ mom is a battered woman who escaped the awful living situation, made a life for herself, and now wants to change the problematic social system… she must be EVIL.”

    1. Farla says:
      Tris definitely said death in childbirth with death of child. Either Abnegation always makes up detailed deaths for anyone who leaves or she faked a different death and they changed it to the childbirth thing. If she ran off after a stillbirth, say, they may have assumed suicide and given her a nicer death.

      None of this is of course possible because Tris and Tobias should’ve referenced the fact that Abnegation had some role in the coverup, and it doesn’t fit with how she says she left in exile before getting publicly exiled so all the adults would’ve known why she was gone.

      1. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
        My new headcanon is that Abnegation’s way of coping with people who leave outside the normal choosing at age 16 is by declaring them dead and holding the funeral. Therefore, all the grown-ups knew perfectly well what happened, but since Tris is habitually oblivious, she never figured it out.

        The issue of whether Evelyn was exiled or left first then becomes a matter of scheduling. A realistically flawed character who wasn’t slated to be EVIL could still plausibly posture a bit about “well, I chose to go factionless — it wasn’t really forced on me, even though my faction was about to force it on me.”

        1. Farla says:
          Therefore, all the grown-ups knew perfectly well what happened, but since Tris is habitually oblivious, she never figured it out.

          Come to think of it, given Abnegation are assholes who don’t let kids ask questions, and the fact it seems very few people actually do leave, it might be one of those things you don’t find out until you’re like thirty and oh, this Sunday there’s a meeting to vote on kicking this person out and decide what the funeral explanation will be.

          Given there’s no sign anyone has an actual record of who’s a member of what, the other factions might not know about it either, and Erudite finding out could be yet another reason they don’t like Abnegation – Abnegation officially claims none of their members ever leave as part of their general holier-than-thou bit.

  2. Wright of Void says:
    Next chapter, Tris is woken by calamity and dragged off, half-asleep, to find out that Erudite has turned the simulation on for a couple people. They’re now on th

    I believe this was cut off.

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