Insurgent Ch29-30

I FORGOT MY watch.
Minutes or hours later, when the panic subsides, that is what I most regret. Not coming here in the first place—that seemed like an obvious choice—but my bare wrist, which makes it impossible for me to know how long I have been sitting in this room.

This does seem a great example of your general failure to plan this in any way at all.

But the author sees no point in having Tris realize this. That’s why Tris feels so cartoonishly against thought – it’s not just that she acts without thinking, it’s that she’s also incapable of thinking about it afterward. If Tris recognized she’d rushed into this impulsively, and as a result she didn’t do a number of things she should’ve, it’d be good. What we have here makes it seem like this was just how she’d always act, minus forgetting a watch.

Soon I will honor my parents by dying as they died.

In a hail of bullets as they fought Erudite?

And if all they believed about death was true, soon I will join them in whatever comes next.

It’s interesting that this book wanted to keep religion as a background element but won’t commit enough to say God.

“Hello, Beatrice,” Jeanine says. She wears Erudite blue and Erudite spectacles and an Erudite look of superiority that I was taught by my father to hate.

And there is still no questioning of the fact that, before Erudite did anything worthy of it, she already hated them. Instead, she just informs us that currently she’s too numb to hate despite the fact “countless deaths” that apparently she alone is to blame for because seriously Tris she is flanked by the “traitor Dauntless” you keep mentioning as terrible and traitors.

How does Peter find himself in such a prestigious position, as Jeanine Matthews’s bodyguard? Where is the logic in that?

But Edward as Evelyn’s bodyguard, THAT made sense to you? It’s too late to expect this to mean anything, book. Much too late.

“I’d like to know what time it is,” I say.
“Would you,” she says. “That’s interesting.”
I should have known she wouldn’t tell me. Every piece of information she receives factors into her strategy

Well, at least Tris is thinking a little. Jeanine said they’ve very impressed she hasn’t just lunged at her yet, and Tris admits it’d be dumb, to which Jeanine says yes that’s why they were so sure she’d do it.

“I’m sixteen.” I purse my lips. “I change.”
“How refreshing.”

Bear in mind that this is supposedly taking place in a world where at sixteen you know what faction you’re suited for and they then give you an initiation test to determine if sixteen year old you is good enough for it, which determines if you stay there for the rest of your life or get kicked out to never have another chance.

It’s not just that Jeanine shouldn’t treat this as ordinary, it shouldn’t even exist. If anyone says it, it’d be the rallying cry of the factionless and the subversive elements that hate the system, and Tris has no connection to them at all. Now, if she’d talked to Evelyn, as opposed to puffing her fur and hissing at the woman occasionally, and Evelyn had talked about the factionless’ goals and beliefs, and maybe she’d chatted with other factionless, ones who weren’t there by choice but by test failures or birth, she’d have heard them talk about the absurdity of a faction system, how who they were at sixteen and who they are at twenty and who they’ll be at twenty-four aren’t identical, heard one of the factionless born her age saying they don’t even want to be part of this because “I’m sixteen. I change,” then this would’ve had a nice echo to it, where Tris is showing she’s no longer even solidly in the faction camp. (And such doubts would’ve given her an actual reason to refuse Dauntless leadership because she’s not sure she’s fully supporting the faction now, rather than that she’s completely Dauntless but her boyfriend says she should be different so she has to reject it.)

For no reason, she gets a tour. Like Candor, it’s a maze of unmarked hallways, and again we find that whatever they’re selecting for in Dauntless, it isn’t spacial awareness.

Although wait. Broadly speaking, women navigate by landmark and men by direction. Even assuming the factions are evenly distributed genderwise, the Dauntless seem to be selecting for higher testosterone, which means they should be more likely to navigate in a male way than not. For today’s moment of evolutionary psychology that isn’t about how unfair it is women aren’t having sex with the guy theorizing, the idea is women travel around by learning the area so they can go to the various points of interest in the most efficient way, while men go out long distances into unfamiliar areas, find something big, kill it, and turn around. You can see how that latter one fits quite well with pointing soldiers at a problem, so it’d also be the way of navigating they’d actually train Dauntless toward, and it fits the description of the fence-Dauntless going on occasional excersions beyond the fence.

So really, Dauntless should be better at navigating Candor or Erudite than those factions. Obviously the people living there have longer to learn, but instead of Tris being confused, she should be picking it up faster than they’d expect.

But of course no.

The hallway is long and pale. We turn a corner and walk down a second one exactly like the first. Two more hallways follow. I am so disoriented I could never find my way back.

It’s like the first book with Tris being competent and celebrated for it was just to lure you in for the standard tale of being pushed around by outside forces while she’s unable to do anything meaningful.

She then sees some Erudite using SCIENCE which means blue lab coats, “tool” “mixing multicolored liquids” and “computer screens”. Possibly serums, she thinks, or maybe it’s something else that’s just generic science, because Tris spits upon Occam’s razor.

She also informs us that everyone stops to watch as she’s paraded past, so this is reducing work and also proving that once again, Tris was an idiot for thinking there were lots of people here who had no idea what was going on.

Finally, Tris ends up at scary metal table simulation room. Jeanine tells us that she’s learned about Tris’ three aptitudes which is the STRONGEST DIVERGENT EVER while her boyfriend who wants to be all things is no big deal. Anyway, she figures if she can control the STRONGEST DIVERGENT EVER she’ll be able to control them all. Jeanine is a terrible scientist who has no idea if Tris actually has strong tendencies in all directions or just really weak ones so nothing stands out. Given how the test went, it’s also pretty plausible that if she hadn’t refused to answer the first one and taken the knife instead, she’d have just qualified as standard Dauntless – especially since her Abnegation score was for jumping the dog and we later saw that Abnegation are not, in fact, naturally any good at fighting in other people’s defense. Maybe jumping the dog without a weapon never happens and Tori just fucked up the scoring there? Like, if you’ve Dauntless, you start stabbing the dog to drive it away, then it goes and attacks someone else and you have to kill it then.

Incidentally, Tris doesn’t even seem to register her supposed sacrifice is actually just dooming her friends because thinking is evil and she refuses on principle. Instead, she just says science is also evil:

She wants to study my response. I barely breathe. I used to think that cruelty required malice, but that is not true. Jeanine has no reason to act out of malice. But she is cruel because she doesn’t care what she does, as long as it fascinates her. I may as well be a puzzle or a broken machine she wants to fix. She will break open my skull just to see the inner workings of my brain; I will die here, and that will be the merciful thing.

This being totally different, of course, to injecting kids with terror simulations just to see who’s best at it. That’d great.

Tris then informs us that she totally knew this was what would happen because she’s too fucking stupid to realize that’s a bad thing.

I notice as I walk that Peter’s arm, the one I shot, is no longer in a sling. “Did they fix up your bullet wound?”
“Yeah,” he says.

You may recall Tris was fixing her own arm using Erudite’s existing magic salve, so this doesn’t even tell us if Erudite currently has a better version or what. They’ve invented magic healing everyone has access to. This guy in their compound partook of magic healing. Plus stomping on Eric’s injured foot worked about as well as him yanking Tris’ injured arm, so if they do have better healing it’s only slightly better. So what the hell is the point of this exchange?

Tris is escorted to a machine.

I recognize it from my Faction History textbook, the unit on Erudite and medicine. An MRI machine.

I’m starting to think Faction History is actually the only class they have.

Something sparks inside me. It’s been so long since I felt it that I barely recognize it at first. Curiosity.

Here we see the author finally, finally realize that having a character pathologically uninterested in everything around her is not the best writing choice, so it’s time to change it with no explanation. But whatever, I’ll take anything over Tris the pathologically uninterested.

Anyway, Tris decides to bargain by not lying down immediately. Jeanine says she’ll do it one way or the other, but Tris says she’s turned her brain on today and remembers that brain scans are hard and wiggling around enough to fuck them up is easy. Therefore she’ll………promise to hold perfectly still if she gets to see it.

Because it’s not like helping Erudite get what they want is going to get everyone else killed or anything. It’s not like there’s any good reason to want to delay things.

I think the reason all of this is so sudden and stupid is because the author is bored of Dauntless antics and wants to do a segment that’s all about the Erudite learning about divergence, so Tris has to walk over there, then happily aid them, then want them to explain all the details to her.

You know, one of the things I talk about all the time in fanfic is that it’s generally not that something is unworkable, it’s that the author didn’t put effort into making it work.

Here’s how it goes: Tris is captured by the Erudite. Maybe back when they were eavesdropping on the Candor/Erudite meeting and they try to pin down Jeanine, and it turns out the Erudite were expecting this (come on, “Dauntless will sneak out and attack the group they hate” is pretty obvious) and capture her. Maybe she goes because they have a gun trained on Tobias, even. Tris initially refuses to help and, after ruining yet another MRI scan with her squirming, they say if she doesn’t cooperate they’ll just try raiding Candor again to get a new divergent, and as they intended to then, kill all the others. There’s no need to bargain to get the information, they’re Erudite, they already have about the best excuse for villain monologuing you’re going to be able to get so they just tell her what they’re finding. Maybe mock her for picking Dauntless over Erudite and say that proves she can’t possibly have really been Erudite-level, and then Tris could realize over time that she needs to use all her talents including intelligence to learn more than they realize.

It’d be so much better than this fucking shit:

“I want to see the scans. You’re going to kill me anyway, so does it really matter how much I know about my own brain before you do?”
“Why do you want to see them so badly?” she says.
“Surely you, of all people, understand. I have equal aptitude for Erudite as I do for Dauntless and Abnegation, after all.”
“All right. You can see them. Lie down.”

I mean, why the fuck is Jeanine even arguing when it doesn’t fucking matter who sees the scans? And even in the alternate universe where it possibly could matter, why not just agree to it and then not do it, since if she gave a fuck about lying she’d be in Candor instead?

Afterwards Peter says he’s impressed how she always gets what she wants. It’s because she always wants stupid shit that is stupid. Tris claims that she obviously didn’t want to be here and about to be killed, and he says obviously she did because she came here to be killed. It’s not worth Peter’s continued survival, but it is nice to have someone pointing out the obvious.

Incidentally, Tris can’t even make sense of the scans at all but Erudite is happy to lecture, proving that the entire debate about getting to see them is even stupider than it seemed. I mean, the author could’ve at least avoided this individual plot hole by having Tris demand to be told what they were learning rather than just asking to see the scans. It doesn’t change her previous argument in the least.

Point is, her prefrontal cortex (It’s responsible for organizing your thoughts and actions to attain your goals.) is huge and the orbitofrontal cortex is tiny ( the reward center of the brain. Those who exhibit reward-seeking behavior have a large orbitofrontal cortex)

So Tris is in fact the most selfless person to ever exist, and also all her reward-seeking behavior prior to this was actually not.

And what happens if they suppress the activity in my prefrontal cortex— if they damage my ability to make decisions? What if this serum works, and I become a slave to the simulations like everyone else? What if I forget reality entirely?

Oh, but the part where by being there you’d making sure it does, in fact, work on everyone else including all the people currently immune is fine, because who cares about them. Yeah, we can really see how organized and focused you are on goals and not reward-seeking at all.

I did not know that my entire personality, my entire being, could be discarded as the byproduct of my anatomy. What if I really am just someone with a large prefrontal cortex … and nothing more?


Fuck, Tris, if you’d at least babbled about souls before this I would understand it could be a bit of a shock but you didn’t even do that.

On her way out, she meets Tobias.

“You die, I die too.” Tobias looks over his shoulder at me. “I asked you not to do this. You made your decision. These are the repercussions.”

And now you’re a terrible person too, Tobias. Twice over, in fact, since you’re both doing this to make sure your girlfriend dies extra miserable and fucking over everyone else you know by helping.

Peter asks if she thinks Tobias meant to rescue her.

“I don’t think so,” I say. If Tobias intended to rescue me, he would have thought it through; he would have brought others. He would not have burst into Erudite headquarters alone.

Or “If Tobias meant to rescue me, he wouldn’t have gone about it in the same fucking idiot way I did.”

Peter is just confused because surely Tobias gets all the bitches and doesn’t need to die over one of them. I mean, obviously if Tris dying meant no more sex forever it’d be understandable, but there’s other vaginas out there for him!

Sadly, this does not shock Tris out of crying, despite it flabbergausting me enough I forgot to hate the book for a minute there. Seriously, it’s some pretty quality what the fuck from him. If he hadn’t insisted on popping into the story a million times before, I would now approve of his current existence.

Now, remember when Tris explained that she realized asking questions just pointed out your weaknesses? She’s forgotten already and pleads with Peter to find out what’ll happen to Tobias. Peter reminds her that fuck no.

I READ SOMEWHERE, once, that crying defies scientific explanation.

Tears are only meant to lubricate the eyes. There is no real reason for tear glands to overproduce tears at the behest of emotion.

Because science has no idea what these emotions are. How do they work. What is smile?

I think we cry to release the animal parts of us without losing our humanity.

A complete list of animals that cry tears:
1) Humans
2) Maybe elephants.

Left, right, right. Left, right, left. Right, right. Our turns, in order, from
our point of origin—my cell—to our destination.


Okay, Tris. I guess the tear thing is understandable. You are only a baby sciencer, and babies make horrible stupid mistakes all the time. What’s important is that you’re trying and you’ll soon move past those horrible stupid mistakes to say stuff that isn’t “science can’t explain emotion!” And it’ll be a wonderful day.

Tris meets Jeanine and demands to know about Tobias, and Jeanine says she’s out of bargaining chips.

I want to scream at her that of course, of course I would rather know about Tobias than about my Divergence, but I don’t. I can’t make hasty decisions. She will do what she intends to do to Tobias whether I know about it or not. It is more important that I fully understand what is happening to me.

Tris is learning so fast! Maybe by tomorrow she’ll realize she could just say she’ll be annoying until they tell her about both Tobias and divergence.

She does take advantage of her newly activated brain to realize it’s weird Jeanine is taking so much time out from her faction duties and the whole war that’s on.

“What are you doing here, running tests on a sixteen-year-old girl?”
“You choose different ways of referring to yourself depending on what is convenient,” she says, leaning back in her chair. “Sometimes you insist that you are not a little girl, and sometimes you insist that you are. What I am curious to know is: How do you really view yourself? As one or the other? As both? As neither?”

Of course, the rest of it remains shit. “Sixteen year old girl” and “little girl” aren’t synonyms in our time and they have even less reason to be so in a world where sixteen year olds are full adults and eighteen year olds can be faction leaders. What the hell is with this book? Did someone refer to the author as a little girl at some point after writing Divergent and she just snapped, which is understandable, and then no editor noticed it was insane and took it back out, which is less so?

I make my voice flat and factual, like hers. “I see no reason to provide that information.”
I hear a faint snort. Peter is covering his mouth. Jeanine glares at him, and his laughter effortlessly transforms into a coughing fit.
“Mockery is childish, Beatrice,” she says. “It does not become you.”
“Mockery is childish, Beatrice,” I repeat in my best imitation of her voice. “It does not become you.”

It isn’t supported by basically anything else, but it is funny and it’s nice to have Tris doing something other than making their job easier. Jeanine decides fuck it, just inject her with the new serum and let’s move on.

Suddenly she’s hanging out with her mom, who says there’s so much to do so they have to go to Erudite for them to help. Tris spends the time being uncomfortable and feeling like there’s something sad about her parents. Tris asks why the Erudite will help, and her mom something perfectly reasonable:

“I worry that all your father’s blustering about Erudite has been to your detriment,” she says gently. “They’ve made mistakes, of course, but they, like everyone else, are a blend of good and bad, not one or the other. What would we do without our doctors, our scientists, our teachers?”

The book claims she’s only tipped off by her mom emphasizing that Tris should remember what she says which reminds Tris her mom is gone, but I’m pretty sure she was mostly tipped off by the part where someone said Erudite don’t eat puppies.

“You’ll have to do better than that,” I say to Jeanine.
She says, “That was only the beginning.”

And yet, it pretty much gave them all they needed. The simulation should work if they just have her rescued from her cell, removing any chance she has of remembering the discontinuity. They don’t need her to be on the side of Erudite because last book Jeanine figured out how to invert information so that people switched allegiances and attacked friend as foe.

All further tests do is teach her she should constantly test her environment by seeing if she has telekinesis. By the way, Tris, you’re smart now so you have no excuse for not realizing that and I expect you to try to blow up the camera when you return to the cell, both to be safe now and to get in the habit for later.


  1. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
    The brain scan scene with Jeanine could have been incredibly creepy if things had gone down as you outlined, so Tris was trying to learn things in order to escape, then she found herself bonding with Jeanine as they went to town on intellectual curiosity.

    Also, it’d make sense and be far more interesting if Tris’ grieving had not meant numbing her curiosity but had led to her becoming randomly obsessive about some area(s) of knowledge. Caleb’s reading the water treatment manual to numb himself is the kind of Erudite behavior I recognize.

    1. Farla says:
      What if she’d done this from the start of the book? She was blindsided by Erudite when the whole faction thing is supposed to mean people are lockstep, and supposedly she could be just as Erudite, so this book she obsesses over thinking like Erudites.

      And that could be used to explain her disconnect from Dauntless, and even her suicide attempt here – she could go into it thinking by doing this she’ll finally be able to grasp Erudite thought and understand them.

      1. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
        Tris fumbling her way to trying to use her Erudite leaning would be a huge improvement as narrative, since she’d have to tell us more about the world as she figured it out, and she’d get to be wrong about things without having to abandon common sense.
  2. actonthat says:
    I wrote a super long comment about how little sense this book makes and Disqus ate it and now I’m sad.
    1. Farla says:
      The malevolence of the book grows!

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