Insurgent Ch40-41

Last time, stuff kept happening that didn’t make sense, but in a more unfocused way than usual.

Today, there’s apparently just over a dozen Erudite defectors total.

Cara’s big objection to their plan is the idea of copying it onto a disk.

I suggest you make use of the data network.”
“The … what?”
She glances at the other Erudite. One of the others—a brown-skinned young man in glasses—says, “Go on. Tell them. There’s no reason to keep secrets anymore.”

Because apparently Candor had no interest in making them talk. I mean, people coming in from your enemies saying they’re totally horrified by that thing their whole faction meticulously planned but they failed to warn anyone about, they’re trustworthy, while Tris and Tobias, whose on camera behavior was confusing enough they didn’t even a single complete theory for what was going on even with the idea that the simulation ending early was totally unrelated to them turning the simulation off right then, were obviously the enemy.

Care gives us the shocking revelation that Erudite can access the other faction’s databases. Christina is duly shocked:

“What?” says Christina. “You mean you can just take a stroll through every faction’s data whenever you want?”

“…oh right that was so obvious it was the basis of our not returning to HQ initially and why when we finally did so we tried to blind all the cameras.”

Cue one of the other Erudite taking issue with the fact You can’t ‘take a stroll’ through data,” … “That’s illogical.” and when Christina’s all wtf metaphor then trying to figure out if it’s a metaphor or figure of speech or both, because everyone knows English degrees are the polar opposite of science knowledge. Indeed, they are the only known weaknesses of engineering majors, who are immune to both crosses and garlic.

Cara’s all whatevs we’ve monsters point is you can send data out. So obviously Tris will do that and this is meaningfully different than just saying these people have an existing communication network given their computers themselves are all connected. Also, some Erudite will come to guide her because she doesn’t know the way.

“We risked our lives by defecting from our faction,” says Cara, “and we will risk them again to save our faction from itself.”

It’s weird that Cara does not point out the more specific fact that she betrayed her faction midway through an assault to run to the people with every reason to shoot her on sight with a warning. But anyway, here’s our dramatic non-Dauntless can be brave too because I guess that was an issue that the author thought we need constant updates on despite the first book resolving it.

Plus, gadgets, which are prototypes. Since it makes no sense to only take prototypes and not just grab a few handfuls of their tested equipment on the way out, I again return to my theory that everything Erudite makes is stuck at prototype because the Abnegation always refuse to allow production.

“Scrutiny’s not really our thing,” says Christina.
“Then how do you make things better?” the little girl asks.
“We don’t, really,” Christina says, sighing. “They kind of just keep getting worse.”
The little girl nods. “Entropy.”
“What?”
“Entropy,” she chirps. “It’s the theory that all matter in the universe is gradually moving toward the same temperature. Also known as ‘heat death.’”
“Elia,” Cara says, “that is a gross oversimplification.”

It’s actually flat out wrong and more relevantly, that’s a non sequitor for getting worse. I’m not sure if the author doesn’t know how to write dialogue here and so thought sticking any definition of entropy here was fine, or if the author isn’t even clear why people talk about things getting worse = entropy but knows they do and wiki’d that it has to do with heat.

For future reference, Elia, entropy in relation to “things keep getting worse” means things move toward disorder, and the act of ordering things therefore takes more energy than disordering, and to keep things ordered requires continual effort. If you wish to be particularly fatalistic, you could even define it as the fact that the creation of order inevitably creates a greater quantity of disorder in the process – but as the Earth isn’t a closed system, that’s irrelevant when discussing localized events.

Elia takes the criticism as a sign to stick out her tongue and Tris explains to us that wow, it’s like Erudite kids are regular kids, except that this seems one of the rare points they wouldn’t be regular kids (being told they’re saying something wrong) rather than a rare point they’d be just the same.

Anyway, speaking of entropy, one of their gadgets will explode glass with sonic power. They’ve also invented half a taser – you have to jab the person directly with it.

I made it so that the Amity would have a way of defending themselves without shooting anyone.”

“As Erudite, I’m well versed in factional beliefs enough to know Amity prefer torture guns that leave no marks over actual guns that do.”

Tris, because stunguns are fun and harmless and it’s so great how our police all have them, is amazed by how sweet and kind the Erudite are here, and they explain slowly that technology is supposed to make life better and Tris is all technology…make better? MY WORLD HAS TURNED UPSIDEDOWN. She goes on to explain that also, these people seem like people and not demon lizards or whatever. Well, I’m glad you worked this out after you developed this belief at some unknown point after being completely fucking able to handle Erudites being people last book and just having (semi)legitimate grievences about the stuff they were saying in the papers. You’ve returned to baseline! Such character development. Much good writing.

My father taught me to see Erudite a particular way. He never taught me that they made no judgments about what people believed, but designed things for them within the confines of those beliefs.

Your father probably didn’t think you were this stupid. They can judge the fuck out of Amity all day long and still realize they need to invent a different weapon if they want Amity armed. Hell, the invention of a technically no marks gun strongly suggests there was judgement involved.

The attack will begin in the afternoon, before it is too dark to see the blue armbands that mark some of the Dauntless as traitors.

This doesn’t make much sense – they’re planning to rush into Erudite days in advance of the Dauntless/Factionless pack. If there are non-blue Dauntless hanging around Erudite, they’re probably double agents and just as killable.

They decide to head off finally, and Johanna is there with vehicles and the Amity and Abnegation who’ve decided to go.

In the back of the truck she was just sitting on is a stack of crates marked APPLES and FLOUR and CORN.

The author’s only understanding of farms is that it’s where those things come from.

I feel calm until we reach the fence. I expect to encounter the same guards who tried to stop us on the way in, but the gate is abandoned, left open. A tremor starts in my chest and spreads to my hands. In the midst of meeting new people and making plans, I forgot that my plan is to walk straight into a battle that could claim my life.

And we return to our mid-paragraph universe shifts. We appear to have jumped from something horrible blindsiding their whole society, such that the fence is not only left but left open, to Tris being concerned about the upcoming fight when she reenters the city itself. An attempt to reconcile the two follows with Tris wondering if the fight began already, but that’s no reason to open the fence.

They discuss the possibility that Jeanine might have advance warning. It’s as if the constant refrain of “let’s do this a week from now” is stupid and happened only because the author likes announcing planned attacks.

Tris asks if any of the Erudite knew a Caleb.

“Yes, there was a Caleb in my initiate class. Brilliant, but he was … what’s the colloquial term for it? A suck-up.”

So this is not going toward the idea of Tris finding out her brother seemed otherwise sane and reasonable and she should question why he was willing to betray his family and birth-faction at large. The most the guy will say is that Jeanine is an evil siren who lures in the nonsuspicious with her persuasive song, so maybe Caleb’s just totally deluded rather than evil himself.

They see no one heading in, which is business as usual given they’re a tiny population in a giant city. Then gunshot sounds. They aim toward it.

Fernando hops out of the truck bed and offers me his arm.
“Come on, Insurgent,” he says with a wink.
“What?” I say. I take his arm and slide down the side of the truck.
He opens the bag he was sitting with. It is full of blue clothes. He sorts through them, tossing garments to Christina and me. I get a bright blue T-shirt and a pair of blue jeans.
“Insurgent,” he says. “Noun. A person who acts in opposition to the established authority, who is not necessarily regarded as a belligerent.”

I’m not saying it’s impossible to title drop, I’m just saying it’s pretty close to impossible to title drop self-evident titles.

I look at Fernando. The last time I broke into a faction’s headquarters, I did it with a gun in my hand, and I left bodies behind me.

I really wish the book could decide if Tris is anti-killing or just gun phobic. Tris’ previous stabbity suggested she was still in favor of killing guys who needed killing, and also it’s just dull for her to whine about how she’s evil for being violent.

“I like it,” I say. “Insurgent. It’s perfect.”

This I don’t think can ever be done well.

“Did she just call you ‘Stiff’?” Fernando says.
“Yeah,” I say. “I transferred into Dauntless from Abnegation.”
“Huh.” He frowns. “That’s quite a shift. That kind of leap in personality between generations is almost genetically impossible these days.”

What.

It’s been three generations. The idea of personality traits being fixed within three generations is idiotic even before the fact that’s it’s been three not particularly stable generations given even the second generation had people like Tris’ mom picking factions based on safety and not compatibility. And I really doubt the first generation was solely based on personality traits and nothing to do with existing relationships, plus the nurture of people who grew up pre-faction would be very different equation than that of those raised post-factionalizing, so the nature half of the equation wouldn’t necessarily match up in the new situation.

I’m not sure if we’ve found a piece of what story this used to be, or if it’s just a matter of being a terrible writer now, but this seems to be going off the fantasy trope of ancient castes that have been stable so it’s been burnt into their very race.

And you could have something like that. It’s like those birds that eat different pinecone seeds – there’s nine or so different ideal beaks for the various pinecone varieties. Crossbreeding produces in-between beaks that aren’t good at any of them. While these people don’t directly kill their in-betweens, even if they were properly feeding the factionless and not making them live next to open sewers, there’s still the fact they’re permanently removed from the faction gene pool.

Over epic fantasy type timeperiods, otherwise known as not three fucking generations, this could definitely brand set personalities into people. Stuff like Dauntless’ ten people only thing could even work like dog breeding, where the standard grows steadily more rigid and insane, and then one day you end up with a series of mad tests where they do stuff like demand you jump off a building without question or you’re out.

Even Tris, in fact, knows this doesn’t work, she just doesn’t understand how impossible it would be. She herself knows at least three people who picked factions for other reason than personality, and even if we remove Al for not successfully getting into Dauntless, the other two were exemplars.

I run a comb through my hair to smooth it down and then tuck it behind my ears.
“Here,” says Cara. She lifts a piece of hair from my face and pins it back with a silver hair clip, the way Erudite girls do.

Ah, it’s a fun return to last book’s insanity about everyone fighting over which hats were theirs. Only Erudites get hair clips! Abnegation probably get rubber bands, which are the worst, Amity ban them because dirty hippies, Dauntless gets scrunchies for the mandatory sporty ponytail, and Candor…headbands, maybe?

Tris is then offered the choice between the gun or the stunner.

“You know what Will would say?” says Christina.
“What?” I say, my voice breaking.
“He would tell you to get over it,” she says. “To stop being so irrational and take the stupid gun.”

Alright, that’s confirmation they don’t have PTSD. Even if you assume Christina herself might not know, the pile of Erudite would. (And just about also confirmation the author knows it’s PTSD and how that works, in that everything about this is an argument for Tris’ character development to progress to gun-holding again, and she just can’t. The author’s sins are numerous, but here she’s doing well.)

And she—who lost someone dear to her that day, just as I did—was able to forgive me, an act that must have been nearly impossible. It would have been impossible for me, if the situation were reversed. So why is it so difficult for me to forgive myself?

Uh, because you just said it’s impossible to forgive someone who killed your friend under the exact circumstances you killed your friend.

This isn’t hard, Tris.

So now she’s got the stunner instead. She should really stock up on throwing knives.

My heart beats so hard it marks each second for me, but the rest of me is numb. I can barely feel the ground. I have never been this afraid before, and considering all that I have seen in simulations, and all that I did during the attack simulation, that doesn’t make any sense.

It literally does not, because you just got injected with ultra fear serum. Your brain was on max fear already. You are never going to be able to say something is the scariest thing you’ve ever experienced. You still have many less cliche comparisons to pick from, like “I’m more afraid than I was seeing my faction taken over.” or such.

Tris then says that it does make sense because whatever the macguffin info is, it’s the most importantest.

Standing in four rows in front of us are a group of people, mostly dressed in black and white, spaced two feet apart, guns held up and ready.

Shockingly, it turns out Erudite totally did zombify people just because it’s a great idea and has no drawbacks whatsoever.

She looks at me, and I think I know her thoughts, because I have experienced them before. Where are my parents? I have to find them. But if her parents are like these Candor, simulation controlled and armed, there is nothing she can do for them.

Well, she could find them and try dragging them out of the line of fire.

Then Tris, who’s repeatedly told us she’s no longer suicidal… Guess. Guess what she does.

I step toward the Candor. Maybe they aren’t programmed to shoot. I stare into the glazed eyes of a woman in a white blouse and black slacks. She looks like she just came from work. I take another step.
Bang.

She literally walks right into a wall of armed people. She is alive now only because magic made the bullet not hit.

She isn’t holding anything ahead of her. She didn’t try throwing, like, a rock, to see if they reacted. Just hey, I’mma walk forward and maybe I don’t get shot!

“How about let’s not do that?” he says.

I mean, what’s the point of this even? It’s obvious they were going to shoot her, and she’s just lucky they aren’t chasing or sounding an alarm – that’s a lot easier than the zombified Dauntless, which is what she was familiar with. The story could’ve just had them see this and realize they’re going to get shot. All I can think is that maybe she’s wrong and she’s still suicidal, but what’s the point of that?

They decide to duck through buildings to get around this, because that’s the sort of plan smart people would never think to counter.

“This used to be a commercial building,” says Fernando, “but Erudite converted it into a school, for post-Choosing education. After the major renovations in Erudite headquarters about a decade ago—you know, when all the buildings across from Millennium were connected?— they stopped teaching there. Too old, hard to update.”

Huh.

Erudite post-choosing ed, or everybody? I assume Erudite only, as there’s no mention of education for anybody else, but we’ve seen so little of what post-initiation looks like that I can’t be sure.

Right outside the window, so close I could touch her if I stretched my hand through the window, is a Candor child, a girl, holding a gun that is as long as her forearm.

While I respect the evil of this, I must point out this is really not a smart decision and really, Erudite’s evil should not be of the stupid type.

5 Comments

  1. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
    The nonsense about genes is foreshadowing for the third book, though it won’t entirely make sense with what we get there (which will contradict what we know so far), and what we get there won’t make sense, either. The third book is a seven-layer bar of not-making-sense, except not delicious.
    1. Farla says:
      though it won’t entirely make sense with what we get there (which will contradict what we know so far), and what we get there won’t make sense

      So the same as this book.

  2. Maimh says:
    “That kind of leap in personality between generations is almost genetically impossible these days.”
    (One of these days I am going to be right)
    1. M says:
      I see the picure just fine in both posts, though.

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