The Mind-Control Villains Finally Use Mind Control: Insurgent Chapters 26 and 27

Guess what, guys? Something actually interesting happens in this chapter! 2015 is crazy.

Chapter 26

Tris is woken up in the middle of the night by Christina, which Tris reminds us is never a good sign.

The last time Christina pulled me out of bed, it was to see Al’s body lifted out of the chasm. […] She jabs the DOOR CLOSE button, and then the button for the top floor.
“Simulation,” she says. “There’s a simulation. It’s not everyone, it’s just… just a few.”
“One of them said something about the Divergent,” she says.

“Something about the Divergent” also doubles as a pretty good summary of this entire series, because I still have no idea what’s actually so special about the Divergent.

They get to the room and they see three people – Marlene (one of Tris’s Dauntless-born friends she met through Uriah), Hector (the younger brother of Lynn, Uriah’s other Dauntless-born friend), and an 8-year-old girl Tris doesn’t recognize (not to be confused with the other characters we don’t recognize) – under Erudite mind-control on the ledge of the rooftop. Astute readers will note that this is actually pretty goddamned terrifying.

“I have a message for the Divergent.” [Marlene says.] “This is not a negotiation. It is a warning. […] Every two days until one of you delivers yourself to Erudite headquarters, this will happen again.”

parks and rec oh fuck

Of course, it wouldn’t be Divergent if even an interesting premise is slowed to a halt with Tris thinking all over it, so she takes us very slowly – but very incompletely – through her thought process of who to save.

I look from Marlene to Hector. Hector, who was so afraid of what I am because his mother told him to be. Lynn is probably still at Shauna’s bedside, hoping Shauna can move her legs when she wakes up again. Lynn can’t lose Hector. […]
Marlene steps back, and I throw myself forward, but not at her. Not at Marlene, who once let Uriah shoot a muffin of her head on a dare. Who gathered a sack of clothing for me to wear. Who always, always greeted me with a smile. No, not at Marlene.
As Marlene and the other Dauntless girl step off the edge of the roof, I dive at Hector.

Man, this is obviously supposed to be dramatic. Let’s very slowly explain it, but not the half that explains what actually happens. We have to have a dramatic twist everybody who didn’t read the paragraph or two before it would never see coming. For added dramatic tension, let’s be sure to include paragraphs reminding the reader who any of these people are and why it would be sad if they died, because it’s not like the reader’s going to remember any of these characters who are emotionally about to die.

Somebody thought that, wrote a book about it, and then somebody else decided to spend millions of dollars making a movie of it.

"Defy reality" is a pretty hollow statement when it can't figure out how to make reality make sense in the first place.
Defy reality! Nothing means anything!

Tris saves Hector and Christina saves the nameless girl, leaving Marlene forced to fall to her death against her conscious will. Obviously this scene wouldn’t have worked if Tris didn’t spend a bunch of pages explaining why it’s sad.

Chapter 27

During the aftermath the next morning, they figure out that Erudite was able to execute their mind-control attack because they missed covering up some of the security cameras. You know, the ones that would have let the Erudite know that someone was there, so they shot them all with paintballs. Amazingly, that cunning plan was foiled some other way.

Also in the aftermath of having witnessed her first simulation, Christina has a revelation about Will’s death.

“You were right. They couldn’t hear you, couldn’t see you. Just like Will… […] I believe you now, and… I’m going to try to forgive you.”

I have something in common with Tris for the first time: neither of us give a fuck.

What did she think, before now? That I wanted to shoot Will, one of my best friends? She should have trusted me from the beginning […]
“How fortunate for me that you finally got proof that I’m not a cold-blooded murderer.”

key and peele z snap

Tris tells Christina that she better hurry up on forgiving her, “because there isn’t much time-” and then breaks into tears, where they finally embrace and make up. Later that day, Lynn expresses sadness that Tris couldn’t save Marlene, but thanks her for saving her brother.

Tris comments on how quiet the other Dauntless are around her, because “as one of the Divergent, I have the power to let Jeanine kill one of them”. Maybe it would be better to phrase this as “I have the power to stop Jeanine from killing one of them”, since her agency is in the potential to make the villain stop doing villainy rather than giving her permission to do so. But, hey, I’m not a professional writer words person.

Tris chats with the other Divergent. Uriah is annoyed that Shauna (Lynn and Hector’s other sister) is avoiding the Divergent because “she doesn’t want to catch it”, because Lynn, Hector, and Shauna’s mother is Divergent-racist. So we now have to also remember that minor character and the one trait that defines them before they likely get killed off in a few more appearances.

Speaking of characters defined by a small number of traits, Four shows up. His relationship with Tris continues to be somehow be both boring and rude.

“Aren’t you going to ask me if I’m all right?” I say.
“No, I’m pretty sure you’re not all right.”

And tries pretty miserably to be dramatic.

I don’t stare back – I refuse to stare back.
I stare back.

wasn't expecting this doctor who

To its credit, this whole mind control suicide terror threat is hands down the best and most terrifying thing that’s happened in the Divergent series so far. The book even has one of its rare moments where it shows how scared its characters are instead of having Tris simply explain it.

Uriah scowls. “I think we should attack back.”
“Yeah,” I say hollowly,” Let’s provoke the woman who can force half of this compound to kill themselves. That sounds like a great idea.”

Okay, that’s still mostly just Tris simply explaining it, but the difference is that this is in dialogue with the others, rather than breaking it all down to the reader. Because this is a good point. This does sound like a hopeless situation. And I care about it because for once the book is allowing me to think about it.

Tobias gets the Divergent to agree to not do anything about it yet. Tris goes to Tobias’s apartment later and have a very Tris-Tobias conversation, which has depressingly come to mean 1) they fight, and 2) Tobias mansplains what’s best.

“Don’t be an idiot,” he says.
“An idiot?”
“You were lying. You said you wouldn’t go to Erudite, and you were lying, and going to Erudite would make you an idiot. So don’t.”

Rather than summarize the rest of their fight, I’m going to summarize every conversation these two had ever had in this book and will probably continue to have!

TRIS: I have an opinion that is different from yours!
FOUR: I am right because I am a man!
TRIS: Maybe it’s more complicated than that?
FOUR: No, it’s not! I’m a man!
(Pause)
FOUR: I love you.
(Optional: They make out)

Hahaha sigh… yeah, it’d be great if I could just say that was my summary of the rest of the book. That’d save me so much time.

Tris promises not to turn herself in to the Erudite for mysterious experiment-related purposes, but it’s a lie. We know this because it’s literally the only part of this book’s plot that was interesting enough to make it into the trailer for the movie.

Also because Tris tells us.

Question of the day: Did you get any books for the holidays? Did you give any books? Are they better than the books we’re reading for the blog?

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8 comments

  1. future venusian Reply

    Tris is such a crappy narrator. On the other hand, I’m learning a lot about how not to write a book.

    I didn’t give any books, but I did get a Barnes and Noble gift card that I’ve already spent. I got The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, A Turn of Light by Julie E. Czerneda, and a book on the U.S. Civil War. I’ve only read the first one so far, and it’s better than every book on this blog by a factor of like three million. If you haven’t read it and you like fantasy/sci fi, I definitely recommend it.

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  2. Dana Reply

    I didn’t receive any books, but I got a bunch of Barnes and Noble gift cards. I bought Atonement already, haven’t started it, and I still have enough gift card money to buy three other ones. Which books, I’m not sure. I always put a lot of thought in the book-buying process.

    So if y’all got any recommendations, I’m all ears.

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    • matthewjulius Reply

      The book my friends could attest that I’ve been raving about recently is Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist. I even bought my younger sister a copy for Christmas, because I’m that older brother.

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  3. Bellomy Reply

    I got Horowitz’s book “Moriarty”. Very good book that would be a great book with one or two small changes to the ending, which is admittedly mind-blowing. At the same time, you do feel a bit cheated.

    I really don’t want to give anything else away because it was a total shocker. It completely changes the way the rest of the book is interpreted. I think I’d have loved it if only Horowitz had done a couple of things differently. The reveal itself is fine. Great, even. But I don’t think Horowtiz handled it in the best possible way.

    The other book I got was “Caves of Steel” by Isaac Asimov. I’m a huge fan of his robot stories.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend “Awake in the Night Land” by John C. Wright, which is set in the universe of an obscure 20th century novel called “The Night Land, famous for having an amazingly imaginative world and horrible, horrible prose. Wright’s stories read as if they’re how Hodgson wished he could write. “Awake in the Night”, the first novelette in the book, (which can be found free on Amazon), is one of the single best things I have read in my entire life.

    And finally, to anybody interested in reading about a fusion of science fiction and philosophy I recommend Jason Rennie’s Sci Phi Journal, specifically issue 3 where (ahem) my short story, “A Quadrillion Occupied Planets”, is published under the pen name Marc Anthony. Issue number 4 will contain my novelette “Take Up Your Cross” – these are be my first two professional sales. Check the Journal out on Amazon!

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  4. gasolinespider Reply

    Two years late, but I used the gift cards I’ve collected over the years to buy both the complete Bone Anthology and the Art of Book for Pan’s Labyrinth.

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