Tris Isn't Dead Yet: Insurgent Chapter 36

So you guys heard about the all-female Ghostbusters reboot? I’m like one of four people in the world who doesn’t like Ghostbusters, so that was pretty much the only thing that could have piqued my interest.

I look forward to reading zero comments about Divergent and a thousand comments about how I don’t like Ghostbusters.

Insurgent Chapter 36

But I’m still breathing.

Oh phew! Tris didn’t just die partway into the book! That would be weird!

Peter pushes my eyelids over my eyes. Does he know I’m not dead? Does Jeanine? Can she see me breathing?
“Take the body to the lab,” Jeanine says. “The autopsy is scheduled for this afternoon.”

So that would be a “no”, then.

Peter takes the still unconscious Tris to an unknown room, conveniently talking out loud to himself just in case we’re not sure he’s switched sides in his enemy’s HQ.

“For someone so small, you’re heavy, Stiff,” he mutters.
He knows I’m awake. He knows.

Suddenly, Tris overhears Four. Peter gives Four his gun because he’s a better shot, while he carries Tris in their run to safety.

downton abbey dull moment

Ok, so, let’s think about this for a second. This isn’t really a huge surprise, since Peter’s main role in the narrative thus far has been “just be there”, and while it’s possible that a book can make the mistake of introducing a constantly recurring character who literally does nothing, that’s more so the befuddling exception than the rule. I don’t think anyone’s particularly surprised that Peter turned out to be Tris and Four’s means of escape. So we’re going to skip ahead to covering his surprising motivations for helping them!

The surprise is that it doesn’t make much rational sense, which by Divergent-standards is like saying that the ocean is surprisingly splashy.

[H]e opens his mouth, hesitates, and finally says, “I can’t be in anyone’s debt. Okay? The idea that I owed you something made me sick. […] Indebted to a Stiff? It’s ridiculous.” […]
“You’re insane,” says Tobias. “That’s not the way the world works . . . with everyone keeping score.”
“It’s not?” Peter raises his eyebrows. “I don’t know what world you live in, but in mine, people only do things for you for one of two reasons. The first is if they want something in return. And the second is if they feel like they owe you something.”
“Those aren’t the only reasons people do things for you,” I say.

Yeah, Tris! You tell this fool that-

“Sometimes they do them because they love you.”

Okay, maybe not you, Tris.

Honestly, though, I don’t even hate it. We’ve been so starved for anything interesting to happen in this story that I guess this is the bar now. It could be worse. Sure, the bar is so low that whatever the hell we just read actually qualifies as a morally grey, complicated character, but at least we’re spending some time with the only character who hates being in this book as much as I hate reading it.

[He] touches his lips to mine. I curl my fingers into his shirt.
“Unless you want me to throw up all over you guys, you might want to save it for later.”

Which is a good segue back into how boring these people are. First, we have Tris, telling the reader how to react to every single event that happens in a story about the evils of mass-conformity.

I was almost dead, but instead I am alive. Because of Peter.
Of all people.

Clue-Ill-tell-you-how-it-happened

And second, we have Four, who – if there’s anything nice to say about this book – at least tends to sound as annoying and stupid as a believable teenager.

“Got that gun?” Peter says to Tobias.
“No,” says Tobias, “I figured I would shoot the bullets out of my nostrils, so I left it upstairs.”

Apparently today's criticism of a young adult dystopian novel can be written largely with Downton Abbey quotes, so there's that.
Apparently today’s criticism of a young adult dystopian novel can be written largely with Downton Abbey quotes, so there’s that.

Although for something genuinely nice to say, the book does have its moments where it subtly details Tris’s PTSD without falling into its usual tendency to be incredibly on the nose.

His face blank, he puts one arm around the corner, steadying it with the building wall, and fires twice. I shove my fingers in my ears and try not to pay attention to the gunshots and what they make me remember.

Not to say that it doesn’t get incredibly on-the-nose a few paragraphs later.

“Take the least logical route!” shouts Tobias.
“What?” Peter says.
“The least logical route,” Tobias says. “So they won’t find us!”

Like the bulk of Insurgent, Tris, Tobias, and Peter escape without anything to get particularly tense about. Unless you count continuity errors.

I look over my shoulder to see what Tobias shot at, and see two men on the ground behind Erudite headquarters. One isn’t moving, and the other is clutching his arm and running toward the door. They will send others after us.

Wait, isn’t this exactly how Tris figured out that she was in a simulation like three chapters ago? Because simulation-Tobias shot two people but didn’t hit one of them fatally, and Tris knew that IRL Tobias was too awesome to miss like that? Isn’t this exactly like that?

Tobias fires twice in a matter of seconds, both hits, one in the head and one in the chest. The woman, who was hit in the chest, slumps against the wall but doesn’t die. […]
I know that if he can throw a knife so that it hits just the tip of my ear, he can fire accurately at the Dauntless soldiers who ambush us. […]
“We can’t get out of here,” I say. “Because this is a simulation.”

How is this different?

doctor who well

They hide in a building and eventually get back to the Abnegation sector, because they’ve been literally everywhere else in post-apocalypse Chicago in this novel, so we can confirm there’s no plot to be had elsewhere. They get back and greet Christina and Uriah, whom I guess are the only other supporting characters left with nothing in particular to do. They then meet up with Tobias’s mom, Evelyn, and Tris acts inconsistently with her character.

She says something to him. He smiles at her when he pulls away. Mother and son, reconciled. I am not sure it’s wise.

Tris also notices that Marcus is still missing, because I guess it’s not an inopportune moment enough yet.

They go to Tobia’s childhood home, and Tris admires the strength it must take to return to a place where he suffered so much abuse. She also becomes overwhelmed with – to be succinct – all the shit.

“My family is all dead, or traitors; how can I…”
I am not making any sense.[…]
“I’ll be your family now,” he says.
“I love you,” I say.
I said that once, before I went to Erudite headquarters, but he was asleep then.

Awwww. I can’t wait to see how Tobias ruins this tender moment.

He frowns at me. “Say it again.”

That’s our Tobias! Even when Tris is saying that she loves him, she’s wrong until he tells her what to do.

Question of the day: So what do you think about this whole Peter plot twist? Not so much whether it was surprising (heh), but about the whole, say, shift from chaotic evil to lawful neutral? Yeah, we’re breaking out our motherfucking character alignments this week. Feel free to tell me I’m doing it wrong.

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0 comments

  1. Bellomy Reply

    I think I like it, actually. Though his motivations are bland enough to make me roll my eyes, and probably lose any sort of impression the twist made.

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  2. Bellomy Reply

    BTW, forget not triple-checking. Jeanine literally does NOTHING to confirm Tris’s death. And the serum isn’t even that GOOD. Tris isn’t even knocked out by it.

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    • matthewjulius Reply

      Aw shit, ok, I messed up. I left out a part where Peter explains that he switched the death serum with a muscle tranquilizer. That’s my fault. The book did not mess that part up!

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      • Bellomy Reply

        No, I get that. I’m just saying, look at examples of other “fake death” serums in literature. They’ll reduce vitals to minimum function. “Romeo and Juliet” is the prime example here.

        And Peter uses a fucking muscle relaxant, and this is enough to fool Jeanine.

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          • matthewjulius Reply

            Aw geez aw geez
            He also hooked up a dud heart monitor or something.
            Okay everyone assume Peter competently faked everything somewhat beyond what we’d have presumed his ability was because that happened because plot.

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            • 22aer22 Reply

              I thought it was that it relaxed her heart soooo much that it seemed like she wasn’t breathing anymore. I have no idea, the science in this series is beyond my comprehension. Because it’s terrible.

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          • 22aer22 Reply

            Peter is just some random teenager from Erudite who switched to Dauntless and then went back to help Erudite. That doesn’t exactly set him apart from the others in any distinctive way, so why is he helping out so much?

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  3. Dejah Reply

    Good point in that the reason she knew it was a simulation the first time was that Four didn’t accurately hit his targets. Actually, it changes the perspective for me. During the real escape the same thing happened but Tris is not alarmed by it. Maybe Jeanine got it right this time and for the rest of book two and all of book three it’s all Tris under the divergent proof mind control and we don’t see it but we know that the Erudite won.

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    • Dejah Reply

      Now granted, I know that isn’t the case since I read the entire series. But I personally think it makes things interesting or at least that reading the books wasn’t a total waste of my time anymore. Book three is duel perspective. I think I can ignore the insane plot stupidity if I think it was all the Erudite suceeding and all we know is what they make Tris think. Heck, the duel perspective could be explained as another “experiment” of Jeanine’s: the removal of one personality and insertion of another.

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