In this addictive sequel to the acclaimed Divergent (2011), a bleak post-apocalyptic Chicago ruled by "factions" exemplifying different personality traits collapses into all-out civil war.
With both the Dauntless and Abnegation factions shattered by the Erudite attack, Tris and her companions seek refuge with Amity and Candor, and even among the factionless. But the Erudite search for "Divergents" continues relentlessly. They have a secret to protect—one they fear could prove more catastrophic than open warfare; one they will slaughter to keep hidden... Rather than ease readers back into this convoluted narrative, the book plunges the characters into immediate danger without clues to their current relationships, let alone their elaborate back stories. The focus is firmly on the narrator Tris, who, devastated by guilt and grief, reveals new depth and vitality. While taking actions less Dauntless than recklessly suicidal, she retains her convenient knack for overhearing crucial conversations and infallibly sizing up others. Her romance with Tobias is achingly tender and passionate, and her friends and enemies alike display a realistic spectrum of mixed motivations and conflicted choices. The unrelenting suspense piles pursuit upon betrayal upon torture upon pitched battles; the violence is graphic, grisly and shockingly indiscriminate. The climactic reveal, hinting at the secret origins of their society, is neither surprising nor particularly plausible, but the frenzied response makes for another spectacular cliffhanger.
Anyone who read the first book was dying for this one months ago; they'll hardly be able to wait for the concluding volume. (Science fiction. 14 & up)