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March 19, 2015

At the Insurgent Advance Screening: All You Need is Love for Dystopian YA

The other night a few of us from The Book Report Network were lucky enough to score some press passes to a prescreening of Insurgent, the second installment in the theatrical adaptation of Veronica Roth's Divergent series. We were most excited to see our beloved YA hot shot Shailene Woodley and muscular heartthrob Theo James steam up the screen...and maybe get some free popcorn, but who's keeping track? The movie was a quick-paced, action-packed, two-hour dystopian extravaganza, complete with an oppressive government, a slew of anger-fueled rebels and a perfectly-matched dynamic duo whose love conquers all...literally.
Our all-time favorite celebrities characters from the first movie returned for the second, including but not limited to: a weasely Ansel Elgort, a tyrannical Kate Winslet, a cruel (but still hunky) Jai Courtney and the ever-entertaining, fast-talking Miles Teller (who is now RIPPED for his next role --- ohhh, baby!). Aussie Naomi Watts joins the cast this time around as Four's overly cool, calm and collected biological mother, as well as Octavia Spencer as Johanna, the leader of the peace-loving Amity faction. Needless to say, the original cast plus the new additions brought out some of Hollywood's best.
At the end of the first movie, we knew that Tris had already started to side with her bad girl self, i.e. secretly gallivanting with Dauntless leader Four, stabbing Jeanine in the hand --- all the while hiding her true Divergent identity. In the second movie, Tris goes full-on rogue. She chops off all of her hair and becomes the ruthless fighter we always knew she was. The movie opens with Four, Tris and a few other Dauntless finding refuge in Amity on the outskirts of the city. An infiltration by the government on Amity grounds sets them off on a long escape journey, where they make major stops along the way at Factionless and Candor (both of which become allies) and ultimately end up back at government headquarters.

When Tris is captured by Jeanine and her team, she is forced to unlock a box that holds an important secret, a box that can only be opened by someone who is 100 percent Divergent and can successfully complete a simulation from each faction. Tris' inner turmoil about her mother's death, her increasingly violent behavior and her true love for Four become emotional obstacles in each sim. It is in these sim scenes, once again, that Roth toys with our understanding of what is sim and what is reality --- the same struggle that Tris herself is working through (oh, the irony!). SPOILER ALERT: Roth plays with us even more when the box is finally opened and it is revealed that the whole city (government, factions, et al.) was an experiment put in place by the "real" government, which lies outside the infamous wall. What's that saying? The grass is always greener on the other side? And while we don't quite know yet what is going on "out of bounds," we do know that Tris and Four's love is real. While we wait to find out, we'll just channel the wise words of Shakespeare and repeat: We're in the sim. We're out of the sim. We are the sim. We aren't the sim.
Let's just say the first movie was mere Four-play (lolol). Things got hot and heavy in Insurgent, with Theo and Shai Shai stripping down --- figuaretively and, more importantly, literally. Their love becomes a major theme in this installment and a lot of the plot revolves around the strength of their emotions. SPOILER ALERT: Four publicly professes his love for Tris while injected with Candor's truth-telling serum. Often, in these kinds of action movies, the heroes act in the interest of the greater good. Here, it seemed like all they cared about was keeping each other safe; love was the impetus for each action. We will admit that it was nice to see Tris being as protective over Four as he was over her. Turns out Paul McCartney (that old dude who's been collaborating with Kanye a bunch) and the Beatles were right after all: All you need is love.
Nicole Sherman is the co-editor of