Insurgent begins only an hour after Divergent ends. At the beginning of chapter 1, Tris wakes up from a dream about killing Will, the friend that she'd had to shoot during the battle at the end of the first book when his mind was taken over by a destructive simulation. Tris and her group are on the run from the city, heading beyond its limits to the Amity faction compound. Tobias, Tris's former trainer and current love interest, knows the gate combination because he worked in the Dauntless faction control room.
They make it into Amity and are greeted by Johanna Reyes, Amity's representative to the council. She grants them permission to stay the night, but warns them that the following day the entire Amity community will have to come together and decide if they want to continue to house them here. Amity tends to their wounds and feeds them, and Tris is given a liquid that puts her into a dreamless sleep so she can rest.
Tris wakes again from another dream about Will, this time in a bed in Amity. Under her pillow is the hard drive that they took from the Dauntless control center, containing the data that set the simulation in motion and controlled Dauntless minds. Tobias comes in to check on her, going by the name Four again while he is in Amity. After that, Tris gets ready to go to Amity's decision-making gathering to decide their fate, and her old friend Susan from Abnegation comes to help her get ready since she is injured from her gunshot wound. Susan remarks that it is a shame all these events happened now, because the Abnegation leaders were apparently planning to do something wonderful.
Tris makes the drastic decision to cut her hair, because she thinks that with her mother dead and everything different, she can no longer look the same. Tobias and Caleb, Tris's brother, have a small stand-off on their way to the gathering, when Caleb insinuates that Tobias is too old for Tris. Tris is taken aback by the Amity's way of making decisions; each member of their faction has an equal say in everything, and they discuss thoroughly before casting their votes. Eventually, Amity decides that they will allow all refugees to stay as long as they get rid of their weapons and avoid all conflict. Tris knows she is not good at that, and she has a gun hidden under her mattress just in case.
Tris hears Johanna and Marcus, Tobias's abusive father and another council member, talking in the orchards, so she sneaks out to follow them. They are wondering why Jeanine, the ambitious leader of Erudite, chose to attack when she did. Marcus says that the reason Jeanine attacked Abnegation was to steal some sensitive information that Abnegation had been trusted with, and he is afraid that if he tells Johanna anything more about it, Jeanine will destroy the information. This is the first time Tris realizes why Jeanine attacked. She decides she needs to know this information. Johanna persists, but Marcus does not budge.
Tris walks in on Tobias and Caleb throwing knives at cheese, Tobias showing off his skill. Allegedly, Caleb had come to Tobias to talk about Tris—to give him the "big brother' talk. Tris goes on to tell Tobias what she heard between Marcus and Johanna. Tobias thinks Marcus is lying to make himself feel important, but Tris disagrees.
While eating a meal, Caleb gives Tris a lesson on the farming techniques that Erudite developed for Amity, and Tris is struck by how dependent all the factions had been on Erudite. Tris finally tells Caleb the three factions she had shown aptitude for during her test—Dauntless, Abnegation, and Erudite. Caleb is surprised that someone could test into three factions. She explains the other unusual things she can do, like alter simulations with her mind when she is in them. Tobias comes in, upset about some kind of meddling on Amity's part that has created conflict. He promises to tell Tris later.
Marcus comes over to talk to them, and tells Tris that Abnegation has decided to leave the Amity compound, because it is selfish of them to stay there while the rest of their faction is torn apart back in the city. He wants Tris and Dauntless to escort them back into the face. Tris is uncertain of his motives, but Tobias says they should leave the day after tomorrow, so she agrees.
Tris decides to follow Marcus to see if she can get some more information. Marcus goes into the water filtration building, where Tris reveals herself and announces that she heard Marcus and Johanna talking the other day. He does not tell her the information he kept from Johanna, but he does tell her his father risked his life and perhaps died for this information. She offers to help him, but Marcus says she is useless, and Tris responds that Tobias was right about him.
Tris has yet another nightmare about Will, and Tobias brings her into his bed to comfort her. They nearly sleep together, but Tris decides that she cannot be with him in that way if she is only doing it to distract herself from grief. He understands and lets her drift off to sleep, murmuring that he loves her before she does.
Insurgent picks up a mere hour after Divergent left off, and it plunges readers right back into the action with hardly any recapping at all. A lot of sequels will begin with a lot of explanation to serve as a reminder of the events that happened previously, so Roth's decision not to do this definitely has a purpose. Slowing down to explain would take away from the fast-paced action occurring. Tris and her group are in the process of moving, and moving fast—they want to get out of the city as quickly as possible. If readers were slowed down by a recap, they would not feel as if they were moving quickly and purposefully right along with the characters.
Over the course of these chapters, Tris has three different dreams about killing Will. Whenever a dream appears three times in a text, it is most certainly significant. Even though survival called for it, Tris is still haunted by what she did to her friend. She has not yet forgiven herself; right now the guilt only plagues her in her sleep, but readers can expect this guilt to hinder her even more as the story continues on.
Tris's relationship with Tobias remains steadfast, though they have both been deeply affected by the events that happened at the end of the last book. There are still traces of their old trainer-student dynamic; Tris still often looks to him for guidance, as evidenced by her waiting to hear his point of view before agreeing to serve as the Abnegation escort back into the city. Tris is also wary of using Tobias as a crutch, however. She wants to be sure that her need for him is entirely out of love, not out of a desire for a distraction from the troubles she is facing. This is a large part of the reason why she still fears physical intimacy.
Caleb has returned to his big brother role, even though he and Tris have grown miles apart since their Choosing Day. It is instinctual for him to try and protect Tris; this is why he gives Tobias the "big brother" talk and is wary of their relationship all the time. But there are some other interesting ambiguities surrounding Caleb, too. It is easy to forget that he is a member of the faction responsible for the vicious war now unfolding inside the city. He has tried to distance himself from this attack as much as possible, but certain scenes—when he tells Tris about Erudite's farming innovations for Amity, for instance—remind readers that he is, in fact, Erudite. Caleb has the potential to be a resource for Tris and company as they try and stop this ambitious faction—however, it is also important to keep a close eye on him, because it is difficult to know exactly where his loyalties lie. Faction before blood, remember?
As a faction, Amity was kept under wraps for much of the first book. Tris did not show aptitude for it, nor did she get the chance to meet many Amity citizens. Since readers see the world through her eyes, we had no exposure to this faction. Now, though, it appears that all the other factions have something to learn from them. They have kept peace while everyone else has become entwined in war, and much of this likely stems from their democratic way of decision-making. Tris scorns it at first, but through their careful, collaborative, and respectful consideration, they managed to make a drastic decision very quickly without conflict.
More than anything else, this is what sets Amity apart. Amity is very different from the other factions in terms of leadership and government, and Roth shows this by placing the Amity compound outside the city limits. War is inside the fence; outside is peace and democracy. Amity is separated from the others both ideologically and physically. There is much to learn from Amity—however, we can only hope that they do not go too far in their desire to keep the peace and avoid conflict.
There have been some new developments that foreshadow the course of the rest of the novel. Marcus's confession that Abnegation was hiding some sensitive information that Erudite wanted was huge, and it will no doubt guide Tris's actions for the duration of the story. But Tris's deliberately working against Marcus's wishes has already widened the rift between Marcus and his son Tobias, who will of course side with Tris in this matter. It is unlikely that this father-son relationship will ever be repaired.