Tris, Tobias, Uriah, Christina, Tori, Peter, and Caleb follow Elizabeth Prior's advice and leave the city outside the fence. They discover the remains of the government and piece together information on why their city and factions were created after people destroyed each other throughout the world. While they have more freedom outside the fence, they soon discover that it really isn't much different than inside the fence. Tris decides to do something about it with her friends, but it is a dangerous and risky plan.
Roth adds Tobias's point of view and uses first person narration. I really prefer third person point of view because there are so many "I's" with the first and the alternating voices can sound alike at times, especially in the scenes that involve Tris and Tobias's sexual attraction for each other. I understand that the structure of the novel needed Tobias's thoughts in the plot, especially for the ending, and I liked a different point of view. I did notice that Tris always seems right in these books and I prefer my characters flawed. She always knows when someone is lying or always makes the right decision. When she martyr's herself it should make me feel more sad that this wise and special person died, but I felt manipulated by the storyline more than empathetic with the character. It didn't make her as authentic as she could have been if she'd made some mistakes. I prefer the character that grows into a better person, not the character that seems perfect most of the time. I struggle daily with being a better person and find I connect more with those conflicted characters. This is my bias.
The theme of labeling people and oppression is explored but again it felt like a rehashing of the faction oppressions and nothing new. People in power want to blame others for problems in society. One thing that was different was the exploration of how people not only blame others but accept the limits others place on them in society. This actually made me think of the Asian culture that doesn't really believe that you can't do something because you lack talent. Instead they believe that you are not working hard enough at the task at hand to improve. I was actually thinking of sports and how Westerners can say they have no "natural talent" at a sport and therefore are no good at it. They've placed limits on themselves without trying. I know I do that with learning a foreign language saying "I'm too old" or some other lame excuse when in reality I really have no interest learning it or putting the mega amount of time required to learn it.
I think Caleb's point of view would have been interesting. Perhaps the sacrifice would have been explored more in depth rather than the romance. She does tie in love and limitations with Tris and Tobias having each of them believe more in the other. Tris believes more in Tobias's worth than he and Tobias believes more in her strength than she. The two bring out the best in each other and their love grows as a result. If you like tragic love stories and heroes who save the world, then you'll enjoy this series.