Author: S. J. Kincaid
Book #: 1
Reading Level: YA
Goodreads Rating: 4.14
Published: July 10th, 2012
More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.
Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?
Gripping and provocative, S. J. Kincaid’s futuristic thrill ride of a debut crackles with memorable characters, tremendous wit, and a vision of the future that asks startling, timely questions about the melding of humanity and technology.
Don't be fooled by the mediocre cover, Insignia is by far one of the best books I've read this year. In fact, it may be the best debut of 2012. I LOVED IT! I loved it so much that I had to pace myself while reading it because I knew that when it was over it would really be over and then I would have to wait God knows how long for the sequel. The only downfall of this book is that it was so good that you can't help but devour it in mere hours.
It has it all really; engaging characters, a great world, great pace, etc. And it's funny! So yeah, add awesome dialogue onto that list. Who doesn't love awesome teenage dialogue?
Tom's world is set in a future where teenagers go to school online, where going to a concrete school is a virtue, and technology has evolved beyond our wildest dreams. Also we are fighting World War III, oh and we are so losing. Wars are not fought on Earth though, to avoid human casualty war is fought on Space, with ships, machines, and virtual pilots. The virtual pilots are tighly kept secrets, secret identities, secret IP numbers, etc. And they are teenagers. All of them. Because teenage brains are still developing so neural processors can be installed in them and they can grow together. This book is like every science fiction teenage geek's wet dreams- including yours truly. Hell if I don't receive my letter by owl when I'm 12 I will be more than happy to volunteer and become a military weapon- I'ts like a perfect back up plan!
This book managed to have a sort of dystopian feel without being like every other dystopian in the market. Sure it focuses on a war, on the military, and on the one teenage boy who might just turn the war in our favor, but it manages to do it through an original scope, very focused on the science and technological part. It was FUN getting to discover how this new world worked, it's technology, and even more fun was how we get to meet all the characters.
The whole book is just perfectly balanced and more than that you can believe it. The way it all is explained you can believe this could happen in a not so distant future to us, with the right technology. (I loved it). So It's believable. It doesn't focus on anything romantic, but instead it tackles issues of belonging, friendship, secrets, and awesome nick names. I like boy humor, I say give me more of it! More YA needs to cater to the boy audience, because every other book I pick up seems to be whispering come to me to the girl demographic.
As a whole this is a really great read. This is one of those books you wish you had temporary amnesia and could read it and experience it for the first time all over again. Did I mention I loved it?