Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review Wednesday - Insignia

Author: S.J. Kincaid
Genre: Teen Science Fiction
Published: 7/10/2012
Pages: 464
My Rating: ★★★★★

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 III. 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?

Kincaid's debut is humorous, fast-paced, and action packed. I enjoyed every second of it.

Her take on WWIII is intriguing and disarmingly realistic. Though there are still governments, corporations basically rule the world. I think her story is very critical of big businesses today and how they have so much influence. The battles between the Indo-American Alliance and the Russo-Chinese Alliance are fought with spaceships that are controlled on earth by teenagers who have neural processors installed in their brains. There's no risk of death, but there's always the chance of having your brain messed up by a virus or having it reprogrammed by the enemy.

The main character, Tom, is funny, easygoing, brave, utterly ruthless when provoked, and, at times, bloodthirsty. When others run away in fear, he charges on, sword swinging. The best thing though: he's a normal kid (besides the computer he gets in his brain, of course). He's not a genius, not some amazing athlete. He's your average, scrawny, pimple-faced fourteen-year-old who's good at playing video games. I found him to be super likable.

This book has something for everyone--computer geeks, gamers, fantasy freaks (*waves* That's me!), history buffs. There are tons of references, especially to fantasy books and movies as well as real life people and battles. During their training simulations, they fight as King Arthur and his Knights, defeat Japanese ronin, fend off zombies, relive the battle of Troy... Kincaid does an amazing job incorporating all of these elements.

Overall, awesome read. Highly recommended. 

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