Expected Publication: July 10, 2012 by Katherine Tegen Books
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.
I’ll be honest. I did not expect much out of Insignia. It sounded interesting enough to attempt, but I really didn’t go in with any expectations. Books about gamers and hackers typically aren’t my thing, but Insignia was different from others I’ve read.
To me, the world-building in a dystopian society has to be perfected, or it doesn’t work. It is a crucial element, and Insignia delivered on that front. This futuristic world is woven intricately, and contains all of the elements needed to make a scenario such as this believable.
These characters were fantastic. I fell in love with all of them. They’re so well written and there was never a dull moment from them. I found myself laughing numerous times. So much fun. The way they interact with one another feels so authentic, reading it makes you feel like you’re at home. Despite the fact that the story takes place in the future where the world has changed drastically, I still felt comfortable while reading it. I think the characters made this possible. I think it’s worth pointing out that this doesn’t read like a middle grade/early YA, despite the fact that the characters are just 14. They’re highly intelligent beings, but they still keep a youthful edge.
My only complaint would be the brief moments of info-dump. It isn’t excessive but it was noticeable enough to slow down the reading momentum for me. Yet, all of the information is important, and the book wouldn’t be the same without it.
I hope Insignia gets the recognition it deserves. I fear the lack of in-your-face romance will prevent a lot of people from picking it up, but I hope I’m wrong about that. This was a great start to a promising series, and I am eager to see what’s next for Tom and his friends.