Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid


Title: Insignia
Series: Insignia Series
Book #: One
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Source: Local Library
Format: Hardcover

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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? (taken from goodreads.com)
I didn't really know what to expect when I found Insignia on the library shelf. However, I'd seen the high reviews on goodreads and knew enough about it to check it out. Boy, am I glad that I did. This book is pure gold for lovers of science fiction and manipulative mind games. Being the geek that I am, I was fascinated by the idea of computerized minds and the virtual simulations found in Tom's world.

The entire time I was reading the book, I couldn't help but compare it to Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. The two stories are extremely similar in their plot lines and characters. However, I've never been a fan of Ender's Game, mostly because the writing style bored me and I hated how everyone abused Ender's talents and naivete. Kincaid's novel is more teen-friendly, and it drew me in immediately. I related to Tom more than I ever connected with Ender, and the premise never lost my interest.

Tom's group of friends at the Spire is what made the book for me. Each character has a defined, quirky personality that I immediately connected with. Reading about their interactions humored and delighted me. Combined with a downright awesome plot, they created a book that I couldn't put down. 

Don't worry- there's plenty of conspiracies and action scenes here. I wouldn't be surprised if the book was optioned for a movie. I could picture all of the fight scenes so clearly, as well as the characters and settings. 

Although Tom and his friends are all around the age of fourteen, I wouldn't just recommend this book to younger teens. Tom's intelligence and maturity makes him seem much older, and the serious issues he deals with will appeals to readers of all ages. 


Even though I'm not a huge sci-fi fan, this is one novel that I'll be recommending to all of my friends. Two thumbs up!