Insignia (Insignia #1) – S.J. Kincaid

Insignia (Insignia #1) – S.J. KincaidTitle: Insignia (Insignia #1) by S. J. Kincaid
Publishing Info: July 10, 2012 by HarperCollins
Source: Library
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 22, 2012

    The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S. J. Kincaid's fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy perfect for fans of Ender's Game.
    The planet's natural resources are almost gone, and war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning. The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn't seem like a hero. He's a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.
    As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom's life completely changes. Suddenly, he's someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there's a price to pay...
 

Breaking it Down Further: A teenage VR wizard, Tom Raines doesn’t have much else going for him. Hopping from casino to casino with his gambling-addicted father, little to no interest in school, and a classic case of teenage acne, Tom is waiting for a way to get out – any way out – of the life he’s dealing with. When he gets plucked up to be a part of the Spire, the military academy that trains specifically teens how to pilot the spacecrafts currently battling WWIII (which exists strictly in space), Tom has little reason to say no. It’s his opportunity to escape his crummy life, maybe make some friends, and essentially play VR for a living. The corruption and corporate greed of his sponsors, a tough teacher, and no privacy from the military begin to be the least of his problems and Tom must face the harsh truths that have been hidden from the public and learn how to navigate his new life… One he can’t ever turn his back on.

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Now of course, a book about wars isn’t something I’d traditionally pick up. I’d seen several reviews saying the same thing and about how awesome the book was and I’m glad to say, I wasn’t disappointed! More than anything, I was left with a feeling of how well it was written. Yes, Tom is only fourteen, which is young for most YA novels that are floating around there and — let’s face it — although I’m reluctant to admit it, I know how immature I was at fourteen. Since the characters have to grow up fast and adapt to military standards, I think we see a lot more maturity shine through although there are still a lot of fun “kids being kids” moments as well.

I was actually really interested in the military/war aspect of the book, which I didn’t really expect to be. It’s World War III and all of the fighting is done in space. The drills and practices are all interactive virtual reality segments so all of the violence is simulated and we’re left with no real bloodshed at all. Thinking about it from the other side, Tom also has to adjust to the fact that all of the killing, the ruthlessness, the fighting — It’s easy to do when it’s just a game. Once he has to think about actually performing with real ships, it becomes a whole different story that he didn’t take into consideration.

I also really loved all of the interweaving plot lines that cover the basics of a book — the friendships and loyalty (especially when we’re playing with treason here), a little bit of teenage romance, jealousy, pride, and then even more serious topics like corporate greed and the boundaries of what exactly is acceptable and what crosses the line into evil.

I really was surprised at how much I enjoyed it and I think male or female, young or old, and audience can pick this book up and not only enjoy it, but take a real message away from it as well.

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Tom: I love a good coming-of-age story. Tom grows up very quickly in this book, even after living a life with a lot of hardships and almost taking care of his father and not the other way around. I think that prepared him for facing a lot of difficult situations but really, he’s still only 14. Tom was a really likable character and it was really easy to follow his story.
Vik: I really liked Vik as Tom’s best friend at the academy – they have a really great friendship going on from covering each other’s backs and then teasing one another right after it. It’s a great best friend dynamic and I think it was crafted really well!
Stephen Beamer: Just a lovable, lazy guy who we later learn a really important lesson from. I love how his story took a little twist and without giving away spoilers, it was really kind of an eye-opener to all of his friends!

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Buy it!

Wow, I really enjoyed this one a lot more than I originally anticipated. I’m so glad I picked this book up! It was really interesting and a lot of fun. Can’t wait to read more of this series!

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(click on the cover to see my review!)

             

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