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? – Goodreads
I was going to wait to review S.J. Kincaid’s Insignia because, hey, July is still months away, but I figured there’s no harm in gushing over its brilliance a little in advance. Before I received my copy, I thought it sounded interesting and I liked that it gave me somewhat of an Ender’s Game vibe. Although I was a little worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, I made it my first read of the year and the pressure was on! You guys… I loved this book!
There are so many sci-fi reads where the government and world building just doesn’t ring true to me, but the one here? Spot on: full of corporate greed, bribery, and corruption. It wasn’t difficult at all to make parallels to our economic situation today.
Secondly, Insignia includes so much technology and it was effing COOL. I was on board as soon as Tom first played in the VR parlor, but it only got better from there: plugging in to download data (homework!), the meal bars, programming and, of course, the simulations; the list really goes on and on with all of the awesome and I was always eager to find out what S.J. Kincaid would introduce next.
And then there’s the cast of characters. They were diverse and had different backgrounds which I LOVED. It’s a true testament to S.J. Kincaid’s writing that I feel that her characters are my friends. I feel like such a cheeseball saying that, but the level of comfort that I felt with them at the Pentagonal Spire is not something I often encounter in my reads. I love characters, sure, and I grow attached to them, but what I encountered here can only be compared to what I felt with the trio in Harry Potter: inside jokes, familiarity, and a sense of belonging. There were so many moments where I burst out laughing due to their antics (this book is FUNNY!) and even more moments where I began to dread the end of the book. Missing them was immediate, but I’m glad there’s still more to come.
While, yes, this is the first book in a series, another thing to admire about Insignia is that S.J. Kincaid offered a clear beginning, middle, and end to the book. I am dying to make my return to the Pentagonal Spire with these characters, but that’s because of my love for her story and characters, and not because she left me suffering with an evil cliffhanger. There’s still much to explore, but I’m glad that S.J. Kincaid was able to have a full story arc take place.
Come July I will be pushing this book into as many hands as I possibly can. It’s such a refreshing, humorous, and thrilling read that I really hope it blows up into something huge… I have a good feeling that it will!
Ah, yes, time for a giveaway! I can’t offer up my ARC because it’s signed, but I can offer a pre-order of the book! It’s open internationally as long The Book Depository ships to you (check here) and it will run through May 5th. You must be 13 years or older to enter and the winner will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address. Extra entries are available. Fill out the Rafflecopter:
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