Published: July 10th, 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Copy: Courtesy of publisher and Netgalley
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.
Insignia was an interesting and exciting story that takes a few 'what if' questions and runs with them. What if big corporations become more important than governments? What if wars are fought not by countries, but by individuals plugged into computers. What if teenagers are the only ones whose brains can handle the computer interface. Scary concepts right?
Well S J Kincaid has made all of these concepts alarmingly plausible. Tom Raines find himself at a training academy where he plugs himself into a computer every night to download his homework. His brain can be controlled by programs and things are definitely not what they seem. The idea that some other person could tell my brain to make me bark like a dog, or eat grass both fascinated and terrified me.
Intelligent, believable characters help to make Insignia intriguing and fast paced and not all of the situations were beyond the realms of possibility. Insignia was one of those books that kept getting better the more you read. The tension ratchets up slowly, the character development builds and the whole thing was fun to read. I've noticed since I finished reading that the book has stayed with me and I find myself thinking about direct human/computer interfaces at odd times and I shudder. Not a concept that I'm looking forward to at all.