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?
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.
So- I want to make something clear from the beginning: it's pretty much love or hate this book. For those who have read Ender's Game, I feel like you will LOVE this. Veronica Roth says readers will not be able to put this down. There you have another thing- if you enjoy Veronica Roth and her opinions, you should check out this book. This is die-hard dystopian with an all-out futuristic feel to it. For those who love these kinds of books (dystopian, futuristic, war, strategy, etc.) this books receives a five glass slipper review.
HOWEVER- those who don't enjoy that? I'd like you all to still try it out. Sure, it's may not be your cup of tea, but so? Just try it out- if you don't get hooked after the first few chapters, then you can go right ahead and be done with it. I'd say it's a 4 glass slippers book without the dystopian-love going on.
Insignia is from the POV of Tom Reines- yes, you're definitely getting a guy's perspective in this one. He's arrogant, vicious, and has a "major attitude issue." Hmm, what's that? He sounds completely horrible? Ah, fear not. That's the side people with a stick up their butts think of him. Other people view him as a strong-willed genius-strategist who is huge on integrity. I'm pretty sure most will be able to relate to him in some way or at least cheer him on. He's the underdog who doesn't take crap- what's not to like? (plus he goes through this major transformation that's cool to read about)
Okay this futuristic world will ROCK YOUR SOCKS OFF. So think of one of your favorite worlds- maybe awesome, magical Harry Potter World? Now imagine a slightly less awesome (what can I say, J.K. Rowlings set the standards high) dystopian world. Not a magical or paranormal world. The possibly-future-Earth-world. It's startling. It's impressive. It's amazing. The creativity needed to make this up? Astounding. There are so many details and so much information inserted along the storyline you can just roll with it! There's enough information and past-references so that you get a feel for it, but there is so much more and so much futuristic-ness to it that you're left staring.
Hmmm..... Great story. The only thing? You really have to like dystopian. (and have a good attention span) Otherwise you get a major headache, want to call it quits, and think "ughhhh". Not that I did that, of course...
As a reader, you really have to focus on it. You have to connect the dots and keep pace, otherwise you'll get real confused. I thought I could skip ahead and get a baby glimpse, eh? Not so much. It's a wonderful story but filled to the brim with details and action. It's quite a thrill to read and once you get into it, the pages just keep turning and turning.
The side characters-
I figured I didn't just want to do his BFF. Why? Because there are a lot of characters in Insignia that you learn to love. Wyatt, Yuri, Vik, Neil, and even Beamer and Elliot. A lot of the time, I found myself cracking up- but beware: it's definitely a nerdy sort of banter. And my inner geek basked in it. [funny image, that] These characters are literally the smartest teens out there, but they all play their part in Tom's life. Vik with his humorous Spicy Indian personality. Wyatt with her awkward, outcast, hacker self. (sometime's she's so awkward it's unbearably funny) Yuri in all his buff, android-like Russian glory. Neil as his gambling, loudly-opinionated father. Beamer because he is Beamer. And Elliot because you get to learn the guy behind the image.
All in all? Great characters.
Thumbs up if you like geeky/dystopian/strategy/gamer books. Thumbs up if you don't know what you like. Major thumbs up if you try this one out.