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?
A disappointing, middle-grade version of Ready Player One (which was one of my favorite books of the year,) is the best summary of my reactions to S. J. Kincaid’s Insignia. The problems I found in Insignia reminded me of the ones I found in Wesley King’s The Vindico; both books had an compelling plot, creative ideas, but he execution failed to bring those ideas to life and grazed over heavy-handed issues in exchange for superficial cliches.
My Suspension of Disbelief is Straining, These People Need Anger Management!:
First of all, all these 14-15 year olds are supposed to be the cream of the crop with exceptional intelligence and abilities (Figure Skating Champion, Scholarship winners, etc.) With the aid of a neural processor in their brains they have become even smarter than usual. Actually, their intelligence is optional since they just “download” knowledge instead of learning. Whatever they don’t know their computer brains will look it up for them. They are also given perfect complexions and grow six inches in a week. Yet, despite their intelligence, their priorities only lie in teasing each other with stuff like “girly hands” and “man-hands.” Not sure what the intelligence changed in them. The knowledge certainly hasn’t made them any more empathetic, as they spend most of their time plotting to ruin each other’s lives (and are encouraged to do so!.)