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Review: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid (Insignia #1)

Egalley thanks to Katherine Tegen Books

Synopsis from Goodreads
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.

US release: July 10th 2012/UK release: August 2nd 2012.

Amazon  US/UK | Amazon kindle US | The Book Depository US/UK (£5.24!) | Fishpond


* * *
 I loved this book, peeps, I really did. There are many reasons why, and I will try to describe them without any spoilers. *wink*

First of all, any of you old enough to remember the awesomeness of War Games? This book made me think of that movie even before I read it. The idea of supercomputers and long distance war is not new. 

As to how Tom was picked up, it's pretty real as well. For example, I've read that Pentagon monitors all the best strategy gamers as possible recruits. So, from the very beginning the plot rang true for me.

I also fully admit that the world ruled by corporations is a very real possibility for the future generations. This is not the only book that talks about such issues. Take Jennifer Government for example, which I'm reviewing next week, or Seed...

Insignia has many layers, and what you take from this book is entirely up to you. Some will concentrate on an impossible love story between superheroes Tom and Medusa, others will enjoy the gaming aspect and sci-fi atmosphere of the book.  Someone else will see plenty of conspiracies, desire of total control, brain-washing, the immense non-explored capabilities of human brain and a company of best friends thwarting evil plans of villains beyond borders.

I saw all three and loved every bit of it, from lieutenant Blackbourn who tried to force the young recruits to learn how to control the system not to let the system control you to young genius Wyatt, who simply rocked that place (two words: chicken virus). She was ruthless!

The ideas of this book boggle the mind. This is a bit like discovering Matrix for the first time. When the recruits become one with the supercomputer, it takes control over their nervous system and their brain. The concept of reality is not something you can be sure of anymore, because if that computer has programmed you to believe you are someone or something else... Believe me, you will go with it and wouldn't know what hit you. THAT is scary.

Tom is a great character with just enough guts, talent and stubbornness to survive in shark-infested waters of Pentagon Spire. He also has awesome friends, - Vik, Wyatt, Yuri, his clever dad, who everyone thinks is a conspiracy nut, and of course Medusa. An enemy, an adversary, who is very much like him and thinks out of the box.

Insignia is excellently paced, packed with action and makes you think. It's full of awesome. What more can you ask from YA novel that is both appealing to boys and girls? I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

* * *
Знаки Отличия - это шикарнейшая мешанина научной фантастики, антиутопии и YA. Здесь вам и Военные Игры, и Матрица и Хакеры. Эта книга заставляет задуматься о нашем будущем и возможностях человеческого мозга, и в тоже время остаётся взрывной и необычайно развлекательной литературой жанра.

Каждый из нас вынесет из неё свои собственные выводы. Кто-то вспомнит Тома и Медузу, их виртуальное противостояние и постепенное проявление симпатии и зачатки любви. Кто-то обратит внимание на слова  летейнанта Блакбурна о том, что юные рекруиты должны научиться контролировать систему, иначе система будет контролировать тебя. Кто-то зааплодирает молодому гению Уайатту, которая в этой книге отлично всех "отымеет", а кто-то только подтвердит свои страхи о будущем, где корпорации управляют миром и ведут космические войны за ресурсы на других планетах с помощью виртуальных игроков пока массе населения промывают мозги, что те самые юные бойцы воюют, чтобы нас защитить... Э-э, постойте, а разве этот сценарий вам ещё незнаком?

Рекомендую всем, ибо надо.


Blodeuedd said...

Hm, yes maybe..maybe :D

kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

You don't read a lot of YA, do you, Blodeuedd? This one is one of the best examples of great YAs :)

Nina @ Death, Books, and Tea said...

I loved the way the characters were just as important as the plot-I'd love to have them as friends. The Wyatt and Yuri romance was so adorable! Great review.

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