I’ve decided I quite like books about gamers despite being abysmal at gaming, myself. Insignia by SJ Kincaid is totally legit and is BONUS: about an underdog kid recruited by the army for his mad gaming skills. Insignia contains a fascinating, if depressing future and characters that I alternately wanted to hug and choke.
Tom Raines is an ugly kid who lives with his paranoid gambler dad, Neil. The two move from casino to casino. Tom’s very far behind with school. While he may lack academic aptitude, he excels at gaming. So much so that the government has their eye on him for recruitment. You see, the world is basically ruled by evil corporations hellbent on fighting over land rights, only World War III isn’t being fought on Earth, but in space by teens piloting machines with their brains from Earth. In America, the teenagers do this from the Pentagonal Spire.
Yeah, so despite Tom’s misgivings, he accepts a position and thrives at the Spire in hopes of making an elite company – Camelot Company. Yet, of course there’s the potential of losing it all and the life Tom’s now living not being all that is is cracked up to be. Frankly, I loved reading about the Spire and the military technology and tactics. I liked the battles and the machinations of the characters to try and get into Camelot Company and do well at various challenges — including writing computer viruses.
For the most part, I liked Tom as the main character of Insignia, but there were a lot of instances where as an adult he really aggravated me. Like, he’s stubborn and a pain about stupid things. Like there is this lieutenant teaching the students valuable things, who I personally think Tom could relate to, but whom Tom consistently resists. And dude, by actually sitting the fuck down and listening, I think Tom would’ve been able to prevent some unpleasantness. But, oh no, he feels the need to get in a pissing contest with this person and it is super aggravating from my point of view.
Yet, despite my one complain about Insignia by SJ Kincaid, the minor characters make up for my irritation with Tom. Like, Wyatt who is this girl with no social skills but is a genius and totally loyal, or Vik the wisecracking Indian, plus Yuri, the kind Russian everyone thinks is a spy. If I’m being completely honest, I liked the auxiliary characters and empathized with the more than I did with Tom.
Friends, Insignia is a pretty long book and kind of a time investment. The pace, however, is pretty brisk. Like, it’s not a slow, drag to read for of book but one where the plot and the world is so interesting you just have to keep turning the pages.
For the most part, I was a fan of Kincaid’s debut novel. Yet, various bits of Tom Raines’ charter and Insignia pushed my buttons. However, I have zero doubt in my mind about being back for the sequel. I am absolutely excited about it and cannot wait to see what tactics and battles are next for the combatants of the Intrasolar Forcers.
Disclosure: Received for review.
Other reviews of Insignia by SJ Kincaid:
Great Imaginations – “I LOVED this book. Loved it”
Sash & Em – “Lots of BANG, WHOOSH, PHEW”
Hobbitsies – “Got action-packed pretty quickly and wiped my fears away”
Read an excerpt of Insignia by clicking here