Author: S. J. Kincaid
Published: Aug 02, 2012 by Hot Key Books
First Published: July 2012 by Harper Collins
Buy: The Book Depository
Insignia put me in geek heaven. This is science fiction as it should be - thrilling, unpredictable and completely entertaining.
Imagine the thought of having a computer in your head. Never again would you require the use of a calculator or have the need to open a map; your brain could do it all for you in an instant. At the Pentagonal Spire, trainees recruited by the State are fitted with neural processors, computer-like devices that are inserted into the brain. Thomas Raines, the State’s latest plebe, is aiming to become a Combatant, a top-ranking soldier involved in the war between the Indo-American and Russo-Chinese alliances. This is World War Three and it is fought in space – using virtual reality skills.
There was just something about this premise that clicked with me. I’m not much of a gamer, nor do I even know much about gaming skills, but I loved how easy it was to become completely invested in the ideas. Tom’s training at the Spire composes of calisthenics, applied simulations, even programming wars… That may not sound like the most riveting of experiences, but trust me, S. J. Kincaid has a way of making these ideas come alive. I was completely enthralled by the thought of a neural processor and fascinated by the way it weaved itself into everyday life for the plebes. They had time notifications, language translations, even the ability to download their homework into their thoughts as they slept. It was all very surreal but felt chillingly natural too.
It’s not too often that I get to read a YA book from a male perspective but I really appreciated it here. Tom was an instantly likeable character. Hilarious, stubborn and such a boy - I wouldn’t have wanted him any other way. I thought the author portrayed him perfectly, from his slight bursts of immaturity all the way to his angst-filled teenage troubles. He was realistic character and very easy to root for. I enjoyed the good-natured camaraderie and banter between himself and his friends, remaining fully entertained by it all right up to the finishing pages.
The only part of this book that didn’t have my undivided attention was the start. The opening chapter was a little dull and quite unlike the rest of the book. I’m glad I stuck with it though as the story picked up soon enough.
It may have taken some getting into, but this book impressed me is various ways. It’s quite obvious S. J. Kincaid put thought into the world-building and characters, never failing to appeal to my inner sci-fi enthusiast. With no shortage of humour and action, Insignia is a promising start to what is set to be an engrossing series. If book 2 is nearly as much fun as this, I think I may just end up promoting this series to my favourites shelf.
Rating: 4 stars
Rating: 4 stars