Saturday, January 10, 2015

Book Review: Insignia

Title: Insignia
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating: 4

Synopsis (via Goodreads): The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S. J. Kincaid's fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy perfect for fans of Ender's GameThe planet's natural resources are almost gone, and war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning. The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn't seem like a hero. He's a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones. As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom's life completely changes. Suddenly, he's someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there's a price to pay.

Review: I don't normally read sci-fi, but the beauty of Battle of the Books is that I get to explore different genres. Needless to say, I've discovered I'm not the biggest fan of sci-fi. 

The main idea of Insignia is a group of teenagers turned robot from a neutral processor (aka mini computer) surgically installed in their heads after being recruited for the military. Instead of one-on-one combat like the military in today's society, the fighting is done via droids. What are they fighting over? Area in space. Why? I never really caught that. In fact, I think I skimmed over a lot of dull information. For example, when Tom was in class and was learning the politics behind the war. I don't keep up with current politics, so book politics don't get my time of day either. The plot was promising, but didn't get me excited, take my breath away, or give me the urge to chuck my copy at the wall. (Some books can do that to you).

What surprised me is the love I had for the characters. There wasn't a large amount of growth for any of them, and most of the conflict fell on Tom's shoulders, but they each had their own unique personality -- personalities you don't usually find in books. Vik is the smartass best friend who supports Tom throughout his journey at the Spire. They called themselves the Doctors of Doom during their programming class even though the best program they created made people fart constantly... you know, 14-year-old boy humor. Wyatt is the smartest girl at the Spire, but tends to blend into the background. She's a socially awkward programming wizard who doesn't know how to celebrate her own victories because she's so modest. Yuri is thought to be a spy because he's Russian (the enemy), so his processor is scrambled. When the other Combatants are being given classified information during class, he blacks out. All four had their own quirks, which made their relationships comedic. *Honorable mentions: Medusa (the undefeated fighter for the Russo-Chinese forces), Neil (Tom's alcoholic stepfather) and Nigel (the bullied nerd who quietly plots revenge on everything and everyone).*

The one question that comes to mind after finishing Insignia is this: Why is it a series?! It doesn't need to be a series. Pretty sure this one book had four different storylines crammed in between one cover. It would've been a great standalone.

Come on, S.J. Kincaid. You're breaking my heart.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Book Review: The False Prince

Title: The False Prince
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Publisher: Scholastic
Rating: 5

Synopsis (via Goodreads): In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well. As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together. An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats. 

Review: Book two of the five I'm responsible for reading during my Battle of the Books competition is another winner of the awesomesauce award! I've had the best luck recently when it comes to books and their kickass plots. I'm going to be thoroughly depressed when I stumble across a dud... 

Sage (picture Aladdin) is an orphan who is trapped in an orphanage run by a horrible woman (picture Miss Hattie from Despicable Me) and often finds himself in trouble -- stealing food, what else? -- when one day, out of nowhere, nobility knocks on the orphanage door requesting Sage personally. While other orphans would see this opportunity as a way to live a new life, Sage figures that he'll just be taken in as a servant. (You know, nothing too extravagant). The snowball of a plot starts rolling and the reader quickly discovers Conner's motives are nothing but evil and Sage seems a little bit too comfortable in the royal castle. Lie after lie, test after test, Sage transforms into Conner's false prince, which may or may not turn out for the better. 

Although a bit slow in the beginning, The False Prince was, as stated in the synopsis, "an extraordinary adventure." I felt that all the characters were well-rounded and the plot was something original. You don't come across a book about good 'ole kings, queens, and castles every day! While Sage was learning about the nobility line, I did get confused, but it wasn't of utmost importance so I shook it off as a minor detail. 

The conclusion was beautiful. To be honest, I think my face looked something like this: 
Who am I kidding? 

My face looked like this during the whole book... 

I regret nothing.