Saturday, January 10, 2015
Book Review: Insignia
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
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 Game. The 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.