How did I get the book? From L♥vereading in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Science Fiction
First Impression: Evangelion meets Harry Potter = awesome combination.
Synopsis: 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?
250word review: I am really happy I got to review this. Insignia is fascinating, the world building is excellent. Cramming in an entire history without boring the reader is really hard to do and S.J. Kincaid not only succeeded but actually made it interesting.
On the surface Insignia is an adventure story. Tom starts as a skinny kid playing VR games, he is recruited to the Pentagonal Spire because of his killer instinct. Something that apparently most Combatant’s lack. His time at the Spire is a bit like boarding school; lessons, making friends dealing with bullying.
All of the above, some really hilarious moments and the compelling idea of Insignia in itself make this a great book but what takes it that step further is the undercurrents of the story.
Tom’s father warned him when Tom signed up “You’re just another piece of equipment to them…” a warning that rings true throughout the story. Politics, manipulation, even torture test Tom’s loyalty to the limit.
At one point in the story one of Tom’s new friends (Beamer) points out that it’s only a matter of time before someone remembers how war is about killing people. It’s clear given the conduct of so many of the characters in this book it’s not such a leap.
As our hero Tom will make you laugh, worry and cheer for him but he isn’t perfect. I actually believe it’s because he does things I don’t agree with, that Insignia isn’t just a good but a great book.