Friday, 13 September 2013


Fourteen-year-old Tom Raines looks set to go the same way as his listless, gambling addict of a father, with no hope for the future - until one day everything changes.

Tom is recruited by the State to become a Combatant: one of an elite group of teen soldiers, chosen for their unique virtual reality skills, to fight World War III in space!

But is Tom's future really as safe as the army claims?  Are there spies, and corruption, in their number?

And what happens when you question the rules?

I started Insignia back in July, read about 100 pages and then moved onto other books.  I picked up S.J. Kincaid's debut YA again yesterday morning and didn't stop reading until I had finished it (well, I went to work and ate and such but you get the picture).

  • That Tom isn't necessarily a good guy.  He'll do anything to win a game and is often described as vicious.
  • Easy to read; finished Insignia in two sittings.
  • Kincaid portrays plenty instances of friendship between her characters.  The Doctors of Doom!  Tom not wanting to dob Wyatt in; Vik, Wyatt and Yuri realising that Tom wasn't acting like himself and actually staging an intervention; plus the many instances of Wyatt saving Tom.
  • That the whole Heather as a crush sub-plot was dropped pretty quickly, with Tom realising she was manipulative.
  • Echoes of Ready Player One (with the admiration/friendship/romance behind an avatar between Tom and Medusa especially)
  • It's never clear if the good guys are truly the good guys, i.e. Lieutenant Blackburn.
  • Smart!  For a YA book there was plenty more going on political and science/technology-wise than pure action or relationship drama.

Not So Keen On:
  • Information dump!  Sometimes the writing became a little information heavy, but that's somewhat to be expected from a first book setting up a trilogy. 
  • Sometimes the kids read older than they should have done.

Overall, I was really impressed with Insignia and hope that the next book in the trilogy, Vortex, can avoid the second book slump.

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