Author: S. J. Kincaid
Series: Insignia Trilogy (Book One)
Who’s it for? Teens.
What’s it about? Tom Raines is a gifted gamer, but thanks to an unsettled upbringing has had a sporadic education that’s left him with little prospects. That is till it turns out the US army has taken a great interest in his gaming skills and recruit him to be a virtual reality combatant to help fight World War Three.
Now Tom has real prospects ahead of him but it’s never really that simple.
What’s good about it? There’s nicely gauged humour in this that did make me laugh out loud – it’s something which can sometimes be missed in other reads in the same genre. Tom is brilliant. Ruthless without being merciless – he has a killer instinct but he’s so, so loyal and friendly it’s very difficult not to warm to him. His friends are wonderful too and their interactions with each other are a delight… although I can’t help but wonder if Beamer has a further part to play…
The plot line is utterly fascinating and the world building is pretty good. It raises a lot of questions about where our society is going with it’s technological use – Tom and his friends all have neural processors implanted in their brains – their brains – and I can quite easily believe that we will one day reach that point.
It’s a very intriguing idea that World War Three will be fought cleanly and harmlessly in space, without too many (if any really) repercussions on Earth. There was something fun about trying to work out everyone’s agenda though and I really wasn’t expecting the ending to work out the way it did.
What’s bad about it? While I liked the idea of WW3 being conducted in space, I’m not sure I bought it. It didn’t seem like they were at war at all, just engaging in mini skirmishes. But I’m going to reserve judgement on this one. So it’s not a bad thing. More of a ‘hmm’.
The verdict? A solid sci-fi adventure that keeps you gripped from word go. The premise is fantastic and there’s a great mix of humour and tension. The characters are fantastic with distinct personalities that had real depth. It was also very refreshing that there wasn’t a romance taking centre stage! The focus was more on Tom’s friendship than who’s pants he wanted to get into – it was sub plot rather than main plot and all the better for it. All in all a brilliant read that will keep you entertained!