Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Synopsis :

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. . . .

Source for image and synopsis:

Overall Review:

   Let me just get this out there: I love this book.  During the summer of last year, I made it my personal goal to find a book with a spunky male protagonist. I was tired of reading all the books, where there was a typical strong female character lead. (Don't get me wrong; I love strong female characters just as much as I like male characters) Insignia fit what I was looking for: a science-fiction book with a male lead, but enough about me.
  This book first caught me with its concept. Teenagers fighting in space, but not really in space... It's hard to explain. Basically, a person can control a ship in outer space using a special device that is surgically put into their head. (I'm not too sure about now but) This concept was different from what I had been most frequently reading, which was dystopian novels, where the main characters lived in unimaginable poverty. The world that this all takes place in is messed up though. But the author doesn't center the plot around the environment or the corrupt government.
  Tom Raines is just an ordinary teenager, who lives with his father, Neil and their dirt poor. Tom is a skilled gamer, which is how he and his dad make money. Tom and friends (to me) are very much a likable characters.
  The way he handles tough situation will never cease to amuse me. The supporting characters all have their own unique personality and can be told apart. For example, Tom's friend Wyatt, a complete brainiac and other friend, Vikram can be easily told apart. The way Tom builds relationships feel very real to me. The romantic relationship (I won't say with who) also feels very genuine and believable. Now, I'm not saying this book was perfect though.
  If you're looking for back to back action with an extremely suspenseful storyline, you probably won't like this book. This book is full of experiences that Tom has while training, which are fun to reading anyway. There was blobs of history, which were a little hard to read. I didn't really mind it, because it meant that the author took time to develop the little aspects of her story, which is something I have a great appreciation for. I liked this book so much that I gulped down the second book and greedily ate the third one as soon I saw it in the "new book" section of the library. I hope to read more from S.J. Kincaid in the future.

The next part of the review does contain spoilers, so browse with caution (or better) skip it.
*Spoiler Alert*

The Plot:
  As much I loved this book, the main plot line was a little blurry. I can't really remember if they mentioned the Capital Summit (battle thing) earlier in the book, but if they didn't then it would have better. The book was made up of training scenes and Tom trying to get back at his step father, who's name I can't seem to remember or find at the moment, and his company.
 The main baddies in this book is the Russo-Chinese and the Indo-Americans are the goodies. In a way, the book does build up to Medusa (Russo-Chinese fighter) and Tom (Indo-American fighter) and their big battle to capital summit. Medusa and Tom clash many times as well as collaborate with each other. There's also Tom's cool ability to control satellites (which is an ability that only he and Medusa have), but I'm not sure of that really should go in the "plot" section of this review. I would give the plot a 9.

  All the characters in this book are unique. They all have unique personalities and different points of perspective. Each of the characters deal with their own problems and find their own solution. (As I said before) I really like it when an author thinks through the little details and develops background characters. Tom himself makes a fun main character.
  Tom is a reckless kid, who's smarter than he appears. I actually laughed while reading what he did during the test simulations. I was especially amused when he fed his teacher to the shakes during a simulation because he wanted the blood to attract the Sharks. The way he acted while training with Elliot was also pretty funny and had me laughing, while my parents looked on with concerned looks.
  Elliot is probably one of my characters of this book/ series. His personality is the opposite of Tom's. Therefore, the way they develop their relationship is fun to read and the way they become "friends" feels real. I was quite happy when Elliot reappeared in the next books.  The only problem I have with this book is the lack of strong female characters. There are a couple, such as Wyatt and Medusa, but it would have made the cast of characters more solid if there were more; so I give it a 9.5.

  The conclusion was good. It was a solid final battle between Tom and Medusa. The rest of the book didn't really build up to the conclusion though. Nothing that Tom did in the training simulations helped with the final battle. It wasn't like he was fighting space. But the training could have, just as well have been meant to train them to use their abilities. I give the conclusion a 9.

Overall, I really, really liked this book and I have even used it for inspiration for one of my personal stories.

Overall rating: 9.16 out of 10

Thank you for reading!

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