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Friday, March 8, 2013

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Title: Insignia
Author: S.J. Kincaid
ISBN: 9780062132772
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Released: July 03, 2012
Series: Insignia #1
Duration: 15 hours, 18 minutes
Source: Audiobook from my public library
"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 III. 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?

Gripping and provocative, S. J. Kincaid's futuristic thrill ride of a debut crackles with memorable characters, tremendous wit, and a vision of the future that asks startling, timely questions about the melding of humanity and technology."
First Lines:

"New town, new casino - same old plan. Arizona's Dusty Squanto Casino made it easy for Tom Raines, since he didn't even have to pay his way into their virtual reality parlor."
Page 1

This is probably the longest audiobook in the entire world. No. I'm sure that's not true, but it sort of felt that way. There were about three or four different stories in this one book. Typically, I'd expect it to be multiple books - a huge series. But really, it's all stuck in this one book. Not in a bad way... just a long way :).

Tom Raines has nothing going for him. His dad is a gambler and they move from place to place - never having a home. His mom is dating some crazy guy who hates Tom. So he's stuck. He plays video games, goes to school online, and doesn't truly have any friends. Then one day he gets tagged for a secret operation. The government wants him - because he is good at video games.

I feel like this storyline is every guy's dream. They already want to play video games 24/7... what if you were part of a semi-secret government organization at the same time?! Perfect. Yep. Every dude's dream. There are things that Tom didn't anticipate - changes they'd make to him. But it's all worth it to become a Intrasolar combat fighter. He just has to get through the academy first.

I loved the backgrounds that were given to each of the characters - everyone had something very unique. I can almost imagine those sorts of people being involved in some government academy. And the personalities really make this story feel fun and realistic. This is sort of the perfect boy book. I'd probably recommend it to any teen boy who loves scifi stuff. It's not super sci-fi-y... so don't get scared off by that. But it's definitely got some of those characteristics.

You really do find yourself cheering for Tom to make it. He's even got some large corporations after him - and not in a good way. He makes a lot of mistakes, but you know he's going to make it. I think it's nice to have a hopeful story like that. It's not so teenage-angsty as a lot of the stuff I've been reading lately. This one felt like it had purpose and heart. You can tell by the way I finished it ;). No, I'm kidding. But I really did enjoy it enough to listen to all 14 hours of it.

Speaking of the audio portion - the reader was awesome. There are all sorts of accents in this book and I feel like he nailed them all. Most of the characters are male, so I know he probably had a hard time coming up with all of the different voices. Some were a little more obvious, but I think he did a really good job.

I will be definitely checking out the second book when it comes out this summer. I feel like this could turn into one of those great series for boys that we librarians are always looking for. Thanks for that! I'll definitely be recommending this one on.
Other Blog Reviews:

Justin's Book Blog
Annette's Book Spot
Recovering Potter Addict
One Librarian's Book Reviews
YA Novelties
Emily's Reading Room
Girl in the Woods Reviews
Young Adult Book Haven
Bewitched Bookworms
The Book Zone (For Boys)

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