The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S.J. Kincaid’s fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy. The planet’s natural resources are almost gone, and the 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…
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is my favorite science fiction novel, closely followed by Alistair Reynold’s HOUSE OF SUNS. I love those two books, and I can’t wait to read my recently purchased copy of Orson Scott Card’s PATHFINDER series.
I just want to start out by saying that if more YA pure science fiction was written like this, then ENDER’s GAME and HOUSE OF SUNS would have more competition in my mind. This book was gritty, riveting, entertaining and completely unpredictable. That, I appreciate. Thank you very much, S.J. Kincaid.
The beginning was a little slow for me. I’ve definitely seen better first sentences than “New town, new casino–same old plan.” But then again, I’ve definitely seen worse. And once you start getting into the action, the book moves pretty quickly from there.
Not only that, but S.J. Kincaid has the same ability of Cinda Williams Chima, Cassandra Clare and Rick Riordan, as well as many other talented authors. The ability to slip something funny, amusing and–at the very least, brings a smile to my face. I call it good dialog. Something like this:
“He likes her.”
“Yuri, no!” Vik said.
Yuri turned redder, confirming it.
“Yuri, come on, man,” Tom cried.
Yuri gave a helpless shrug. “Divisions cannot divide human hearts.”
“Oh God,” Vik cried, clapping hands over his ears. “He’s even spouting cheesy lines now. Make him stop, Tom!”
“I can’t!” Tom told him. “My ears… They’re bleeding. Bleeding!”
“It’s a brain hemorrhage! He’s murdered us!” Vik said.
“Murderer!” Tom cried, fake collapsing onto the ground.
Yuri shook his head. “This is not very mature.”
Needless to say, I was impressed by this book. The topic reminded me a lot of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. Even more so than any book I’ve read so far. And I thought it was cool. Some books I feel like one author just cheated off another author in a foolish attempt to recreate some of the best books known to mankind, but this book wasn’t like that. It felt real, it’s own. And to be able to put your own spin on a really cool topic is a talent.
I thought the way that S.J. Kincaid set up the Pentagonal Spire was really interesting, in a lot of ways. The classes and exercises the kids there went through were fun to read about and it didn’t take much for me to be entertained by this story. It felt effortless. And the way that everything could be transferred over to your brain? Wow. That was chilling and freaky, but really brought the elements of iBoy and M.T. Anderson’s FEED to this story. That was impressive, and I liked seeing all of these themes coming together.
Tom? Tom was great. Not my favorite narrator ever, and not as fun as Titus or Wade, or maybe even the Tom in iBoy, but he was a fun character. I really liked his voice and he was a funny person to listen to. Not only that, but he was realistic. Some guys aren’t even written like guys, and that really makes me rage. It’s annoying and it throws off the story. But Tom, he was a really great brand of fun, funny, cool, uncool and guy. If that makes sense…
This book was simple, blunt and honest. It was in a word: amazing. Although I think the second book is not nearly as impressive, the series is pretty good overall. I consider this a win for S.J. Kincaid and I cannot wait for the third book. 4.5 stars.
pg count for the hardback: 446