Source: Won from EpicReads.com
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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 Three. 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?
Tom, the main character, is simply awesome. He is such a boy--from his obsession with video games and pretty girls to his hilarious interactions with his friends. He's got a fiery temper and a fierce sense of loyalty that make him a force to be reckoned with. He embraces his chance with the military as his first shot at some normalcy in his life after years of restless movement and uncertainty with his father, but he's determined not to let them change him (other than getting rid of his acne and making him taller--that he'll take). There's just something about Tom that makes him really stand out--makes him so very likeable. I think that out of the YA novels with male POVs that I've read lately, Tom was probably my favorite.
SJ Kincaid took space travel, government conspiracy, and corporate control and rolled them into a world that has a lot of depth. The details are woven into the story so that you know absolutely everything you need to about this world and the ways that society has evolved to get there, but it never felt like an info-dump situation to me. I was constantly learning and exploring and following along with the characters on their action-packed adventures.
I'm not normally a huge fan of "techie" science fiction, but Insignia was a wild ride of a book that I enjoyed the whole way through. Ms. Kincaid turned a very science-y science fiction novel into a story that will entice both the avid sci-fi readers and the more reluctant sci-fi readers, such as myself. The story weaves together a world of action and adventure with timeless themes of friendship, family, and loyalty. This is one book that I'm hoping to find the budget to put in my library this fall in hopes of enticing some of my more reluctant male readers because I really think this book has the potential to do just that.