Publisher's Note:  

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.


by S.J. Kincaid

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Overall Review:  

Consuming and arresting, S. J. Kincaid makes an auspicious debut in the enthralling young adult novel Insignia.  This is sci-fi that has it all:  compelling concept, artfully articulated and distinct characters to love and hate, ethical and moral conflicts, and high-adrenaline action and peril.  Unlike a lot of science fiction, this novel's premise holds together all the way to the end and the author gifts the reader with a true end; if Kincaid never writes another word, the reader can still close the cover satisfied.  Insignia is a  guaranteed guy-read that will appeal to anyone who likes their reads to sizzle and can function in a sleep-deprived state--because once you start reading, you won't want to stop.  

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  14 religious exclamations; 1 offenseive hand gesture.


Violence/Gore:  A character punches anothers; an extended classroom lesson discussing past and current war; a character receives a black eye (no details); a character beats a fist on wall until it bleeds; report of death of children by land mines; there is a battle by unmanned aircraft resulting in destruction of property; in an extended an intense scene a character is subjected to a procedure that is administered in a manner that is essentially torture and cause great pain.


There are many scenes, some extended, in the book where the action in video games or in simulation training is described.  No death of real humans occurs, but there are deaths of the simulated characters and blood is sometimes mentioned or described.  Some of the scenes include attacking a tank and bludgeoning a soldier (quick description); wolves hunting and bringing down a moose; historical battle scenes such as Troy; fantasy style video sword fighting.


Sex/Nudity:  Reference to a character's boyfriend having a wife; general reference to "humping"; some slightly agressive flirtatious behavior by one character;  a couple separate reference to "boobs"; in a character's fantasy another character's uniform "falls off" (no details);  passing, teasing reference in a simulation about female/male body parts and groping.

Mature Subject Matter:  

War; Politics; Ethics; Scientific Ethics/Experimentation; Genocide; Treason; Torture.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

An adult character is drunk and there are references to him being drunk in the past.  Adults drink and smoke a cigar.  A minor is offered a drink of Scotch, but declines.

Reviewed By Cindy
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