30 Apr 2013



A thrilling sci-fi adventure. An unforgettable hero.

Fourteen-year-old Tom Raines looks set to go the same way as his listless, gambling addict of a father, with no hope for the future - until one day everything changes.

Tom is recruited by the State to become a Combatant: one of an elite group of teen soldiers, chosen for their unique virtual reality skills, to fight World War III in space!

But is Tom's future really as safe as the army claims? Are there spies, and corruption, in their number?

And what happens when you question the rules?
..... Outer back copy.

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): New town, New casino - same old plan.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 54): "It's natural." Lieutenant Chang slanted him a dark gaze from almond-shaped eyes. "Your brain needs to adjust to the software. You'll have difficulty at first sorting through the influx of data. It will pass."

MY THOUGHTS: Totally intrigued by the idea of a book about another World War, this one to be fought not by soldiers but by virtual reality Combatants ..... in space, I was delighted to receive a copy of this to review. 

Aimed, in my mind, very much at the young male reader who is into gaming anyway, as a woman in her forties I'm sure I didn't fully appreciate much of the book but for what it's worth ..... 

OK, so very obviously a science-fiction read BUT overall I found Insignia (Book 1 in a trilogy) to be a school story ..... think of a futuristic Hogwarts (without Hermione) in which, instead of a wand, 'pupils' gain their prowess thanks to an implanted neural chip. 

Personally much more interested in the relationships developed between the characters and the fact that huge global corporations now have monopolies on the worlds basic commodities such as food and water, for me the combative element of the novel was definitely of secondary interest. 

Still, wonderful to see a book aimed at this audience (I'm sure most of whom will find it deserved more than the 2 stars that I awarded it), and so refreshing that it's told from a fourteen year old boys point of view, I only hope that they won't be put off by the length (446 pages) or the fact that the underlying corporate politics can be rather long-winded. 

Read and reviewed on behalf of NEWBOOKS magazine. I was merely asked for my honest opinion, no financial compensation was asked for nor given.
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Happy Okta said...

nice review
you describe it so well

Jean said...

Sounds like a knockoff of the Ender's Game series. Which was actually pretty good although I was not a youth/young adult male either. I suppose it may have helped that I'd been a trekkie when young. Maybe that stuff never really leaves you.

Jinky said...

A 2? This can wait then (I won it a long time ago but still haven't gotten to it). --Jean's comment about a knockoff sounds right. She's right about Ender Game being pretty good too.

Literary Feline said...

I am not sure this would be something I'd like, but it sounds perfect for my friend's son. He's really getting into reading, especially science fiction books.

Kelly said...

I like sci-fi, but I'm not sure this is the type I would enjoy. I appreciate the review, though.

Gina R said...

Enjoyed the review Tracy and despite the two stars granted, it sounds like you really did enjoy the read! Not certain on the war aspect myself, but definitely glad to see more titles aimed at male readers (though able to be read by one and all). It can be hard recommending titles to that age group sometimes...they are not always as open minded when it comes to reading something with a more "girly" flavor. Thanks for the fab share!

carol said...

I don't read much sci-fi anyway and this sounds like one I should just pass on.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I do enjoy sci-fi, but this might be better suited to some young cousins of mine more than me. I might have to recommend it to them!

Mama Zen said...

Middle school boys are definitely an underserved audience!

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

This is my first time hearing of this one. I wasn't expecting it to be so long- but my 14 year old nephew reads all the time and lots of the books are long, so hopefully that means other boys won't be turned off by the length.

Thanks for the review!

Karen said...

This is probably a book I would recommend to my nephew and read for myself if I (ever) catch up on all my other books.