Author: S. J. Kincaid
Release Date: Available
Insignia by S. J. Kincaid is, simply, a great read. The plot is set at some point in the future in a time when drone warfare has gone to the extreme. War has moved to space, with fighting being only among machines; there are no longer any human combatants involved. People don’t use consoles and control panels to pilot these advanced fighting machines like today. Instead, they use their minds. Specifically, an advanced computer processor is inserted into their minds, making them instantly super-smart, and allowing them to interface with the fighting machines. These implants are too disruptive to adult brains, which are no longer developing. Thus, teenagers are found to be the perfect candidates for the combatant program, mature enough to handle the stress, and young enough to recover.
This leads us to the main character, a teen with a very troubled life, who happens to be an expert at virtual reality simulations (video games essentially). He is recruited into the military, and enlisted in an advanced military training center, in the Pentagonal spire (new United States military headquarters, built in the center of the old Pentagon). The rest of the story chronicles the new life he lives, his troubles, from inside and outside the school, and finally climaxes with an epic duel with the ultimate opponent.
The author of this story did a superb job for a first book. The writing was polished and kept me up past midnight reading it. I found the plot to be engrossing, with many twists and turns keeping me on the edge of my seat. I saw some similarities to another excellent book, Ender’s Game, in that children were recruited into the military as strategists and virtual pilots. I thought it was different enough that it stood by itself and did very well too. I also felt like I could relate to the main character of this book more, as he was pretty much an “average Joe” before he joined the military, and one with difficulties and problems at that. I thought I saw a boy-meets-girl plot shaping up, when the main character was encouraged to enlist by a pretty young woman, but was pleasantly surprised when they did not interact further, and actually developed slightly rocky relations. Overall, this book was superb in most, if not all respects. I really did stay up to 2:00 am reading this, and I think I’ve got a cold now because of it (WARNING: this book is hazardous for your health).
Review by Adam
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