I was exploring
Scribd in all its audiobook glory because I've really been in the
mood for action adventure YA. When I heard Lincoln Hoppe's
performance it instantly grabbed my ear, he has this great laid back teen voice and I jut wanted to hear more.
I knew nothing about
Insignia going in and it took me a while to center myself. The book takes place
in a future much like today, except virtual reality is common place for things like gaming and schooling. There is also a war brewing that is fought in the final frontier. . . space, with mechanized drones controlled on earth by teen combatants who train for the war in the Pentagonal Spire.
Okay, so maybe it's not a future much like today.
I guess a way to
pitch this is how side character Eliot Ramierz, the enigmatic public face of the teen combatants puts it, "I'm just a kid who likes to play with robots."
I haven't read Ender's Game but I'm going to guess this book is in a similar vein. Now I wanted to think this book was about kids being good a video games participating in a war (and the reason only kids can do this was kind of a necessary evil) but it's not. It focuses more on the training and schooling side.
Enter Tom Raines, a self conscious teenaged boy living
motel to motel with his gambling father. More than anything he wants to be
somebody. As you do. His chance comes when he is chosen to train at the Pentagonal Spire to (one day) become a combatant.
So, Tom is taken to
the Pentagonal Spire (I think this name is awesome and yes it is a spire sticking out of The Pentagon!!!). He
finds himself in a new environment where he meets a group of friends, attends different classes, has a teacher who has it out for him, gets separated into a division and--Harry Potter
It's Harry Potter
This book is like
futuristic space-fighting Harry Potter. Like I was really thinking this the more I read. Down to him having a smart female friend who gets him out of trouble. I mean at the end of the book they go home for break.
I also picked up on a lot of spoon feeding in this book. It was like every classroom scene was nothing but exposition about the world. Even though Tom comes in the middle of the school year, every class explains some integral part of the world.
The more I got into this book the more it started to come apart. The teens in The Spire are implanted with neural processors so they can do the space-fighting and this is not public knowledge. But it's also explained that not all the kids will become combatants and some will take other government jobs. But why ? Why bring in a bunch of kids and implant things in their brains, if there is no guarantee they will fight ? It seems like waste of time.
Despite all of the nitpicking, I found this book to be enjoyable. Yes, there were times when I was frustrated
with the choices the characters made but that's because they are 14-years-old. Towards the end I started to get what Kincaid was doing here. She sets up a theme about looks and trust that really comes together in the end.
I'm trying to fill the Sci-Fi and Fantasy gap in my reading and this book was a nice push-off point for me. It had some science tech-y stuff but it wasn't too over the top. I'd suggest this to a younger YA reader who enjoys the boarding school format but wants a little action.