Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 2572
In a World Where Companies Wage War in Space, What is Life like for the Teens being Trained to Fight
The world is in the midst of World War III, a war fought not on Earth, but in space and for private rather than public interests. Companies sponsor Combatants, teenagers that are the equivalent of fighter pilots or drone operators, who control the spaceships from Earth.

In this world, Tom Raines is nothing. A short, pimple-faced teen who cons people at games in all the little, run down casinos that his gambling-addicted dad makes his home.

So, when the government sees Tom’s gaming prowess and asks him to go to the Pentagonal Spire, where he will be trained to become a combatant, he agrees with the hope of becoming important, something that he never has been.

Tom is implanted with a neural processor, from here on referred to as Brain Computer, (which he knew nothing about till after he arrived) and quickly joins the other trainees.

We are quickly introduced to a handful of quirky characters. From Wyatt, the brilliant but quiet girl who lacks any sort of social ability, to Yuri, the possible Russian spy who’s as nice as can be but with a Brain Computer that is intentionally bugged so he can’t remember any military secrets.

The characters aren’t the most original or deep, to the exception of Tom and possibly Blackburn, one of the teachers. What they lack in depth, they make up for in laughs and the simple enjoyment they offer.

Insignia’s plot revolves around Tom’s struggles and triumphs with his teachers, classmates, and those that want to use him because of his position as a trainee. I couldn’t identify any single struggle or end goal that Tom was working towards. Instead, several struggles were woven in, overlapping each other. Without a central goal, no king to kill or dog to find, it became a series of antagonists that each had their moments, but none took the role of super-terrible-evil-bad-guy-who-wants-to-ruin-your-life that Tom could defeat. Due to how the antagonists are introduced throughout the book, I can’t say anything more without spoiling it, but rest assured that the lack of a goal isn’t something that detracted from the book so much as it is something that would have improved the book for me personally...

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