Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Kincaid's debut novel, an ambitious, high-concept mÃ©lange of the teen hacker and teen spy genres (with some gaming elements included, too), occasionally struggles under its own weight, but still provides a fast-paced and exciting tale. Fourteen-year-old Tom Raines skips his virtual school, choosing instead to play VR games online and hustle other gamers. When one game turns out to be an audition for a military program, he ends up working for the Pentagonal Spire, with a computer chip embedded in his head, and hopes that he can one day become one of the elite students who guide unmanned drones in the ongoing war against the Russo-Chinese Alliance. Kincaid tosses a lot into her book Ã¢Â€Â¨romance, cyberpunk tropes, evil corporations, military academy subplots, a 'Who's the traitor?' story line, and goofy humor (a subplot in which one student, Yuri, has been programmed to process classified information incorrectly is particularly over-the-top). It's too much, and leads to a too-long novel, but the strong action and spy sequences keep the core story entertaining. Ages 13 up. Agent: David Dunton, Harvey Klinger. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Insignia expertly combines humor with a disarming and highly realistic view of the future. The characters are real, funny, and memorable. You won't be able to put this book down." Veronica Roth, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Divergent and Insurgent
"Hip, high-tech, and hilarious, Insignia made my heart soar and left me with impossible-to-shake questions about technology, reality, and war." Rae Carson, author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns
"An unlikely teen is selected to attend Hogwarts-at-the-Pentagon. With action, real humor and a likable, complex protagonist, this fast-moving, satisfying adventure also provides some food for thought." Kirkus Reviews
"Kincaid's debut novel, an ambitious, high-concept mélange of the teen hacker and teen spy genres provides a fast-paced and exciting tale." Publishers Weekly
expertly combines humor with a disarming and highly realistic view of the future. The characters are real, funny, and memorable. You won't be able to put this book down."—Veronica Roth, #1 New York Times
bestselling author of Divergent
The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S. J. Kincaid's fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy perfect for fans of Ender's Game.
The planet's natural resources are almost gone, and war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning. The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn't seem like a hero. He's a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.
As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom's life completely changes. Suddenly, he's someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there's a price to pay. . . .
About the Author
S. J. Kincaid was born in Alabama, grew up in California, and attended high school in New Hampshire. She also interned for a politician in Washington, DC, and received degrees from universities in Illinois and Ohio, but it was while living beside a haunted graveyard in Edinburgh, Scotland, that she realized she wanted to be a writer. Several years, several manuscripts, and several jobs later, Ms. Kincaid now lives in California, and Catalyst is the conclusion to the Insignia trilogy.