Insignia

S J Kincaid, Author
S.J. Kincaid. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-209299-1
Reviewed on: 06/11/2012
Release date: 07/01/2012
Kincaid's debut novel, an ambitious, high-concept mélange 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—
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)
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