Insignia

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Review

What if playing computer games could help you save the world? Young gamers will delight in the premise of this futuristic adventure, the first in a trilogy by SJ Kinkaid.

Tom Raines dreams of one day being important, but seems destined to live his life as a drifter and nobody, following his dad, an unlucky gambler, from casino to casino. The only thing he’s good at is gaming - his combination of skill, luck and ability to hustle is sometimes all that keeps a roof over their heads.  But Tom’s life is about to change dramatically. Unbeknown to him, someone, somewhere has been watching, and has spotted his gaming talent. Tom is offered the unthinkable – the chance to join the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy where he will one day go on to become part of the Intrasolar Forces, leading his country to victory in a virtual World War Three. Life at the Spire offers everything Tom has ever dreamed of – but can he rise to the challenge?

Blending hi-tech science fiction with all the familiar dilemmas of school life, Insignia is an original and entertaining debut novel. SJ Kinkaid rises to the challenge of writing about gaming in an engaging way, asking plenty of timely and thought-provoking questions about the role technology plays in our lives. However, this is ultimately a funny and very readable story about friendship which will particularly appeal to boys: the rebellious but good-hearted outsider Tom makes for an appealing hero.

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