I like to think of myself as computer savvy, but I am far from a tech head. I leave that to my husband who is a whiz at all things technology. However, this does not mean that I cannot get my geek on with the best of them. I found out how much I loved the scifi potential of technology, and the dangers that it could possess, when I saw a little movie back in 1999 called The Matrix. I pretty much had Neo’s reaction when I finished reading Insignia. “Whoa.”
Tom Raines is an expert gamer and a con artist. He has to be. Traveling from casino to casino with his dad, a perennial drunk and gambler, Tom is often his and Neil’s only chance for a warm place to sleep, a meal on the table. Unlike the Wachowski brothers’ film, people aren’t unwittingly living in a computer world in Kincaid’s Insignia. Instead, this is how wars are fought, WWIII to be precise. Because of Tom’s prowess in the VR (virtual reality) parlors, he is recruited to join the Intrasolar Forces at the Pentagonal Spire in Washington D.C. If he is successful in his training, he may get to be a major player in the war fought virtually in space.
Training consists first of the implantation of a neural processor, a computer in the brain. From there, Tom and his fellow plebes can plug into a port and experience a virtual reality so close to the actual thing that when you are injured in a training simulation, you’d swear the injury was real, the pain was real, until you unplug to find that you are intact. Trainees can upload required information to give them the necessary skills and intelligence for intrasolar battle, but they can also be manipulated with viruses and firewall leaks.
When Tom finds his ultimate adversary in an enemy combatant, he also finds that he may possess an ability with his neural processor that no one else has, something that could make him more powerful than he imagined. The question is, how far will Tom go to use his abilities to get what he wants?
Insignia is pure adrenaline, tech geek heaven, and serious fun. While Kincaid hits on the important aspects of the morality of war and the consequences when loyalty and trust are broken, she also brings on the humor. The laugh-out-loud scenes are brilliantly done, and they punctuate the tension extremely well. You do not have to know anything about computers to enjoy this book, by the way. Tom, Vik, Wyatt, and Yuri will make sure you enjoy the ride no matter what your technological abilities may be. While the tech plays a role, the story is in the characters as well.
I can’t wait for book two. Ok. I guess I have to since Insignia is brand new, but S.J. Kincaid has a fantastic trilogy in the making!