Saturday, October 27, 2012

Batty About Books - Insignia by SJ Kincaid - Pt1

Welcome to the latest installment of 
Batty About Books! 

For the next 4 weeks 
we will tackle


by SJ Kincaid

(Katherine Tegen Books, 2012. 464p. $17.99. 9780062092991)

Insignia is about World War III where the government hires teens to fight the wars for them. Using their minds... I’m also re-reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline at the same time and my mind is protesting! Throw in my recent re-read of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and my past read of Epic by Conor Kostick and my head is starting to explode. I can see elements of all three of these novels in Insignia.  The humor of Ready Player One, the simulations that are part of Ender’s Game, and the type of gaming from Epic. Now, I understand that there are only so many stories to be told and as we delve deeper into the story, I’ll be on the lookout to see how Kincaid handles the familiar elements.  Will this be a book to bring to book club because it brings something new to the gaming table? Or will it just be one to recommend if there's nothing better? We shall see.

NOTE: This week we are doing things a little bit differently. Instead of two separate discussions - we did one LONG one! We decided to divide the post into pieces for each blog. Most are Maria's initial thoughts with my responses and then her rebuttal/response, then me again if needed. At Maria's Melange you'll find her overall book opinion as well as her thoughts on how females are being handled in Insignia and how well the "science" is pulled into the science fiction.

Insignia by SJ Kincaid - Part 1 1-116p.

Big ideas
Being someone: Tom comments that he would “give anything to be important” (49). I can see this idea resonating with the target audience. I wonder how much more he’ll find he has to give to fit into this world - what’s the catch and when will we discover the crisis that I’m sure is coming?
Kathy: I think not just the target audience will identify here.  Though, playing devil’s advocate, will saying it so bluntly actually turn the target audience off? Point well made. I made the same point in my review of Supernaturalist - where one character kept saying things like “this is what leaders have to face.” I’m not sure why it bugged me in that book but seemed more natural in this one. I’ll have to ponder that more. Kathy: Maybe because the characters are older, and so far, it’s not being overused? There should be some things left to the reader to decide, especially in a YA book. I’ll have to see how Kincaid proceeds with this. We want authors to feel their readers have some intelligence.  I had a super-hard time with Virals and Seizure by Kathy Reichs. She seemed to want to dumb things down for her young adult readers. I haven’t read any of her work for adults, though, so maybe that’s just how she writes.  Have you read Virals?

Well, we know that something involving his father and Eliot Ramirez has to come up again. I feel like we’ve been fed the perfect setup between these two. Which is my major beef with the book so far. I feel like Tom did when he came to Pentagonal Squire, like I’m being manipulated. I’m being told too much information and not being left to figure anything out. Okay - I just had a “revelation” (maybe?) I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me before, duh me. Blackburn’s mental illness stems from having the processor. His paranoia was a major symptom, right? Maybe dad was more involved than we know? Though you’d think THAT would have come up when Tom was being recruited.... so maybe I’m wrong. Kathy: OOOHH!! I actually just said that out loud! That would be an AWESOME twist.  I like your thinking - maybe dad also has some of what Yuri has and he can only access so much info. Could be why he drinks and gambles...

Warfare - is it better to fight through proxies? No one gets hurt, right? I can feel the coming storm as the programming instructor runs them through the drills about defending their mental processors from hackers and viruses...
Kathy: Add that to Falmouth’s earlier discussion of the four reasons offshore war is better and we can smell the conflicts coming later. Also, the names of companies - Nobind and Stronghold - have to also come into play later. I smell author agenda. Which I don’t mind, as long as the story isn’t sacrificed for the message. Absolutely. This could be handled well or it could become one long soapbox. With the current political climate, I’m curious about the way the corporate entities are handled.

Overall Impressions
I’m having a hard time enjoying this book right now. I think it’s a due to reading Ready Player One right now. There are so many similarities, I’m finding myself disappointed in Insignia. I hope that as I read on, I can put those thoughts aside and just enjoy this book. Hmm.  I wonder if that is why I’m able to enjoy this one so much? I have Ready Player One on my list, but haven’t gotten to it yet. I’d love to hear what Brian has to say about the book (I tweeted him because I thought he’d enjoy it, and he confirmed that he loves it!) Kathy: His review is one of the reasons I wanted to read it. I would have happily skipped it since I’d read my share of game-based stories to last me a while! Also, I loved Ready Player One and am reading it again for the Level Up Book Club game.  Matthew is following the type of challenges Wade faced in that book, even if his are different. I’m still loving it and could easily devour it!

On Maria's blog we also discuss MG vs YA science fiction and how note taking changes with the books you read. One thing I point out is a blog post on SLJ's Heavy Medal that discusses emotional vs. Intelligence type reads. It will be well worth your time to read that after you finish at Maria's Melange! Knowing what type of books you prefer can help you put aside your biases, or at least recognize them!

Come back next week as we dive deeper into Insignia by SJ Kincaid.

1 comment:

  1. I did enjoy this one, but I didn't think about it too hard. It won't appeal to all of my readers, but I will buy a copy for the hard core Ender's Game andDouglas Adams fans.


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