28 July 2012


By S.J. Kincaid

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? (From Amazon)

Why did I read this book again?

I saw an endorsement for this book on Molly O’Neill’s blog.  She’s the editor, and said that the friendship of the characters in this book kept her laughing and happy all the way through the book (I’m paraphrasing, and probably getting some of it wrong). So I got on Amazon and read the blurb above and went and bought the book.  Science fiction and great characters?  Yes please.

5 out of 5


So Molly O’Neill raved about the characters, and I’d have to say that she wasn’t exaggerating.  Tom is an adorable underdog that starts out looking like the quintessential 14 year old boy—scrawny and  plastered with acne.  The friends he makes at the Spire are not only hilarious, but loyal.  If you want me to love a book, write about loyal friends.  I didn’t think the adults took nearly as active of a roll as they really would have (you know, if this wasn’t a book and all that), and a few of them fell a little flat, but that’s not who the story is about.

4 out of 5

Did I care what happened?

Yes.  Tom presents an interesting view on life, after having come from a drifter childhood into the coolest gaming center in the country.   Like I said, the characters were loyal and  all had me hoping everything turned out okay.

4 out of 5

Plot Holes

Nothing big here.  To finish the thought I had above, these kids are not technically military, but they are run by the military, and I felt like they were in Hogwarts instead of what should be the most secure location on the planet—trouncing around, getting in trouble and cursing one another, just without the magic wands.  So the adults don’t take much of a roll, which is okay in an YA book, but I felt they should have at least had some presence.

4 out of 5

How many times did I yawn?

There was one section that I thought was okay for the plot, but it drug the pacing down, and never really came to the fruition I was hoping it would.  The whole situation was extremely serious, but didn’t play much of a roll later, and it could have.

4 out of 5

Cool Factor

Uh, kids controlling ships in space with a computer that the military put in their brains, fighting for the rights of corporations on the other planets in the solar system…cool.  Making other kids act like chickens with computer viruses…awesome.  And their training program for physical fitness cracked me up.

4 out of 5

The End

Good and bad.  Everything wrapped up nicely, but it didn’t feel quite deserved or real.  The climax worked, but the very last few chapters…maybe they dragged a bit.  I’m not totally sure—I can’t quite put my finger on it.  Still, that doesn’t keep me from recommending this book if you like YA sci-fi that’s fun and adventure filled.

4 out of 5

Overall Enjoyment

In general I really liked this book!  It made me laugh out loud a few times, and even though the end didn’t grip me, I was totally annoyed that my car was ready when I only had about 5 pages to go.  Since when can Discount Tire put new tires on in less than 30 minutes.  Why do you think I brought the book?

Sorry, back to the story.  Great technology, and I liked that the political system was all about business, not governments.  Very interesting, but not too in your face.

A sort of Ender’s Game at Hogwarts with computer virus duels.  Take that!

5 out of 5


That's a Brown Belt!

1 comment:

Anthony Dutson said...

That one looks pretty good. I may actually have to join Audible to get it (as far as I can tell, the audiobook is only available through Audible).

Some of the best books are like that.