Not as many books to report on this week (it helps that it's only been a week in between)
S. J. Kincaid, Insignia. My sister convinced me to buy this for my Kindle (it was only 2.99--still is!) by saying it was a cross between Ender's Game and Percy Jackson. I thought that was a pretty fair assessment of the tone. Needless to say, I really enjoyed this book, even though generally, sci-fi isn't my thing. Especially not military sci-fi.
The story follows Tom Raines, a 14-year-old undersized boy with bad acne, who's missed so much online school (because his father, a compulsive gambler, doesn't stay in one place long) that his teacher has noticed and is threatening to sic social services on him. Then, while fighting a virtual battle in a gaming room, Tom attracts the notice of a military commander.
The thing is, Tom lives in a world where war is perpetually being fought, but it's no longer a war on national lines (although there's a nominal Indo-American alliance), but on company lines. Giant mega-corps use patriotism to help finance their wars, but the wars are fought in space, using machines. There's no loss of life. The face of the war effort is a group of young, elite fighters, who manipulate the war machines in virtual space. The fighters have to be young, because the adult brain (less flexible) rejects the neural processors that allow them to wield machines.
The military commander gives Tom the option to transform his life, to become one of these fighting machines. Despite his father's skepticism, Tom can't resist the potential to become someone important. He agrees, and finds himself training in the Pentagon's spire. There, he becomes obsessed with Medusa, the code name for the enemy's premier fighter. He wants nothing more than to face her and bring her down (he's pretty sure Medusa is a she).
It's hard to summarize the book without revealing too much, but I loved the school-like environment where Tom trains and makes the first friends of his life. I loved the way Tom stands up for himself (at serious cost), and his unexpected connection with Medusa. I can't wait for the rest of the trilogy to come out.
I also read Rachael Anderson, The Reluctant Bachelorette (on Kindle), because it was cheap and when I read the sample it seemed interesting enough, and clean. It also had mostly 4-5 star reviews.The story was decent (and, as I said, a clean romance, which can be hard to find). The premise was a little far-fetched--that a small town is going to make enough money to finance a desperately needed farmer's market by hosting a bachelorette style show online. The main character, Taycee Emerson, gets conned by her best friend into being the said bachelorette. She doesn't really want to do it, but she'll do it for the town. Then, when her former crush, Luke, gets roped in as well, she tries to sabotage the show so that Luke will get kicked off, only to discover that maybe Luke is the one she really wants. I thought the writing was solid, but I got annoyed with Taycee, particularly towards the end, for her self-sabotaging actions.