Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: July 10, 2012
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?
I've found myself baffled by the fact that I didn't enjoy this. It's everything I enjoy: semi-boy-targeted, dystopia and scifi. Normally any book with that description would have me raving about it. But this one just either had too much tech stuff or the pacing was too slow. I found myself disliking interactions, finding cliches, and wishing that the narration had been first person. I don't think it brings anything new to the picture or the YA science fiction scene. Not like books such as Lord of the Flies, Ender's Game and The Maze Runner do.
Sometimes, it also has a lot to do with what you read before, and what's happening in your life. My work is very computerized and I had just finished another scifi tech-related book called Don't Turn Around, which I had also disliked. So that might have a lot to do with it. I also found the narration to be a tad too infantile for what I'm accustomed to. Maybe targeted as middle-grade it would be a hit.
Either way, I do think boys and science fiction readers might be very entertained by this story.