Batty about Insignia - Finale!

Today my "Batty About Books" buddy and I discuss the end of:

Insignia, by SJ Kincaid. 

As always, we tried to keep spoilers to a minimum, but there are some in there. If you'd like to chat along, feel free to add your thoughts to the comments! 

My thoughts are in purple with Kathy's in blue. Don't forget to check out her blog - The Brain Lair - for her thoughts with my responses. 

Catch up with our other Insignia posts, too!

First, I’d like to mention that a fellow IMWAYR poster had a son who was “book stuck”. He started reading Insignia and got completely hooked. I think that’s awesome. Regardless of how we feel about the individual events, or overall plotline, or implausibility of certain scenes, I hope those of you reading our discussion will remember that our opinions are just that - our opinions.
I read and loved that post! The pictures she posted of how involved in the reading he was were awesome! I know, right? So incredibly adorable! Here is the link to her blog post with the pictures.

I also had one small problem this week. I took notes on a notecard while reading this section. The notecard has since disappeared. Chalk one up to going back to using Evernote as I read. *sighs* I’ll just have to flip through and try to recreate my thoughts.
I took notes but they didn’t help. I really wanted to talk about the book as a whole instead of just this final part.  Thanks for giving me the extra time! This is about processing and discussing the books - not about blogging schedules! :)

Ch-ch-ch- Changes!

Blackburn - Darn it all!
   I mean, I know he is supposed to suffer from mental instability due to the neural processors. But yikes! I’m still trying to decide how I feel about him. He was a jerk at the beginning of the book. His humiliation of the characters (especially Tom) in the class was so disturbing. Yet when he offered Wyatt a chance to do some real learning that matched her talents, I thought that maybe I had misjudged him. I guess my initial impressions were closer to the truth. He’s dangerous and unstable. Very creepy.
I know. I know! I was so happy that he wanted to help the students learn programming but I didn’t like the way he treated Tom. I kept hoping the “helping” part would overcome but I was sorely disappointed! I talk about this too.

Slightly disappointing:
   The reveal on “Roanoake” wasn’t nearly as cool as I had hoped. I thought there would be some tie in to the actual colony. I wonder why Kincaid chose that name, if it didn’t have any historical reference. Or did I miss an allusion along the way?
No you didn’t miss anything.  I even went back and read more about Roanoke to see if I could make a connection. But, no. It was devastating though. I would have liked Blackburn to have talked to Tom and Wyatt about instead of completely turning on them. I guess we can hope we’ll get something like this in the rest of the series.

Tom’s choices:
    I was definitely upset with Tom when he made his choice to intrude on Medusa’s privacy. Yes, I know that she also did it to him, but it seemed to underhanded. Do I think this was realistic? Yes, I do. I think his desperation was understandable. I do, however, remember stopping and writing down, “Oh, Tom, NO!” I thought the reveal about Medusa was interesting. I wasn’t expecting it.
So sad. I know he wanted to save himself and he used the only weapon he had. It still hurt. I’m not sure why Medusa’s reveal had to be that way though. I couldn’t get behind it. Kincaid had warned us but I still didn’t like it. What happens to them now? They can never go back.

Without too many spoilers, I was pleased at how the two of them worked things out. I am still intrigued by Medusa, and I want to know more about her (and Wyatt - always Wyatt).

Lingering questions:
   “Mordred” - He mentioned that this was what he wanted as a call sign (Thanks for reminding me of that in the last chat). The history of Mordred - as a betrayer and catalyst of destruction - makes me wonder about what may be coming in the next book. I mean, I see how it fits now, but I wonder why he chose that so early in the story. I don’t think he saw himself that way in the beginning.
Hm.  Actually I think Medusa suggested it? I would have to recheck that, but it is curious. Tom is not known for knowing history, Vik teases him about it often, so maybe he picked it to please Medusa. Darn it all! I had to give the book back (it was already overdue) or I would totally go back to this section to look for this piece. It would be a very different thing if SHE suggested it.

    Tom’s dad. I’m still wondering about his father’s history. I wish we’d gotten more about him, and I feel like there is more of a story here than we’ve heard so far. Or maybe that's just me reading into his behavior too much, or being intrigued by one of the adults in the series? I wonder if teens reading this book would be as interested in his character. Or maybe we’re being set up to learn more in book 2?
I mention this too! Is he one of the other adults who survived like Blackburn? Is he so upset because he knows what is happening? I thought we’d see more of him than we did at the end. He leaves a big impression for such a small part. I think students will like him because he obviously cares for Tom. If Tom is on a hero’s journey he’s missing his wise mentor. Could Neil be him? I like how you tied into the hero’s journey in your post. Yes, he definitely is missing the mentor figure so far..

Overall Impressions:
I found Insignia to be highly enjoyable. The pacing was sometimes not as tight as I would have liked, but overall there was a lot of action and an intriguing peek into the future that might be ahead of us. Corporations keep growing, and becoming more and more powerful. The idea of having those corporations gain control of the entire planet - and compete with one another on a warfare type level - seems plausible.
Scary when you think of all the mergers happening! Just heard that HarperCollins and Simon and Schuster may also join forces like Random House and Penguin did! I also remember when the telephone companies had a monopoly. We don’t seem to be fighting against companies combining anymore like we did back then.

I did like the action in this one.  I like that it was different sorts of action - the simulations, the VR, the calisthenics, the fight against Dalton and his cronies and that it required intelligence.  I think students will really enjoy this one.

The interactions of the quartet of friends - Tom, Wyatt, Vikram and Yuri - resonated with me, reminding me of my own friends in teenage years. Sometimes we understood one another well, sometimes we had painful misunderstandings, but we always tried to stick together and help each other out.
I talk about the friends.  I really loved Wyatt and Vik but not sure about Yuri’s appearances.  He was always supportive, even before his program change.  But, he has to miss out on things and I don’t understand why!!! I like him!

The things that bothered me about the story - the high level of focus on appearances and the way that the characters tried to humiliated one another - also seemed true to the age group. I may not like that they act that way, but I do remember (vaguely) my own teenage years. I know we chatted once briefly about author responsibility. Is it an author’s job to accurately portray the behavior of teens - the good and the bad - or is it her job to try to show the way we wish they would be? Both? I still don’t know the answer to that. I do know that I personally feel better when there is some redemption. I think the humiliation could have been handled better. I don’t think ALL teens try to get the upper hand by humiliating others so it would have been nice to have some sort of balance. Or at least let us see how that affected the person being humiliated. Then we could draw our own conclusions.  I didn’t see that part of the story. The characters just moved on.

This was a science fiction novel with limited violence, and flirtation but no sexual content. I hope that the series continues the same way. Nothing bugs me more than having a first book be appropriate in content, only to have the series dip into more mature content in future books.
Can you say Twilight Saga?  I mean, once you get past the 100+ year old man dating the 18 year old girl,  and the control issues, and Bella not having a life outside of Edward,  it was clean and mostly nonviolent.  Then book 4 happened. Ruined the series for me. This also happened in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book 4. Sigh. ::crossesfingers::  Yes, so true. I think this is a major problem in the “borderline YA” age range. For the first kids to read the series it’s probably not as big of a problem. The books come out over several years, so the kids have grown. But once all the books are out and the 11-12 year olds just blow through them at one sitting? That’s a problem.

I may not put the sequel on the top of my “to read” pile (unless I hear that the focus on Wyatt increases and that we’ll get more of Medusa’s perspective), but I do plan to read it. The target audience - middle and high schoolers, though? I think they will love it.
I will read it too. Target audience - due to the lack of sex and language this is a great book for middle schoolers. Especially since Kincaid pretty much spells most things out.  What is the dividing line between a Middle Grades book and a Young Adult book outside of age group? I know we’ve discussed this before, too. I’ve heard it said that middle grades books have characters who are less introspective (in addition to possibly some sex and language). But I know I have students who are mature enough for the introspective aspect of YA but aren’t ready to handle the other mature content. It’s so hard to find books for them!


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