Hello my fellow foreign English speaker!
This is the first English fiction review article on this blog, and so it happens that it’s a sci-fi adventure book with a brand new concept I’d never EVER heard of before!
This is the Right Book 4 U if…
… you’re a foreign English speaker wanting to start reading English fiction. This would make a perfect first English fiction book for you, and even though you might have to look up certain words on a dictionary website or thesaurus, by and large it’s written using plain language.
… you’re a sci-fi fan. Concepts described in this novel are quite unique, and you’ll find yourself intrigued – especially in the first part of the novel.
… you’re a gamer. The main character in this book is a teenage boy named Tom and he’s brilliant at playing games. If you share his passion for gaming, this might be the only book you’ll actually ever want to read!
… you like conspiracy theories. Do you believe in Illuminati and the New World Order (NOW)? Then you’ll find this particular novel to your liking because it depicts a world governed by gigantic corporations forcing people to buy their products and services while the political scene is dominated by a war waged in the outer space between the two main blocks of countries – Indo-American and Russo-Chinese.
Main Plot in INSIGNIA
I’ve been reading dystopian fiction (set in post-apocalyptic future) lately, and quite honestly – I expected this book to be quite similar in the sense that it’s set in the future, and the world is ruled by a government maintaining a very close grip on the citizens and trying to control them in all possible ways (which is so subliminal that people don’t really realize what’s going on!)
There is, however, one main difference between ‘Insignia’ and your typical dystopian novel such as ‘The Hunger Games’ or ‘The Maze Runner’ – the world hasn’t plunged into a state of anarchy with only small pockets of close knit communities maintaining law and order.
‘Insignia’ portrays a world having developed in terms of technology for about a hundred years from now with no major hindrances, so things like virtual reality is a common thing for gamers, and it goes without saying it’s so advanced that you can experience it almost like the real world.
Tom, the main character, is a fourteen year old kid and he’s really, really good at playing games. In fact, he’s so good that eventually he gets approached by a U.S. Military Marshal and he gets an offer that is quite hard to refuse.
Now, tell me – would you refuse getting a computer processor implanted into your brain which would make you into a super-human? All you’d have to do is live in the Pentagon along with a bunch of other kids, download all the necessary information via a cable plugged into your head just like guys in ‘The Matrix’, and in exchange for that you’d get the chance to experiencing the most advanced level of virtual reality where you feel JUST LIKE in the real world?
Well, me or you would probably refuse the offer, but then again – we’re not in Tom’s position.
You see – he was talked into it by a mesmerizing creature called Heather, and she knew exactly what levers have to be pushed in order to make the offer irresistible for Tom. She simply felt that above anything else, Tom wanted to feel IMPORTANT. And who can blame him? He’s just a skinny fourteen year old with an acne-covered face forced to play games in game parlors for money in order to pay for a night’s accommodation for himself and his alcoholic father!
Long story short, Tom joins the secret military group of teenagers with a prospect of becoming one of the elite virtual fighters who get to operate remote warships in the space and fight the Russo-Chinese alliance.
There are plenty of scenes taking place in the virtual reality environment.
There’s a love story as well.
And there are loads of really funny and engaging moments created around the fact that boys and girls living in the Pentagon have computers quite literally hooked into their brain which allows them to be infected by viruses, for example. But I’m not going to spoil the reading experience for you, my dear friend foreigner, by revealing more information on the plot of the novel ‘Insignia’.
You’ll have to do the hard work yourself!
Get the book – buy it online, in your local bookstore, or rent it in your local library – and see for yourself how entertaining it is!
Are you worried you won’t be able to read it because of lack of English vocabulary? Then read this article: How To Achieve Fluent English Reading Knowing Only 70 – 80 % of Vocabulary!
Specific Vocabulary Learned While Reading ‘Insignia’
To lament – to express sorrow or regret. I hadn’t come across this word in any of the previously read English fiction books, and believe me – I’ve read more than just a few over the years!
Culling – I came across this word as part of a highly specific term ‘neural culling’, and even though I knew what it represented based on the context, I still wasn’t sure of its precise meaning. It’s only when a few days later I came across an article mentioning culling of urban foxes, I realized this word describes destruction of some sorts.
Mutual assured destruction is a highly specific term and it describes a situation when two parties involved in a military conflict or facing a possible conflict are fully aware of the fact that if they were to resort to arms of mass destruction, it wouldn’t really avail of any advantages to any of the party because they would both be totally destroyed. This is a specific military term, and now it’s been added onto my vocabulary thanks to the novel ‘Insignia’!
Sulking – I learned this new word in relation to a person being resentful and withdrawn. A typical collocation involving this word would be ‘he was sulking in the corner’, or ‘sitting and sulking’ – so if you’re thinking of learning this word, you’d better learn it in the context of someone SITTING and sulking (imagine someone sitting all by themselves with an angry look on their face and arms crossed!)
On restricted libs – it simply means ‘on restricted liberties’ which is quite straightforward; if someone is ‘put on restricted libs’, it means they’ll be temporarily held under strict supervision and their freedom of movement will be restricted. The word ‘lib’ turns out to be yet another modern English abbreviation which I wasn’t aware of!
Old English Words Added Onto My Active Vocab
Retort – this English verb describes someone replying to a question with a counter-question. This one was part of my passive vocabulary (I would recognize it but wouldn’t be able to use it in my conversations), but now I can use it in my daily English conversations due to the fact that I’ve been purposefully using it till it becomes my second nature!
Overkill – I’d heard this one before but never fully understood what it means. After reading ‘Insignia’ however, I’ll remember this English word forever because it describes a certain activity that is way too excessive for achieving the desired result or outcome. It can be used in pretty much any circumstances – you can say to your little sister “It’s an overkill!” if you think she’s dressed to provocatively for a night out – despite this term being reserved only for military conversations back in the day.
Jam the wire into the port – the word ‘to jam’ used in a slightly different context. Earlier I would have only ever used the word ‘jammed’ as a synonym to ‘stuck’; now I will also use it as a synonym for ‘to plug in’.
New English Expressions Learned When Reading ‘Insignia’
To run the gauntlet – it means to face criticism, to endure some hardship. Meaning of this phrase was quite clear from the context alone, but it’s only when I looked it up on a dictionary that I discovered its true origins. It originates in the army tradition of punishing a private by forcing him to run between two lines of men who are hitting out at him.
Do it already! This conversational English phrase is a new one for me. Its meaning is straightforward, but as a collocation it’s a new addition to my active vocabulary.
Tell yourself that! is a phrase voicing your disbelief at something the other person has said.
No-go is a term used to describe that a specific campaign has to be aborted (launch of a rocket, for example) due to some technical failure (typically). Of course, it can be also used in a more casual setting; for example if your dad is fixing a lawnmower and it fails to start after numerous attempts, you may say “Dad, it’s a no-go, we have to get a mechanic to have a look at it!”
I knew you’d go places! – means that you knew that the person in question would get promoted within a company; the wider meaning is that you knew they would be successful and achieve a lot in terms of their professional life.
How Addictive This Book Is
To be honest with you guys, this novel doesn’t deserve the top shelf in my section of book-shelves.
It’s got all the pre-requisites to be considered a great novel in the sci-fi/dystopian literature, but I wasn’t reading it late into the night which would be a sure indicator of a novel’s ‘addictiveness’!
I can’t really put my finger on it – was it the fact that the action was too stretched out during the second half of the book?
Was it because the events were a bit too predictable?
I can’t really tell you why, but ‘Insignia’ just didn’t tick all the boxes to become the perfect novel for me, and I’m not sure if I’ll read its follow-up (which I’m pretty sure is coming out at some stage in the future; it’s pretty much a standard thing nowadays!)
Anyway, don’t take my word it – give it a shot, maybe ‘Insignia’ is going to become an all-time favorite for you!
Check Out Insignia on Amazon.com Below!
Chat soon and take care,