Review: Tom Raines, fourteen years old, spending life in a virtual reality parlour, trying to win a living. His life isn’t really going well...until one day, he’s picked out to join the Combatants-teen soldiers fighting World War III. But it’s not like they’re going out getting killed-they’re safe on Earth. As WWIII is fought by robots in space. He soon fits in with friends, makes enemies, and gets by in the way that teenagers do in a stepped up boarding school. But then Tom starts finding out things about the other side. And then questions the rules.I was expecting something good. I got even better. We skip easily through Tom’s normal VR gambling life, and soon end up at the US Military base. Action happens frequently, friendship bonding happening between that.The school-style setting is really nice, and you get the stock characters that go with it-the couple that may or may not get together, the bully, the insane teacher. But this being Insignia, we get a technological twist on all of these. For example, one of the assignments is to use viruses on your fellow classmates.Tom, Vik, Wyatt and Yuri make a great friendship group. Vik especially knows what to say, what to do, and the one that everyone loves. I’d love to be part of this world just so I oculd have friends like these.I don’t normally enjoy romance, but Wyatt and Yuri make such a perfect pair. Yuri, with all the suspicion surrounding him due to his Russian background, and his misunderstanding at most things, at least in the first part, makes you feel really sorry for him, and his fail attempts at chatting Wyatt up (partially due to her romantic obliviousness) adds to this. I love romantically awkward geniuses. The whole idea of Tom falling for Chinese soldier Medusa was slightly predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless. It’s really interesting seeing romances form when you can’t tell who you’re talking to and so on. The technology in this is mindblowing. Anything can happen. We start learning that all military personnel have computers implanted, meaning they can process large amounts of information quickly, and pick up on details such as names and ranks of everyone nearby. This can also be used in a darker way, with Tom’s computer being used against him later on. Also-an entire war fought in space-how amazing is that? There were times when I wondered how S.J. Kincaid got to the conclustion that America and India would form an alliance though...There’s so many twists and turns that further the plot and character development. The sense of competition and high stakes is prevalent, and keeps your heart racing. Action happens on many levels, from interfriendship fights to world war scale.Overall: Strength 5 tea to a great mix of action, technology, and friendship.