Kincaid, S. J.. Insignia.
10 July 2012, Katherine Tegen Books
In a future where wars are fought off-planet by gamers funded by corporations, Tom has lived near casinos with his gambling and alcohol addicted father for years, rarely checking into his virtual school, but spending lots of time playing VR games. He comes to the attention of the military and is given the opportunity to go into military training. Eager to escape life with his father, he agrees, only to find out that a condition of his acceptance is having a neural processor implanted in his brain. He's a little leery of the device, as well as of how he has been manipulated, but agrees and becomes part computer. With the help of fellow students Vik and Wyatt, he is able to get used to his new skills and put up with the inevitable bullies. Things get a bit dicey when his quasi step-father appears on the scene and infects his system with a virus that makes him like the man and his corporation, but Wyatt eventually puts that right. Even trickier is Tom's virtual relationship with Medusa, the top fighter from the other side to whom Tom is inexplicably drawn. There are (virtual) battle scenes aplenty, and a second book on the way.
Strengths: Lots of action, an underdog protagonist with the opportunity to save the world, and video games. It's what the boys want!
Weaknesses: Somewhat hard to follow in spots, and the neural processors are kind of creepy!