July 09, 2012

Review: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Hardcover; 444 pages
Expected Publication: July 10, 2012 by Katherine Tegen Books

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 Three. 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?
Gripping and provocative, S. J. Kincaid’s futuristic thrill ride of a debut crackles with memorable characters, tremendous wit, and a vision of the future that asks startling, timely questions about the melding of humanity and technology.

I’ll be honest. I did not expect much out of Insignia. It sounded interesting enough to attempt, but I really didn’t go in with any expectations. Books about gamers and hackers typically aren’t my thing, but Insignia was different from others I’ve read.

To me, the world-building in a dystopian society has to be perfected, or it doesn’t work. It is a crucial element, and Insignia delivered on that front. This futuristic world is woven intricately, and contains all of the elements needed to make a scenario such as this believable.

These characters were fantastic. I fell in love with all of them. They’re so well written and there was never a dull moment from them. I found myself laughing numerous times. So much fun. The way they interact with one another feels so authentic, reading it makes you feel like you’re at home. Despite the fact that the story takes place in the future where the world has changed drastically, I still felt comfortable while reading it. I think the characters made this possible. I think it’s worth pointing out that this doesn’t read like a middle grade/early YA, despite the fact that the characters are just 14. They’re highly intelligent beings, but they still keep a youthful edge.

My only complaint would be the brief moments of info-dump. It isn’t excessive but it was noticeable enough to slow down the reading momentum for me. Yet, all of the information is important, and the book wouldn’t be the same without it.

I hope Insignia gets the recognition it deserves. I fear the lack of in-your-face romance will prevent a lot of people from picking it up, but I hope I’m wrong about that. This was a great start to a promising series, and I am eager to see what’s next for Tom and his friends.

4/5 Stars 


  1. I am so glad you liked it. I just attended Dark Days in St. Louis on Monday and bought Insignia and had it signed by the author. I had a great time and got some good pictures. Ms. Kincaid is very nice and I can't wait to read her book. Sadly it will have to wait a little bit because I have some reviews to read and post first.


  2. I feel the same about dystopians that the world building is really important. I was not initially interested in this one but maybe I would feel the same as you.

  3. I'm glad that you liked this one, since I picked it up at a Dark Days tour. I'm looking forward to reading it now.

  4. I am so excited for this book ! It sounds amazing and your review makes me want to read it even more !

  5. I've been curious about this one. Great review!

  6. Thanks, I feel the same. Since you gave it a 4, I might add this to my list. Thanks.
    magic5905 at embarqamil dot com

  7. This is the first I have heard of INSIGNIA. It looks amazing & I just love the cover. A great review thank you.

  8. It was really interesting to read your review, because I didn't feel like it would really be my thing either. But I love dystopians and world building is my favorite part, so maybe this one is worth checking out!

  9. I received this one as a gift, I'm glad you liked it! It's also not the type of book I will usually read, but I'll give it a try!


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