Review: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Insignia by S.J. KincaidRelease Date: July 10, 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Publisher
IBSN: 9780062092991

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.


Insignia by S.J. Kincaid is outside my comfort zone. Way outside my comfort zone. There’s something about sci-fi that puts me off. At least that was what I thought before. I picked up Insignia because it was there and people were raving about it. I thought ‘Well, I’ll give it a chance’. Next thing I knew I was 150 pages into it and in love. I can’t tell you just how much I loved this book!

Insignia has that undeniable quality that makes a spectacular book. I’m never good at pinpointing what exactly that is, I guess it’s just a combination of things. In this case it was a group of characters so likable that you wanted to be best friends with them and a world that was mind blowing unique. The world that Tom lives in is very different from ours, but it’s also shockingly similar. There’s tons of crazy technology and wars in space. There’s creepy controlling super corporations. They control all the Earth’s resources, therefore they control the government. It took me just a little while to get used to the lingo and fully understand the situation the world was in. Once I did I was in awe of the creativity.

Tom, Vik, and Wyatt were some of the best written characters I’ve read in a long, long time. Tom was completely likable. He was honest and realistic. He came from a not so great background and that made him sympathetic. He was the type of character that you can’t help but love and root for. The bond between all the characters felt very….Harry Potter-ish to me. They stood up for each other. Their banter was fabulous and I laughed out loud so many times. I was actually reading one scene while on my exercise bike that made me laugh so hard I had to stop. It makes me laugh just think about it again.

There’s really too many elements that made me love Insignia. I can’t possibly name them all. The school was awesome! The programing wars with other students were hilarious. The futuristic dystopian world was like no other. You’re just going to have to trust me when I say that this is a incredible book.

If you’re like me, and think that Insignia isn’t your thing, I urge you to give it a chance. It’s definitely one of my favorites of the year. It has something for everyone. Great friendships, an amazing world, and it’s unputdownable. READ IT!


  1. This book sounds really great. I have been seeing it around a lot lately, and at first wasn’t really interested. The more I see it and read reviews on it the more I want to read it. Fantastic review!! I think that it just pushed me from maybe want to read, to will definitely read at some point.
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  2. Ahhh! I loved Wyatt and Vik. Tom, not so much. But yes, I think one of the best things about Insignia is the world the author built, so awesome.
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  3. I’m really glad to read a “I didn’t think this book was my thing, but you should totally read it” review because this book reaaally is not my thing! I think I may give this a try at some point, though. :) Definitely not what I’d usually pick up, but a lot of the things you’ve mentioned make me want to! Especially the seeming uniqueness of the world – though I love dystopia, I’m getting weary of the constantly recycled worldbuilding. Great review!

  4. Holy Cow! I need to read this book! I am so happy you gave it a try even though it isn’t usually your thing. But, I just read glowing reviews about this one and now I’m super excited to pick it up! Just like you I’m not a big SciFi fan and this one didn’t intrigue me one bit. Now I know I need to read it :)) 
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  5. I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about this book and I can’t wait to read it myself! I love sci-fi, so I’m really looking forward to this one. I’m glad you enjoyed this even though sci-fi isn’t one of your favorite genres! Fantastic review! 😀
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  6. I just met S.J. last night and bought a copy of her book. I can’t wait to read this one!! Thanks for your thoughts as always.

  7. This sounds pretty good! I like Sci if sometimes but this one I think I could do! :)
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  8. I am so glad you mentioned that this book is out of your comfort zone yet you loved it. It’s the same situation for me, I think I should get a copy today and I was worried about liking it. Now I am sure I will because you did and I just love well written characters! Can’t wait for this now!
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  9. Surprisingly I have really only heard about this from you. I’m not sure why. But your review has me DYING to read it!
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  10. I am not a Sci-Fi fan and I probably wouldn’t even look at this book on my own, but I’ll admit it does sound interesting. Since you loved it, maybe I’ll give it a shot. You haven’t steered me wrong yet! Nice review. 
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  11. Wow!!!  Now I wish I had picked up a copy the other day at the signing I was at – I would have loved her to sign a copy!  I can’t wait to read this awesome-sounding sci-fi that seems like it has alllll the elements I love!  Thanks for the great revie!
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  12. A lot of people have been saying that this wasn’t their type of book but it surprised them which is awesome! The world the author built sounds amazing! Great review!
    ~Kailia @ Reading the Best
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