Review: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Author: S.J. Kincaid [website]

Published: July 2012 by Katherine Tegen Books

Format: ARC paperback copy

Source: Won from a Goodreads FirstReads giveaway hosted by HarperTeen. Thank you!




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 III. 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?


Cover Art: Love the cover art! Suits the style of the book; sci-fi and computers!


I have to admit, this took me a lot longer to read than anticipated. I think I had to be in a certain mindset to get into the sci-fi technology based book. However, the beginning and the end were both very engaging and fast-paced.

The set-up of the story and introduction of the main character (male!) was very well done. I love the futuristic setting of the story and although there was not a lot of world building in the beginning, the details and history of the world can be gathered throughout the novel. By the end of the book, you will be sad to leave the world Kincaid created. Although I generally do not have much technology knowledge base, I was able, for the most part, follow along the story and the various descriptions of equipment or machines. That said, there were a few times where I was a little lost. However, that did not deter from enjoying the read. The technology aspect is likely the best part of this book. So much imagination and details and creativity went into this novel. Simply amazing!

The main character, Tom, is a teenage boy who loves gaming and is very good at it. Typical, but he does reveal more than that throughout the book. There isn’t much to  him at first, but as you get to know him, he is a great main character – funny, awkward, and very real. Since this is only the first of the series, I’m sure his character will develop well and become even more interesting and fun to read.

In the end, this book is definitely worth picking up if you are a science-fiction fan, history fan, techie, or gamer. Well even if you aren’t in any one of those categories, this debut novel by Kincaid is written very well and will engage readers everywhere.

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