You Read What? Book Reviews: Insignia

Author: S.J. Kincaid

Publisher: HarperCollins

  • Imprint: Katherine Tegen Books

Date Published: July 10th 2012

Format: Hard Cover

Source: Toronto Public Library


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?

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

Number of Days It Took to Read: 2


This cover stands out. Again, this image doesn’t do the actual cover justice since there is a shine to it that has you gravitating towards it. I love the futuristic feel to it and the reds add a menacing foreboding to it as well.

The Writing Score: 4 out of 5

Recommendation: A Must Read

Memorable or Forgettable: Memorable

Rating: 4 out of 5


By now, I’ve read so many dystopian novels that I’ve now deluded myself into thinking that I’m expert.

This novel is very different from your average dystopic tale. It’s funny. I mean really funny despite the really realistic and very depressing world that Kincaid has constructed. This might be due to my particular brand of humor but I found myself laughing so hard and frequently. It’s a place where wars aren’t fought on earth but where people fight on behalf of corporations and not nations. It’s a world war three but not the one we’d imagine. Seriously, the way our world is heading in terms of corporations becoming more powerful and being regulated a lot less…I wouldn’t be surprised if this novel becomes reality. I guess you can say that it has a more George Orwell feel to it than other dystopias.  Even in the way where no real resistance is found in the novel or at least not in the way we’re used to (explicitly and in your face resistance) in similar novels.

This book has a strong character who has a balance of flaws and strengths that appeal to different people. He’s a 14 year old boy but I still felt like he was someone I could relate to and even befriend. There were high tension moments that had me holding my breath as well so…yay! Also, the chemistry between characters was well written.

The flow of the book felt slightly out of whack in terms of pacing and that could be due to the various obstacles thrown in Thomas’ way. I felt the plot to be a bit crowded but not so much that it would’ve suffered from Spider-Man 3 syndrome (yeah, I totally made that up and some of you know what I’m talking about). Overall, it was a good read and fans of dystopias should definitely pick this up.

I’m very excited for the second book 🙂

A. A. Omer

The opinions expressed here are mine and readers are welcome to disagree. In fact, I encourage it! I never believed in putting particular books or authors on some sort of universal pedestal but you’re free to put it on your individualized pedestal because I most certainly will.

One thought on “You Read What? Book Reviews: Insignia

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