Monday, 23 July 2012

Book Review: Insignia by S. J. Kincaid

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 have so much to say about this book.  I wrote pages and pages of notes as I read it so I will try and condense all of this down so I don’t completely bore you to death.  

Insignia is probably one of the smartest and most original YA books I have read.  It was just mind bogglingly brilliant.  It is heavy on the science fiction there have been a lot of YA books labelled as Sci-fi recently but none do it as well as Insignia does.  The idea for this book is really interesting, new and complex without being confusing. 

The world building is astonishing everything was vivid and vibrant, even more amazing is the fact that this book is not just set in one world.  This book is on a basic level about gaming and through virtual gaming we travel from outer space to ancient Greece and more.  All the worlds feel amazingly real and are brilliantly written.  

Equally well written are the characters.  The story is told from Tom’s point of view but he is not the only character of worth.  Every single character, regardless of their importance, has full personalities and are all incredibly well written.  This is impressive considering the amount of characters there are in this book. 

Another thing I loved was that romance took a backseat to humour.  At times Insignia made me laugh hysterically, I literally had tears streaming down my face a couple of times.  It is the funniest book I have read in a while.
The only problem I had with this book was that I thought it was a little too long.  There were a couple of parts that dragged for me and a couple of times I was a little bored.  I just think it could have been a little shorter.  

Apart from that I thought this book was amazing.  Insignia is original and smart.  It transports you into an awe-inspiring and at times frightening world that doesn’t seem to implausible for our own future.  This in one of the most original books I have read for years and I highly recommend it. 

4 stars

Published July 2012 by Hot Key Books.  A free copy was provided for review. Image courtesy of Goodreads

Review by Kate Phillips


  1. Great review, this one sounds really good!

  2. Awesome review! Thanks, I have now a new book to my TBR list ^_^

    And I tagged you in the Would You Rather..? Tag. I think it's really fun ^_^

  3. I haven't read too many sci-fi heavy books, but I may just have to give this a try! Great review.


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