Insignia SJ Kincaid Book Review

I’ve decided I quite like books about gamers despite being abysmal at gaming, myself. Insignia by SJ Kincaid is totally legit and is BONUS: about an underdog kid recruited by the army for his mad gaming skills. Insignia contains a fascinating, if depressing future and characters that I alternately wanted to hug and choke.

Insignia SJ Kincaid Book Cover


Tom Raines is an ugly kid who lives with his paranoid gambler dad, Neil. The two move from casino to casino. Tom’s very far behind with school. While he may lack academic aptitude, he excels at gaming. So much so that the government has their eye on him for recruitment. You see, the world is basically ruled by evil corporations hellbent on fighting over land rights, only World War III isn’t being fought on Earth, but in space by teens piloting machines with their brains from Earth. In America, the teenagers do this from the Pentagonal Spire.

Yeah, so despite Tom’s misgivings, he accepts a position and thrives at the Spire in hopes of making an elite company – Camelot Company. Yet, of course there’s the potential of losing it all and the life Tom’s now living not being all that is is cracked up to be. Frankly, I loved reading about the Spire and the military technology and tactics. I liked the battles and the machinations of the characters to try and get into Camelot Company and do well at various challenges — including writing computer viruses.

For the most part, I liked Tom as the main character of Insignia, but there were a lot of instances where as an adult he really aggravated me. Like, he’s stubborn and a pain about stupid things. Like there is this lieutenant teaching the students valuable things, who I personally think Tom could relate to, but whom Tom consistently resists. And dude, by actually sitting the fuck down and listening, I think Tom would’ve been able to prevent some unpleasantness. But, oh no, he feels the need to get in a pissing contest with this person and it is super aggravating from my point of view.

Yet, despite my one complain about Insignia by SJ Kincaid, the minor characters make up for my irritation with Tom. Like, Wyatt who is this girl with no social skills but is a genius and totally loyal, or Vik the wisecracking Indian, plus Yuri, the kind Russian everyone thinks is a spy. If I’m being completely honest, I liked the auxiliary characters and empathized with the more than I did with Tom.

Friends, Insignia is a pretty long book and kind of a time investment. The pace, however, is pretty brisk. Like, it’s not a slow, drag to read for of book but one where the plot and the world is so interesting you just have to keep turning the pages.

For the most part, I was a fan of Kincaid’s debut novel. Yet, various bits of Tom Raines’ charter and Insignia pushed my buttons. However, I have zero doubt in my mind about being back for the sequel. I am absolutely excited about it and cannot wait to see what tactics and battles are next for the combatants of the Intrasolar Forcers.

Disclosure: Received for review.

Other reviews of Insignia by SJ Kincaid:

Great Imaginations – “I LOVED this book. Loved it”

Sash & Em – “Lots of BANG, WHOOSH, PHEW

Hobbitsies – “Got action-packed pretty quickly and wiped my fears away

Read an excerpt of Insignia by clicking here

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I’m so glad you liked this book! I’ll be getting it on the 10th (and meeting the author!!) and I can’t wait to read it! I’m really into gaming, so hopefully there’s no way I’ll not like it! Hehe.

    Thanks for the great review! I hope Tom doesn’t bug me too much.

    • Oh that’s so awesome that you get to meet the author, Ashley. I am always a fan of that sort of experience.

      Also gaming is cool, I wish I was better at it.

      I think that it’s just my own personal quirks that caused me to dislike him at times.

  2. I haven’t read a lot of reviews for this one yet, but I’ve seen the cover around quite a bit! I’m not sure if I’ll be reading it yet or not, but I’m thinking about it! Glad you mostly liked it, and that it didn’t feel quite as long as its actual length. 🙂

  3. Great review, hun. I’m awaiting on a copy of this from the pub and I’m now keen to see how I feel about Tom, he sounds like someone who might annoy me too. Also, I’m glad that while this is long, it’s fairly quick paced

    • Oh, I hope you enjoy Insignia. I bet you won’t mind him too much, seriously, I think maybe that’s one of my own weird quirks.

      Yeah, you’ll read this in like a blink.

  4. This reminds me of For the Win by Cory Doctorow. I find the idea of gamer books really interesting because I think they’re a great commentary on our current world and what it could easily become, but they’re not the kind of book I get a whole lot of enjoyment out of.

  5. Gaming books intrigue me – I think it’s because their ability to get “lost” with the games is pretty intense. (And I have to admit that I’ve always had a thing for nerdy guys – of which most Gamers are… Yep – there’s my deep dark secret!)

    I think the thing that really makes me want to read this? The secondary Characters sound great!!

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  6. I simply cannot wait to read this one – it’s on my pile for next week and it looks FABULOUS. Everyone has had such great things to say about it!

  7. You and Anna are book review twins today! I’m not a gamer myself but this book sounds interesting and something different than what I normally read. I’m also in for some action-packed fun because I haven’t read a lot of that lately.

  8. DAMN IT, April! You too? When a trifecta of reviewers (you, Anna, and Sash) is telling me to read a book, you know I have to. It would now be unfathomable if I passed this book up. I swear it’s taunting me from my bookshelf …

  9. I’m not into gaming either, but Ready Player One had me hooked so maybe Insignia will do the same. I’ve read a chapter so far and it is pretty quick to get into. Your review makes me more excited to read it!

    • Definitely, Ready Player One hooked me too, I was kind of hoping for the same vibe, but Thomas is a whole different sort of main character.

      I hope you love Insignia!

  10. I loved this book. It’s one of my favorites so far of 2012 by far. It’s definitely going on my “end of year best” list. Glad to see you loved it too. Thanks for linking me.

    It is a long book, but it flew by for me. Strange how that works.

  11. A book about gaming!! This has me so excited. And it sounds like it’s a good read, with such an interesting back story and a diverse cast of characters. Can’t wait to check this out!

  12. Dude, you know I’m with you. Tom definitely should have just LISTENED to said other person. But at the same time, it’s such a 14 year old boy thing to do. All middle school boys were brats. Love your review – I had a feeling you’d like it cause of the gamer aspect!

  13. Ugh. I feel as if Tom is going to push my buttons like he did yours, but I’m super stoked for this one now! hooray for it being released tomorrow! 😀

  14. Steve saw this review and said “Why didn’t you get this book for me!” Haha. (I did, he just didn’t know)

  15. I mean really.
    This book was meant for me.

    And the supporting characters sound incredible!

  16. My review for this goes up today! It was way out of my comfort zone but I LOVED it. So glad that I gave it a chance. I understand what you mean about Tom, though. I hope he matures some in book 2.


  1. […] April’s Review of Insignia: “Insignia by SJ Kincaid is totally legit!” […]

  2. […] sequel to a book you read last year right around the same time. Last year, over the summer, I read Insignia by SJ Kincaid and found myself really enjoying it, except for not being a huge fan of the main […]