Allison Reviews Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

I love video games. I am amazing at them. A true master of the craft. I know all the ins and outs, the tricks and the cheats, the….Okay, so I maybe lying at this point. I do love video games but I am absolutely horrible at them. Unless it’s a game that I played in my childhood (Nintendo and Super Nintendo for the win!), I have the worst time trying to figure things out. For example, when I play Mortal Kombat on the PS3 with my friends, I am known as the expert button masher. If I win it’s because I figured out what buttons to keep pushing over and over again not because I actually knew what I was doing. All that being said though, I still enjoy books that are about gamers, and I find myself fascinated by those who can actually handle a video game. Lucky for me Insignia by S.J. Kincaid has both of those things in spades!

Insignia SJ Kincaid Book Cover


Tom Raines is a self conscious ugly kid who lives with his super paranoid gambler father Neil. The two of them never stay in one location for very long due to lack of money and Neil’s gambling addiction. Because of this, Tom is very behind in school but, even though he isn’t very academically smart, he is an excellent gamer. In fact, he is such an excellent gamer that the government eyes him for recruitment for their war.  World War III isn’t fought on earth but instead in space with teenagers piloting machines with their brains from Earth. This is because the war isn’t about human rights or the perceived protection of a country but instead is occurring because evil corporations are fighting over land rights.  Despite Tom’s misgivings about the war and the government, he accepts the position that he recruited for and moves into the Pentagonal Spire, where he is trained and aspires to make a name for himself. Something he never thought was possible when he was living with his father.

Of course, the life that Tom is now living isn’t exactly what it seems. In fact, Insignia is packed full of twists and turns which keep the story interesting and kept me reading. There is a lot of detail regarding the military technology and tactics and the challenges which were placed in front of the teenagers at Spire in order to qualify them for the next level. It was fun to read about these things and imagine that this could actually take place in the future. Admittedly, that is a little scary to think about but at the same time, it is interesting. I doubt I would be recruited to be a part of the Spire due to my lack of coordination, and lack of gamer skills. They wouldn’t trust me!

The characters in Insignia also kept the book interesting. Of course there is Tom who at times made me want to smack up the side of the head because of his stubbornness and inability to listen to instructions. I mean, I understood his suspicions of the government especially once more things were revealed but, at the same time there were times when I thought he was being a little too over dramatic. Luckily, he has friends that seem to balance him out a little bit. There’s Wyatt who is a super genius and incredibly loyal to Tom despite her lack of social skills, and Vik who is full of wisecracks and constantly keeps Tom on his toes, and also Yuri who everyone is a little uncertain about due to his Russian background but who proves that he has a very kind heart. Between the three of them, there is a balance and an unspoken blend of understanding that only happens between true friends. I really enjoyed reading about their adventures and was able to understand and sympathize with all of them.

Overall, Insignia is a long book but it is a relatively quick read. Everything is so interesting that you cannot help but get caught up in the world within the book and want to know more. With all its twists and turns, the plot also has the tendency to keep you on your toes as well. I’m excited for the sequel, and I’m very much looking forward to what tactics and battles are described, and to see if there is any character growth or change, especially when it comes to Tom’s character. I really do think that he has room to grow, and I’m interested to see if and how that happens.

Disclosure: Received advance copy at BEA

Other Reviews of Insignia by S.J. Kincaid: 

April’s Review of Insignia:Insignia by SJ Kincaid is totally legit!”

Anna Reads:Just know that this book is exciting, action-filled and, dang, SO FUNNY!

Iswimforoceans: “Insignia rocks the sci-fi genre, turning it on its head with an entirely new approach, fantastic wit and a host of characters that are engaging, blunt and utterly honest.

Bloody Bookaholic: “Insignia is by far one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Lil’s Reflections:Full of science, technology, a slight romance, and even a tiny bit of mystery, nobody can go wrong with this one.

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Allison is 27 years old. She is always looking for new books, good music, quality/epic adventures, and a normal sleep schedule. She currently works with the elderly.


  1. I loved Insignia so much and I really didn’t think it was for me. I absolutely can’t wait for book 2!

  2. Haven’t read too many books about gamers but maybe I’ll try this one out! Thanks for the review, Allison! 😀

  3. I really want to read thsi book. I keep hearing wonderful things and it seems very unique.

    Great review. 😀

  4. I have seen nothing but praise for Insignia! I’m glad that even though it’s a long book it goes by fast.

  5. This is one of those books that doesn’t really sound like it’s for me, but I’m crazy interested in reading! It’s just SO DIFFERENT from everything I normally read that I feel like I can’t help but not enjoy it!

  6. GAMING!

    Honestly I adored Wyatt. I wasn’t sure how to write about her in my review, so I didn’t…but I LOVE HER. And her russian bf.

  7. I’ve been so intrigued by this book since the moment I heard it had something to do with gaming. I really can’t wait to check it out for myself!

  8. Haha, I love your feelings about Tom, he wasn’t the easiest character to like but I did like his bunch of friends! Great review, Allison!

  9. Okay, the more I read about this one, the more I WANT to read it. At first, I was a little scared by how technical and governmental it sounded – I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up. But everyone is making it sound really great and I think I’d do just fine. Some trusted blogging/reading friends have really loved it so it has moved way up front for me. You make me laugh when you say you wanted to smack Tom upside the head!

    Also, somewhat shallowly, I am a sucker for red covers. So naturally, my eyes are completely DRAWN to this one. Why? I don’t know. I just cannot help but want to pick up a red book. I am such a weirdo sometimes.

    (I’m the same way with Mortal Kombat. Don’t tell anyone.)


  1. […] guess Allison and I are both fangirls for gamers. Allison reviews Insignia by SJ Kincaid and gives it a glowing […]