Age Range
Release Date
July 10, 2012
Buy This Book
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?

Editor review

1 review
What If the Future of the World Depended on How Well You Could Play a Game?
Overall rating
Writing Style
Imagine a world where war is not only fought in space, but also virtually. A world where video games like World of War or Medal of Honor are closer to reality. In this world natural resources are saved, lives are not lost. But with this new type of warfare comes a new cost. Is it right to extort teenagers to help corporations gain a stronger hold on world resources?  

This is the world of Insignia. It is hard to believe this is S.J. Kincaid's first novel. The world of Insignia could be complicated; countries still exist but corporations hold the power, new alliances have been formed between countries and companies, technology- neuro processing chips and computer programming language are common. However, Kincaid makes the reader's transition into this world seamless. Never did this future society feel artificial or forced. The world of Insignia feels close enough to touch.

Tom Raines is average, maybe a little below average, teenager. The only thing he has going for him is that he can play virtual reality games like no other. The reader  forms an instant attachment to Tom. A down on his luck kid like Tom needs to catch a break- question is what will it cost him?

Each character in Insignia is easy to relate to and to understand. Each one carries their own flaws and imperfections . You can understand their motivations even if you don't necessarily agree with them.

This is a thrill-ride like no other. For fans of dystopian and science fiction will be enveloped by the fast-paced unpredictable plot lines, action sequences, and smart dialogue.

I couldn't put this book down and read well into the night. It reminded me of an update version of War Games- love it! I am highly recommending this book to friends and fellow readers ya to adult.
Good Points
Easy to read style of writing.
Action keeps the story moving.
Report this review Comments (2) | Was this review helpful? 0 1

User reviews

Already have an account? or Create an account
In a World Where Companies Wage War in Space, What is Life like for the Teens being Trained to Fight
The world is in the midst of World War III, a war fought not on Earth, but in space and for private rather than public interests. Companies sponsor Combatants, teenagers that are the equivalent of fighter pilots or drone operators, who control the spaceships from Earth.

In this world, Tom Raines is nothing. A short, pimple-faced teen who cons people at games in all the little, run down casinos that his gambling-addicted dad makes his home.

So, when the government sees Tom’s gaming prowess and asks him to go to the Pentagonal Spire, where he will be trained to become a combatant, he agrees with the hope of becoming important, something that he never has been.

Tom is implanted with a neural processor, from here on referred to as Brain Computer, (which he knew nothing about till after he arrived) and quickly joins the other trainees.

We are quickly introduced to a handful of quirky characters. From Wyatt, the brilliant but quiet girl who lacks any sort of social ability, to Yuri, the possible Russian spy who’s as nice as can be but with a Brain Computer that is intentionally bugged so he can’t remember any military secrets.

The characters aren’t the most original or deep, to the exception of Tom and possibly Blackburn, one of the teachers. What they lack in depth, they make up for in laughs and the simple enjoyment they offer.

Insignia’s plot revolves around Tom’s struggles and triumphs with his teachers, classmates, and those that want to use him because of his position as a trainee. I couldn’t identify any single struggle or end goal that Tom was working towards. Instead, several struggles were woven in, overlapping each other. Without a central goal, no king to kill or dog to find, it became a series of antagonists that each had their moments, but none took the role of super-terrible-evil-bad-guy-who-wants-to-ruin-your-life that Tom could defeat. Due to how the antagonists are introduced throughout the book, I can’t say anything more without spoiling it, but rest assured that the lack of a goal isn’t something that detracted from the book so much as it is something that would have improved the book for me personally...

For my full thoughts, please visit:
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 0 0