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Review: Insignia by SJ Kincaid

Insignia by SJ Kincaid
Published by Hot Key Books

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 loved Insignia! It was an exciting and rip-roaring ride from the first page until the very last with awesome characters and a storyline that was completely engaging. I cannot wait until the next instalment.

The thing I liked most about insignia is the characterisation. I loved Tom and that meant I was completely behind him from the start and wanted to find out more about how he was, what he was involved it and, if I'm honest, by the end of the book I wanted to be his very own cheerleader at the sidelines when he was fighting. I also loved the interactions he had with the friends around him. I can see why the press release is making comparisons to Hogwarts because you get totally that sort of feel when you seen the main characters interact (albeit in a space-age military institution rather than a castle). I particularly loved the banter that went on between the teens and often found myself chuckling away throughout the story.

I was worried when I was first pitched this book that my historical girly mind wouldn't be able to wrap itself around the technology in this book. A story with kids fighting in virtual reality realms and in space!!! Normally that'd be enough to send me screaming. I am pleased to say in this case because the kids are so normal and the way in which the technical stuff isn't complicated it meant I was able to get on board with the ideas very quickly and not be left bored. This is going to be a series that appeals with both girls and boys equally in that regard.

I shan't tell you too much more as I don't want to spoil the book for anyone but needless to say I was hooked and found myself unable to put the book down as I needed to know what happened next.


I wasn't completely sure about this one before but you've sold it to me now, fab review!