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Insignia Hardcover – July 10, 2012

158 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Insignia Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews


PRAISE FOR INSIGNIA“Insignia expertly combines humor with a disarming and highly realistic view of the future. The characters are real, funny, and memorable. You won’t be able to put this book down.” (Veronica Roth, #1 New York Times bestselling author of DIVERGENT and INSURGENT)

“Hip, high-tech, and hilarious, INSIGNIA made my heart soar and left me with impossible-to-shake questions about technology, reality, and war.”—Rae Carson, author of THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS (Rae Carson)

“An unlikely teen is selected to attend Hogwarts-at-the-Pentagon. With action, real humor and a likable, complex protagonist, this fast-moving, satisfying adventure also provides some food for thought.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Kincaid’s debut novel, an ambitious, high-concept mélange of the teen hacker and teen spy genres provides a fast-paced and exciting tale.” (Publishers Weekly)

From the Back Cover

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?

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.


Product Details

  • Age Range: 13 and up
  • Grade Level: 8 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 750L (What's this?)
  • Series: Insignia (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books; First Edition, First Printing edition (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780062092991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062092991
  • ASIN: 0062092995
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

S.J. Kincaid was born in Alabama, grew up in California, and attended high school in New Hampshire. She also interned for a politician in Washington, D.C., and received degrees from universities in Illinois and Ohio, but it was while living beside a haunted graveyard in Edinburgh, Scotland, that she realized she wanted to be a writer. Several years, several manuscripts, and several jobs later, Ms. Kincaid now lives outside of Chicago, and INSIGNIA is her debut novel. You can visit her online at or follow her on Twitter (@sjkincaidbooks).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mary Brebner VINE VOICE on August 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Positive: Teen boy protagonist. Tom. Is. Awesome. Coming from a rough home life (well, no home life, really, since he and his dad don't have a permanent residence), Tom has to survive but he wants to excel. So, when an amazing opportunity falls into his lap, he jumps at it. Tom's got a survival instinct like no one else at the academy and, even though he wants a "normal" life, he never quite lets go of that edge.

Positive: Gamer heaven. While I wouldn't call myself a serious gamer, I do like video games (Skyrim, FTW) and this world, this academy, is most definitely gamer heaven. With ridiculously realistic virtual reality, real-life battles deep in space, and fellow gamers to geek out with, gamer geekery rules at the Spire!

Positive: Politics and intrigue. Even though the teens are waging the virtual war, it is still a war which means military and political shenanigans. Companies sponsor the teens (someone's got to pay for the very expensive toys, after all), meaning plenty of money is changing hands. Tom and his fellow recruits are at the center of the battle.

Wish: A chip in my head. Recruits get a chip in their head that gives them access to All The Knowledge. Of course, it comes with some very bad side effects (like people being able to hack your brain--eep!), so it's probably a good thing this wish will not come true, at least in my lifetime.

Overall: Fabulous! I will most definitely be putting this book into the hands of my students with high praise. Oh, and even though it seems it'll be part of a series, this book can definitely be read as a stand-alone as it has a fabulous ending.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Lilian @ A Novel Toybox on January 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A disappointing, middle-grade version of Ready Player One (which was one of my favorite books of the year,) is the best summary of my reactions to S. J. Kincaid's Insignia. The problems I found in Insignia reminded me of the ones I found in Wesley King's The Vindico; both books had an compelling plot, creative ideas, but he execution failed to bring those ideas to life and grazed over heavy-handed issues in exchange for superficial cliches.

My Suspension of Disbelief is Straining, These People Need Anger Management!:
First of all, all these 14-15 year olds are supposed to be the cream of the crop with exceptional intelligence and abilities (Figure Skating Champion, Scholarship winners, etc.) With the aid of a neural processor in their brains they have become even smarter than usual. Actually, their intelligence is optional since they just "download" knowledge instead of learning. Whatever they don't know their computer brains will look it up for them. They are also given perfect complexions and grow six inches in a week. Yet, despite their intelligence, their priorities only lie in teasing each other with stuff like "girly hands" and "man-hands." Not sure what the intelligence changed in them. The knowledge certainly hasn't made them any more empathetic, as they spend most of their time plotting to ruin each other's lives (and are encouraged to do so!.)

What tested my suspension of disbelief was how easy it was for characters to make decisions. Tom accidentally (being digitally manipulated as part of a class demo) bumps into the class bully, and all of a sudden the guy hates his guts.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Stout TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Yes, this is a young adult book. I am an old adult. But guess what? I thoroughly enjoyed "Insignia."

I think Tom Raines, the protagonist of the story, is well developed by the author. He feels like a teenage boy to me throughout the story. And the other characters are substantive and hold up well on their own.

It is the future and World War III is being fought in outer space. Large international/multinational corporation sponsor the warriors.

Neural processors, a training center in what used to be the Pentagon, Indo-American allies and Russo-China allies, patents for food AND water, neutron bombs, the Coalition of Multinationals, Ares, Medusa and much more held my interest throughout the longish book.

Some of this description sounds a bit dry but the book actually moves quickly and is great fun. Tom wants what most of us want - friends, family, a feeling of self-importance. And "Insignia" tells us how he goes about reaching his goals.

If you liked Ready Player One by Ernest Cline or Reamde by Neal Stephenson, I think you will also really enjoy "Insignia."
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By AmazonJavaJunki TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've been on a bit of a reading binge lately including quite a few book that are outside of my normal non-fiction, dutiful reading type books. This was listed under technology and fiction so frankly, I wasn't sure what to expect.

First, I should mention that I received an advanced readers copy so the pages/etc may change for the final version but it is a rather substantial book and I'd actually guess it should be categorized under the "young adult" section....a place I rarely search for book but may be prone to do so in the future because this book was so friggin much fun!

It may also be good to mention that as a bit older adult, I don't play video games. None...unless you count the original Pong. So, with that said, the major emphasis on gaming throughout this book could have been a painful boring read...It was NOT. In fact, this book was an absolute delight from start to finish. Yes, it's a bit young. Yes, it's a fast but very fun and entertaining read. The story was original. The technology/other just advanced enough as to feel futuristic but also highly believable/do-able.

The characters aren't deep but are engaging. The pace is quick. There are a few areas that become a tad expected but not so much as to diminish the overall fun of the book. The story was fresh, fun and managed to stay totally entertaining without resorting to vulgarities. Quite appropriate for a young teen audience or adult. Absolutely entertaining!
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