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Insignia (Insignia #1)

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  7,817 ratings  ·  1,063 reviews
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’
Paperback, 446 pages
Published July 2012 by Hot Key Books
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Keshia Dalton seemed most prominent. Karl seems like a small school rivalry, but the real antagonist is the dude behind the software that was secretly being…moreDalton seemed most prominent. Karl seems like a small school rivalry, but the real antagonist is the dude behind the software that was secretly being installed in Tom's head.. forgot his name, V-. I imagine that in the next books, this character will have some more 'screen time.' (less)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Julianna Helms
Quick reaction: This book is so funny it will make you laugh until you start to cry. Then you'll actually cry--because this story is so raw, so complete, so fantastically satisfying that you'll marvel at how, yes, such brilliance finally, finally got published!

I. am. in. love. with. this. book. Head-over-heels sort of love.

If you love Divergent by Veronica Roth (which should be everyone of you out there reading this), you will be completely blown away by this book. Pre-order it! Now!


Emily May
Aug 13, 2012 Emily May rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teen boys
It seems a little unfair to give this such a low rating when the only problem is that I'm obviously not the desired audience. But, because goodreads' rating system only allows for how much I personally enjoyed the book, I'm not prepared to go so far as to say "I liked it" and give it 3 stars as that would be untrue. Please just remember this: had I been a teenage boy (about 12-16), I would probably have loved Insignia, and I'm actually pleased that authors are still remembering to cater for t
Insignia is the type of book that would have blown me away if I had been any younger. While it is marketed as a Young Adult Novel, I'd probably recommend it for mature middle grade students or young high schoolers. I definitely don't see anything wrong in reading it as an older teen, like me, but it simply doesn't have the desired punch on a much older audience.

Tom lives in a futuristic world, not too far ahead from our very own, where World War III is fought solely in space without losing any
Okay so here's the deal. I went into reading this book knowing very little about it. After a small nudge from Molly O'Neill and a fun conversation with S.J. Kincaid at BEA 2012, it quickly made its way to the top of my to-be-read list.

This book is well written, with a plot that sucks you in, and characters that are easy to love. I've already told my mom (who is a middle school librarian) that she will need countless copies of Insignia for her library. The boys are going to eat this one up. But
Tom's never really had the chance to make friends, to live a life of routine or attend a proper school. He and his father are constantly on the move, town after town, feeding his father's gambling addiction. Waiting for that 'big break' that will set them up for good. The break that never comes. But then Tom's incredible gaming talent is noticed by the military, who manage to track him down and offer a once in a life time opportunity. The chance to train at the exclusive Pentagonal Spire to beco ...more
Original review posted over at Kirkus

Taken at face value, S.J. Kincaid's Insignia is a competent, albeit derivative, science fiction novel about underdog teenager Tom Raines, who is given the chance to prove himself by joining a military program to become part of an elite team of teen virtual combatants during World War III.

World War III is a bloodless war: spacecrafts are remotely controlled by virtual warriors in a fight between Corporations who have aligned themselves with either the Indo-Am
Ivie ✩Born to Magic-Forced to Muggle✩
I am cursed...I really am. I have fallen trough a vortex of warped novels and am currently stuck in Limbo of unoriginality.

I will admit to something. Lately I choose novels with very good ratings and little to no research thinking that's more than enough for me. At least it should have been. I am coming face to face with the realisation of how flawed that system of selection is. It simply doesn't work. A sky high rating doesn't guarantee good book.

Insignia wasn't bad, but it was unoriginal. Th
Básicamente, en Insignia seguimos los pasos de Tom Raines, un protagonista un tanto peculiar, y creo que esto es parte del encanto de la historia. Este chico es lo opuesto a los personajes masculinos que solemos encontrar en las novelas juveniles; Tom no es lindo, no tiene cincuenta chicas atrás, no es creído ni nada por el estilo. En este caso, es un chico que siente que no va a ser nadie en su vida; luego de que su madre lo abandonara, Tom se crió yendo de casino en casino con su padre, sin un ...more

Insignia by S.J Kincaid is set in the future, however the year is never specified. Tom Raines is fourteen and travels from casino to casino with father who is an ex-professional gambler. He occasionally attends Rosewood Reformatory School by logging in virtually, but he often forgets or doesn’t have a connection to the internet because his father can’t always afford a motel room. World War Three is currently being played out in space. Countries have aligned together: India-America, supported by
Jack Truong
ok this is the first DNF of the year. First, let's talk about how I get this book. I read around and saw many good reviews, ok cool, maybe some good sci-fi after all. I guess it doesn't hurt to try something new. I'm a big sci-fi fan anyway. I like Starships, space battles, nanomachines, young soldiers. This book has all of them, what can go wrong?

Turns out, it CAN and DOES go wrong.

Insignia struck me as a mix between Ender's Game and Harry Potter, with Tom = Harry, Vik = Ron and, surprise surpr
Jul 27, 2012 Katy marked it as likely-getting-back-to  ·  review of another edition
Whaddayaknow. Yet ANOTHER guys' POV on my list. So don't say I didn't give them a try.
“Do you want to be somebody important?”


Never judge a book by its cover. A hard lesson I kinda learned several times now. If I just look at this book’s cover I would be blown away, because it is gorgeous and full of promises. It promises me excitement, a sense of danger and a fast paced adventure; sadly it doesn’t keep any of them.

First of all let me tell you I never read Ender’s Game, so I can’t make comparisons here like many other reviewers do. Second, I may make comparisons to
Lori (Pure Imagination)
Insignia by S.J. Kincaid is outside my comfort zone. Way outside my comfort zone. There’s something about sci-fi that puts me off. At least that was what I thought before. I picked up Insignia because it was there and people were raving about it. I thought ‘Well, I’ll give it a chance’. Next thing I knew I was 150 pages into it and in love. I can’t tell you just how much I loved this book!

Insignia has that undeniable quality that makes a spectacular book. I’m never good at pinpointing what exact
Taschima Cullen
Don't be fooled by the mediocre cover, Insignia is by far one of the best books I've read this year. In fact, it may be the best debut of 2012. I LOVED IT! I loved it so much that I had to pace myself while reading it because I knew that when it was over it would really be over and then I would have to wait God knows how long for the sequel. The only downfall of this book is that it was so good that you can't help but devour it in mere hours.

It has it all really; engaging characters, a great wor
Feb 19, 2015 Taylor rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Okay, the thought that came to me about 70 times while reading the book was:
This is a cross between Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (though I haven't finished that book, I've read enough to compare it to this one)

It was pretty epic, I must admit. There is no hesitancy when saying that. The plot is fantastic, constantly leaving me on edge waiting for more, the characters were all so different and, well, funny (the Android and Man Hands are good examples), di
I picked this up with pretty low expectations, a product of dystopia fatigue. Woah boy was I proven wrong. Mark my words, this one should hit big. Hopefully Harry Potter or Hunger Games big. I blew through over 400 pages in a single afternoon, forgoing dinner in order to find out what happened next.

Insignia is everything that the dystopian genre was made for. Kincaid cribbed right from the headlines: countries run by dirty corporate money, wars fought with public funds for private wealth, and a
A boy, outer space, and video games – you’d think that this isn’t really something that I’d like, especially since I read the infamous Ender's Game earlier this year and was very “meh” about it. But Insignia, oh man, I LOVED this book. Let me tell you why.

It’s action packed.
Lots of BANG, WHOOSH, PHEW – I don’t know how else to describe the action that happens in this book. From the scenes where they’re training to the war and epic battles – everything is fast paced.

Tom is SUCH a boy.
He likes the
For a book I actually ended up liking, I can't believe how many times I bashed my head against my desk while reading Insignia. I'm sorry, but the premise here is borderline nonsensical and just self-contradictory, and even worse is the way it's just shoved down my throat via these lectures and speeches by these military 'experts' and top brass. I'm usually good too if the book at least follows some sort of internal logic, but the first half of this one just pissed me off so bad. If it wasn't for ...more
I was going to wait to review S.J. Kincaid’s Insignia because, hey, July is still months away, but I figured there’s no harm in gushing over its brilliance a little in advance. Before I received my copy, I thought it sounded interesting and I liked that it gave me somewhat of an Ender’s Game vibe. Although I was a little worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, I made it my first read of the year and the pressure was on! You guys... I loved this book!

There are so many sci-fi reads wh

God, it's been so long since I read a book that had me tearing through the pages. A million zillion thanks to Harper Teen for letting me read this in advance.

Insignia's set in the future, it's World War Three and everything's different. Tom, our protagonist, is a gangly, pimply teenager whose life is heading nowhere since school's not really been in the picture for a while and most of the time, he's gambling (illegally) because that's the only thing his father's taught him. However, it's a diffe
“There really was nothing firm, nothing certain. Even here, even at this place where he thought he’d found something permanent—everything could change in a day. Everything could be lost so quickly.”

The book revolves around a boy named Tom. He used to be a nobody, just going around casinos with his dad, conning people out of money trying to survive. And then he catches the attention of a certain General Marsh, who works at the Pentagonal Spire, training teens to be Combatants in World War 3, w
Total Science Love.

I'm not a fan of Science Fiction. I've always been a contemporary nerd or in same cases a total fantasy junkie. I'll be honest, the last time I read a book from a guy's perspective in the science fiction genre was...when I was in middle school. And even then I hadn't liked what I had read. But Insignia was such a refreshing read.It was pure science fiction. Pure action. And in right words, the best book for a guy.

Just before I started reading this book, a friend of mine had b
I have to be in the right mood to read sci-fish book. When I first picked this book up and started reading I wasn't sure what to think. The story starts out about a smart kid with a pretty much dead beat dad that has an addiction to gambling. I felt sorry for Tom from the moment I met him. The entire story and world fascinated me. It's such a unique and interesting concept. From about page twenty-five or so the action really gets going and you are introduced to S.J. Kincaid's epic world building ...more
My biggest complaint is the manner in which the information is first shared. It’s taught. While said fact does make sense given the setting being an academy, things sometimes got a bit dry. That said, I did enjoy the story (eventually.)

I liked the idea of it. Set in the future, with corporations fighting over resources, battling things out in a in a virtual war. That technology was a key role had me worried. Would terms escape me? Would I ‘get’ it? I did… mainly because it read so darned exciti
Wow. This book was crazy good and I say that when it comes out everybody should read it. Its almost a cross of the social society of Harry Potter and the futuristic fighting style of Ender's Game. If anybody doesn't know what the second book I just mentioned is they should read it.
Happy birthday, INSIGNIA! I liked this book so much I blurbed it. This is what I said:

“Hip, high-tech, and hilarious, INSIGNIA made my heart soar and left me with impossible-to-shake questions about technology, reality, and war.”
Brian Keefe
Tom Raines, the main character of Insignia, goes on a fast paced journey. He starts out living with his dad who is constantly moving, and then is suddenly thrown into a world of top secret government operations, with a twist, in the future everyone has computers in their head. Whether this is a help or a hindrance is for the reader to decide. This book offers a glimpse of what might occur in the future, and the problems people may face. I liked the balance of conflicts in the book, many characte ...more
Valeria Iacovone
Al empezar el libro fue como un "Oh, remake Ender's Game con adolescentes y una tercera guerra mundial tecnologica y blablabla", luego lo dejé porque debido a los cortes de luz era el único libro en físico que tenía sin leer y bueno, en caso de corte, lo iba a agarrar, pero hace... una semana? Lo volví a agarrar, y eventualmente me termino atrapando bien. Al principio tenía todas estos "what if" que se auto-formulan en la cabeza, y esperaba un twist tipo "WYATT ES MEDUSA", pero no. El """"""roma ...more
Kris Irvin
I had the opportunity to hear SJ Kincaid speak at the Salt Lake City Library last month and thought her book sounded interesting, so I grabbed it from the library. When I saw that it was recommended by Veronica Roth, I was intrigued.

The first 150 pages were just okay. After that, it got infinitely better until I couldn't put it down. I loved this book. I loved the story and I loved the characters - all the characters, but especially how Tom and Medusa's relationship worked out (OH THE ENDING.)

Insignia is easily one of the most unique books I've ever read. It just feels so different. I did come across some things that I have seen in other YA book, but the way S.J. Kincaid wrote it really made it something special. There was a blurb in the front of the book that I really liked, which mentioned how this book mainly consisted of friendships instead of romance. And it's true, which is a nice change. I enjoy romance in books, but it was surprisingly refreshing to have a book that didn't re ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Insignia (3 books)
  • Vortex (Insignia, #2)
  • Catalyst (Insignia, #3)
Vortex (Insignia, #2) Catalyst (Insignia, #3) Allies (Insignia #1.5) The Insignia Series Pitch Dark: Dark Days of Summer Sampler

Share This Book

“He likes her."

"Yuri, no!" Vik said.

Yuri turned redder, confirming it.

"Yuri, come on, man," Tom cried.

Yuri gave a helpless shrug. "Divisions cannot divide human hearts."

"Oh God," Vik cried, clapping hands over his ears. "He's even spouting cheesy lines now. Make him stop, Tom!"

"I can't!" Tom told him. "My ears... They're bleeding. Bleeding!"

"It's a brain hemorrhage! He's murdered us!" Vik said.

"Murderer!" Tom cried, fake collapsing onto the ground.

Yuri shook his head. "This is not very mature.”
“What's being crazy like?" Wyatt blurted.

"That depends, Enslow. What's being tactless and completely inappropriate like?”
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