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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Twins on Thursday: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: Insignia
Author: S. J. Kincaid
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: July 10 2012
Publication House: Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN: 9780062092991
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked

Summary: 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 tech skills 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?

           (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; summary lifted from actual book)


Over time, we've been growing quite wary of books that sounded too good to be true, and Insignia fit the bill quite nicely. A fascinating cover, a promising summary, and science fiction-it seemed as if it were a book written with us in mind! But the best part? The book kicked wicked cool butt.

Tom Raines never thought he had a shot at being taken under the Indo-American military, being trained alongside the best and the brightest cadets. Welcome to World War III where lives are spared and properties are unharmed. Sounds too good to be true? It is. Being a member of the Intrasolar Forces means that Tom has to have a chip implanted in his brain. Memories can be extracted, and events can be reviewed. However, he is not without his band of friends who often reminds us that Tom works towards his dreams of being an intergalactic killing machine, he is a teen who is going through the awkward phases of growing up.

The book started slow, but don't worry. Its pace quickens as the story progresses as well.  The story is mainly told from Tom's perspective, which is a refreshing take after all those female protagonists (read: too lusty "I stared at his lips/abs/biceps/triceps/super bulgy muscles." Ick. Or too petty, as in "Oh my god, did he just talk to her? Oh no, that means that kiss meant nothing! I am way too frustrated and angry to function as a supernatural/levelheaded/rational person.) While Tom sometimes has his moments, we must not discount the fact that Tom is only fourteen. 

The concept that companies start taking over the world is not a far-fetched idea and we, at The Twins Read, love conspiracy theories. Kincaid does a good job of making the ideas logical and as realistic as possible. While the connection between gaming and what-if scenarios are not uncommon, Kincaid sure makes the storyline refreshing and appealing. We honestly can't wait for the second book, Vortex, to come out!

We enjoyed Insignia so much we created a playlist inspired by it. If you'd already read the book, do tell us what you thought about it as well.


  1. Ooh, awesome review! I'm glad to see that Insignia has a well-developed character (who isn't a hormonal teenage girl for once!) and a unique but still realistic-enough plot.

    Can't wait to read this!!
    -Tiffany@Read, Breathe, Read

    1. Thank you! We loved Insignia a lot and Tom's voice was a nice change from all the female protagonists out there. Hope you enjoy this as much as we did! :>